Superstar Spotlight: All American Edition
Today is July 4th, and it seems appropriate that the Spotlight shines on some of wrestling's best Americans. Patriotism has always been a part of wrestling, and here are some of the more memorable characters we have seen:
The All-American (American) Jack Swagger
It says it right in his name; he is proud of not only his amateur wrestling background, but his country as well. Swagger has been in a bit of a rut lately, which is sad because he is a great talent. The guy can wrestle, he has gotten much better on the mic, and he is a former World Champion. (In fact, he got a better title reign than his current stable mate, Dolph Ziggler.) He has also been the United States Champion, and who better to hold the title than an All-American (American)? Swagger has show his pride in his ring attire and entrance video, and hell, who can forget the Swagger Soaring Eagle?
No, not the film starring Mel Gibson, were talking about Del Wilkes, who played The Patriot in a few different promotions including All Japan Pro Wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation. Wilkes also had a few stops in the Global Wrestling Federation and WCW, where he teamed with Marcus Bagwell (before he was "Buff") as Stars 'n' Stripes. The Patriot came in to the WWF to feud with Bret Hart and even beat him on an episode of RAW, but injuries forced him to retire after he was let go by the company. (A bit of trivia if you didn't know, but The Patriot's entrance theme was called 'Medal.' You may recognize it as Kurt Angle's theme song. Mind blown?)
He makes the list by default, but if there were numbered rankings he'd be at the bottom. Don't get me wrong, he represents the military and America, but he also turned his back on the country for a while. Slaughter got so much heat that it was rumored that Vince McMahon changed the location of Wrestlemania VII to protect him. Slaughter sided with Iraq and had a big feud with Hulk Hogan, and while he was immortalized as a GI Joe, mutiny is a big no-no.
Hacksaw Jim Duggan
The man who chants 'USA!' still proudly waves the flag to this day. We will forget the time he became a Canadian sympathizer, and remember Duggan for carrying a 2 x 4 and saluting the fans. It may sound a bit hypocritical to ignore Duggan's backstabbing while I vilify Slaughter for his actions, but c'mon, it was Iraq. We were at war with them, and 'Canadian Hacksaw' got no reaction in WCW. HOOOOOOOOOO!
Marcus Bagwell and Scotty Riggs dressed in short shorts and leather vests. They looked like Chippendale's dancers and had quite possibly THE WORST theme song ever. Riggs fared much better when he was part of Raven's Flock, and Marcus found more success as Buff Bagwell. (Ignore everything involving his mother, Judy.) The American Males were in love with their own physiques, and really American in name only, so we will move on.
Atlas earned his nickname of 'Mr. USA' through the world of bodybuilding, but he gained his recognition through his wrestling career. He is a former tag team champion, but most of you will remember his recent run as a co host of The Abraham Washington Show. Atlas is a WWE Hall of Famer, and he also accompanied Mark Henry to the ring during his reign as ECW Champion.
"The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes
I wish I had seen more of Dusty's career outside of WWE. My first memory of him was the intergender tag match at Wrestlemania VI, but I later found out how awesome he was in other companies. Dusty feuded with the likes of Randy Savage, Harley Race and the Four Horsemen. He made get some crap for the 'Dusty Finish' to matches, but he is still really popular and I wish I had seen more of his career.
Hogan may have worn red and yellow, but he (except for the Hollywood era) always represented the red, white and blue. Hogan told people how to train and pray, and his WWE theme song was called 'Real American.' He is a controversial figure, but no one can deny how popular he was. He set a precedent that John Cena would later follow, but Hogan fought for America and had great feuds with Sgt. Slaughter and Yokozuna.
Lex Luger transformed from 'The Narcissist' to 'Made In The USA' when he bodyslammed Yokozuna on the deck of the USS Intrepid. Lex rode around the country in a patriotic-themed bus called the 'Lex Express' and he campaigned for a title shot against then-champion, Yokozuna. He had a more successful career in WCW, but campaigning for a title shot? It doesn't get more American than that.
You can't do a list about Americans and not feature Kurt Angle. The guy loves America and he's an Olympian. He won a gold freakin' medal with a broken freakin' neck! Angle wears American themed tights and proudly talks about his medals, and this has been a recurring theme in both WWE and TNA. Kurt is one of the most decorated stars in both amateur and professional wrestling, and he is a triple-crown champion in both pro companies he was worked for. Kurt had a feud with Ken Anderson about disrespect towards American soldiers, and his career has basically been one big highlight reel. He has had fantastic matches and long term feuds with Brock Lesnar, AJ Styles and Chris Benoit, and he still has alot left. Kurt is a wrestling machine and he never dissapoints.