The world was a different place in 1991, the Gulf War had just kicked off in the Middle East, and Sgt Slaughter had turned his back on his beloved USA to side with the enemy.
Months before the first shots were fired in that conflict in early 1991, Sgt Slaughter turned his back on the United States and declared himself an Iraqi sympathiser. Now tearing apart his homeland week after week, he became one of the most hated wrestlers in the country. When real-life mirrored art and the US declared war in the region, the response coming Slaughter’s way was more vitriolic than ever.
Operation Desert Storm was put into action just two days before the 1991 Royal Rumble and Slaughter’s WWF Championship title win over Ultimate Warrior. This put Slaughter on a collision course with the American-made Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VII.
In conversation with Inside The Ropes’ Kenny McIntosh in issue 6 of Inside The Ropes Magazine, Slaughter discussed his title win and how Warrior was knocked out cold by an interfering Macho Man Randy Savage:
“Well, what made it a little easier is—I didn’t know until two hours before the show—so I wasn’t thinking too much about it, I was just going on with my character.
A few hours before match time the referee said, ‘Vince wants you in his office.’ I headed over and there was Randy Savage and Sherri. Warrior was nowhere to be found. Vince told us what he wanted and left Randy and I to get it done. When Vince trusted in his talent he didn’t have to worry so much. He worried about the other things he had to worry about instead.”
Savage had been embroiled in a feud with Warrior and used his sceptre to clean Warrior’s clock and allow Slaughter to steal the WWF Championship. Sgt Slaughter however revealed that a problem arose as Savage had KO’d Ultimate Warrior with a great chunk of the match remaining.
“Randy and I came up with the scenario where he hit Warrior with the sceptre. When it happened in the match I heard this ungodly sound of glass shattering—Randy had hit the Warrior right between the eyes with that sceptre. It was obliterated. It didn’t go in the ring, but it was all over the floor. After that Warrior was supposed to be lying in the ring, but when I went over he was still sprawled over the second rope.”
“I tried to pull him back in but he was dead-weight, he was completely knocked out. I finally got him off the rope and threw him into the ring, and I saw glass sticking out of his head like a spear. It was an incredible sight.”
“The match was supposed to go another ten minutes at that point. I thought, ‘What do I do? He’s knocked out. I don’t want to just cover him and that be it—the heat is going to go on Randy.’ I figured Warrior wasn’t moving, so I would just drop an elbow on him and hopefully that would wake him up and he’d kick out of it.’ So I dropped the elbow and covered him—I didn’t even grab his leg because I thought he was going to kick out.”
“And I heard, ‘One,’ so I grabbed his leg; ‘Two,’ I was still waiting for him to kick out and he didn’t kick out; ‘Three.’ The match was over and I was like, ‘What the hell?’ So I celebrated—I was the new World Champion.”
Following the contest, Ultimate Warrior regained enough consciousness and composure to vacate the ring and run to the back. Slaughter then revealed that the knockout blow from Savage wasn’t exactly an accident and the Macho Man had instead got his revenge after Ultimate Warrior put him on the shelf for several weeks.
“Warrior was still lying in the ring moaning. I don’t know how he did it, but he rolled out from one end of the ring to the other and started running back to the dressing room. I thought, ‘How is he doing that? He was completely knocked out!’”
“Like I was telling you earlier, a ‘potato’ means you are too stiff. Well, a receipt means, ‘You hurt me, I’m getting the payback’—and that’s what Randy Savage did. Warrior had hit him so hard in a match that he broke his hand and his arm. Randy was out for six weeks, or whatever it was, and wasn’t getting a pay check. That was taking money out of his pocket—which, other than breathing—the biggest thing in Macho Man’s life was making money. So that was his receipt to the Warrior for breaking his wrist and causing him financial burden.”
“Randy hit him so hard. He couldn’t wait to get out there. I was expecting just a little tap, and Warrior was going to fall back in the ring and we would continue our match. We had something planned where Adnan was going to grab the foot for the finish, but we never got to that. But that was Randy’s receipt and that’s what happened.”
Following his victory at the Royal Rumble, Sgt Slaughter headed to WrestleMania VII to take on Hulk Hogan. The event was famously switched from the LA Memorial Coliseum to the LA Memorial Sports Arena. During a recent podcast appearance, Slaughter explained that the switch was due to security concerns, rather than slow ticket sales.