Former WWE professional wrestler and Hall of Famer Sgt. Slaughter knows a thing or two about what it’s like to perform in front of thousands of people on the WWE’s biggest stage, Wrestlemania. Slaughter’s most memorable match came at Wrestlemania VII when he went head to head with Hulk Hogan at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena in 1991.
Although he lost the match and the WWE championship to Hogan that night, Slaughter, who was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004, has been a part of the organization off and on over the last 25 years.
Today, as more of a spokesperson for the WWE, Slaughter, 67, still loves talking about his days grappling in the ring and what an event like Wrestlemania means to fans of the sport. Slaughter stopped by the Current offices earlier this week to chat about the upcoming Wrestlemania 32, which returns to Texas on Sunday, April 3, 2016 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Tickets for Wrestlemania 32 go on sale today, Nov. 6 at ticketmaster.com.
Other than helping promote the event, how are you going to be involved with Wrestlemania 32?
We’re always involved in just about everything. I look forward to the Hall of Fame [inductions]. We do a lot of events during the week. It’s like a weeklong celebration. We have Monday Night Raw and Wrestlemania Axxess. We’re in and out doing different media events all week. As far as getting into the ring, I’m not sure. It would be fun to get into the ring at the AT&T Stadium.
- The Camel Clutch.
Well, the Camel Clutch, it’s been a while. But the Cobra Clutch, I just put someone in it this morning.
They didn’t bring you the right breakfast?
Wrestlemania XXV was the last time the event was in Texas (Reliant Stadium in Houston). What do you think is going to make this trip back to Texas so special?
Well, it’s going to be one of those historic years. We’re going to break the record [set at] Wrestlemania III, which was 93,000 [spectators]. There’s never been a venue big enough to do that other than the Allied Coliseum, which I was a part of in Wrestlemania VII. We didn’t get the attendance record, but we had the Pay-Per-View record for a while. [Wrestlemania 32] is going to be phenomenal.
I know in the past, Wrestlemania has been held in venues with capacities of less than 20,000. What kinds of events do you like as an entertainer – one with 80,000-plus spectators in the stands or something more intimate?
Throughout my career, I’ve wrestled in front of thousands of people and I’ve wrestled in front of 12 people. It’s quite spectacular when you’re walking half a mile to get to a ring and there are people on both sides of you. In the smaller [indoor] events, it’s more fun for me because of the noise factor. We always wanted [the fans] to get as loud as they could. You’re goal was to blow the roof off the place.
San Antonio is a one sports town when it comes to professional sports with the Spurs being the only game we have, although we’re also considered Dallas Cowboys country. But WWE wrestling is also a huge draw as well. Why do you think the WWE resonates so well in a city like San Antonio?
I think it’s because San Antonio knows what professional wrestling is all about and they want to be entertained. They liked to be performed to, like they are with the Spurs. I’ve been involved in a couple of Spurs games and I see how fans can be the sixth player on the court. It can be pretty one-sided sometimes when the crowd is on your side. [San Antonio] knows what the WWE is all about. It makes it easier for us because you know what [San Antonio fans] want to see.
I’m sure you know that one of San Antonio’s nicknames is Military City U.S.A. Do you feel closer to the city because of that?
It was always easier for me [to perform in San Antonio] because I was always the villain or the hero. It was always good to get [San Antonians] mad at me or always good to have them cheer for me. They appreciated being entertained.
San Antonio has been host to a few WWE events in the past. Do you think we could handle an event as big as Wrestlemania?
I’m sure that’s been on the table many times. I’m not sure where they would have it, but [San Antonio] has always been a place where we know there is always going to be a big crowd and a fine crowd. Wrestlemania is a weeklong celebration and there is a lot to do in [San Antonio].
Who would you like to see inducted into the 2016 WWE Hall of Fame in April?
I’m hoping the [Fabulous] Freebirds might get in. I know all the Von Erichs might be in already, I believe. There are so many great superstars that came out of Texas. It’s fun for me not to know. I want to be surprised. I want to be excited just like everybody else. It’s one of my favorite nights of the whole year to go to the Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Where do you and your friend the Iron Shiek stand today?
I wouldn’t say he’s my friend. We had some wars together. I don’t know if he’s forgiven me or not, but I don’t think I’ve forgiven him. I went after him because we never got the opportunity to get back at Iran for all they did to us with the hostage situation and killing of the Marines at the Embassy. When I came back for my second tour of duty with the WWE, I sat down with the McMahons (WWE owners) and they were so happy I was back. They said I was the greatest villain of all time. I said, “Well, if you think I’m a great villain, you should see me as a hero.” I told them the same story I just told you and said, “Why don’t you let Sgt. Slaughter go after the Iron Shiek?” It just worked out that way.
It’s so interesting how things have changed since then. There’s no way the WWE would create a villain character today that was a member of ISIS like they did with enemies from Iran and Iraq back in the 90s.
Yeah, all that happened before 9/11. Our whole world changed after that day. [The WWE] is a different vehicle today. We’re sports entertainment. [The WWE] has gotten so much global attention now. We’re on everywhere. I heard that India has now gotten into our network. It has really blossomed everywhere.
A new documentary on Jake the Snake Roberts was released this year that talks about Jake’s life as a wrestler and his struggles with addiction. The story isn’t a rare one for former WWE wrestlers. Do you think that story is still an important one to tell?
I think it’s important for Jake to tell his story. A lot of people didn’t know what happened to him and how it happened. He’s one of the better characters and performers we had. He kind of just fell off the map. I haven’t seen the documentary myself, but I’m looking forward to seeing it. I’ve run into him a couple of times and he is the same guy. He still rags on me because I [participated] in some of his first matches. He told me I made him do things he had never done before in the ring. He just smiles and grins about it.
Thanks for stopping by, Serge. It sounds like it’s a good time to be a part of the WWE.
It’s a good time to be in the WWE and a good time to say you’re a part of it as a legend and as someone in the Hall of Fame. People respect you for the road you paved to keep it going. I always get the chance to thank the talent of today for all their hard work because they continue what we set out to do. Now, here we are at Wrestlemania 32.
Wow, 32 years. That sounds surreal.
Yeah, I always joke that [WWE CEO] Vince McMahon will probably have Wrestlemania on the moon or Mars one day. We’re getting pretty close to it.
Hey, they found water or Mars so…
We can do a Pay-Per-View there!