WWE has been a game changer in the wrestling industry as it brought wrestling from the territories to the world stage.
1. Sergeant Slaughter
Robert Remus played the character of Sergeant Slaughter, a former U.S. Marine who fought in the Vietnam War. He started using the gimmick in 1980. Remus bought some surplus military gear and started to act as a tough-as-nails drill instructor who would call his opponents scum, slime and maggots.
Sarge had notable feuds with the biggest stars of the 80s, such as Bob Backlund, The Iron Sheik and Hulk Hogan. Slaughter had to leave the WWF in 1985 due to a dispute over his G.I. Joe deal. After his G.I. Joe gig was up, Slaughter returned to the WWF in 1990 where he turned heel and became an Iraqi sympathizer. He became associated with former rival The Iron Sheik, who was now known as Colonel Mustafa.
Slaughter beat the Ultimate Warrior with the help of "The Macho Man" Randy Savage. He became the 13th champion of the company and went on to defend it at Wrestlemania VII against Hulk Hogan. Hogan beat Slaughter at the grandest stage of them all.
Slaughter would wrestle until 1994 and would return as a commissioner in 1997. This period was best remembered for his feud with Degeneration X, which included Shawn Michaels, Triple H and Chyna. As Vince McMahon became a bigger on-screen character, Slaughter soon became one of his henchmen. Sarge would still wrestle from time to time and would make sporadic guest appearances.
Sergeant Slaughter would be a controversial figure as many believed he actually served the military, which he never did.
Sergeant Slaughter Becomes Part of G.I. Joe
Hasbro was interested in making the popular wrestler their pitchman. They approached Remus' attorney and scheduled an appointment with Sarge. He rode a camouflaged limousine to the meeting and soon inked a deal with the toy manufacturer. Slaughter would have action figures from 1985-1989. He was the brand's spokesperson from 1989 to 1990.
Hasbro stopped making Sergeant Slaughter figures when he turned heel and became an Iraqi sympathizer. New Sergeant Slaughter figures would be released years later as limited edition releases and as convention exclusives.
2. "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase
One of the most memorable things about "The Million Dollar Man" was the vignettes he did to tell people how rich he was. In one vignette, Ted was counting money in his car and gets a paper cut. He tells Virgil to get him to a doctor. Ted tries to see a doctor immediately but the nurse says that there are several people in line. Ted tries to bribe the nurse a few times and she finally agrees.
In another vignette, Ted gives a lecture that money is more important than morals and pride. He and Virgil drop by a public pool and attempt to bribe the manager to close it down so they could use it. After a few bribery attempts, the pool manager agrees. He then boots out all the people from the pool and says there is too much chlorine in the water. The kids watch as Ted has the pool all to himself.
In yet another vignette, Ted brags how talented he was while riding in his car. He and Virgil stop over for lunch. The restaurant is packed with guests on the waiting list. Ted wanted a seat immediately and bribed the head waiter. One of the patrons gets upset and Virgil quickly dispatches him.
3. The Honky Tonk Man
Roy Wayne Farris looks like an Elvis impersonator from Las Vegas, but he is an actual wrestler! The Honky Tonk Man made his televised WWF debut on September 28, 1986, on an episode of Wrestling Challenge. He handily defeated jobber Terry Gibbs.
Originally a babyface, Farris did not gain much love from the WWF fans. He turned heel and had Colonel Jimmy Hart as his manager. This a dig at Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis' manager. Honky Tonk's first major feud was against Jake "The Snake" Roberts. This began when Honky Tonk attacked Roberts on his show, The Snake Pit. Roberts claims that Honky Tonk was supposed to use a gimmicked guitar to attack him but used a real one instead. Jake claims that this incident started his drug dependency as he spent weeks in pain.
Honky would beat Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat on June 13, 1987, on an episode of Superstars where he captured the WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship. He would go on and hold the belt for 454 days until he was squashed by The Ultimate Warrior in half a minute at the very first Summerslam.
Honky would go on to team up with Greg "The Hammer" Valentine to form the tag team "Rhythm and Blues." The team had a two-year run, but they never captured any gold. Since then, he has had stints in the WWF/WWE as a commentator, manager and occasional wrestler.
Roy Wayne Farris has wrestling in his blood as he is the cousin of Jerry "The King" Lawler.
The 454-Day Intercontinental Championship Reign
Honky Tonk was by no means a dominant heel like "The Almighty" Bobby Lashley and Yokozuna. He was the typical cowardly heel who tried to bend the rules and keep his title through countouts and disqualifications. He had feuds with Randy Savage, Bruno Sammartino, Ricky Steamboat, Billy Jack Haynes and George "The Animal" Steele. He managed to keep his title for a year and a half through using his guitar, interference from Jimmy Hart and interference from his fellow wrestlers such as The Hart Foundation. Honky Tonk was a cowardly heel, similar to what The Miz is today.
4. Bret "The Hitman" Hart
Bret "The Hitman" Hart is perhaps one of the greatest technical wrestlers in WWF/WWE history. Bret was the master of grappling and submission holds. Bret's offense made sense as he focused on a body part to weaken his opponent for his finishing move, the "Sharpshooter." Among Bret's most used submission holds were the Sharpshooter, Figure Four Leglock and Boston Crab.
Bret was initially a tag team specialist alongside his brother-in-law Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, but he eventually became one of the company's biggest single stars of all time. Bret is one of the most decorated wrestlers in WWF/WWE history with five reigns as the WWF Champion, two reigns as Tag Team Champion, two reigns as Intercontinental Champion and one reign as United States Champion. He is also a one-time Royal Rumble winner and two-time King of the Ring winner.
Bret is best remembered in WWF/WWE as the face of "The New Generation." He is also fondly remembered for his role as the patriarch of the stable called "The Hart Foundation." It consisted of Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, Davey Boy Smith and Brian Pillman. This faction was cheered in Europe and Canada and booed in the United States.
At one point, the stable held all the titles— the WWF World Heavyweight Championship, the WWF Intercontinental Championship, the WWF European Championship and the WWF Tag Team Championship.
Bret would leave the WWF on bad terms when Vince McMahon screwed him in Montreal as he changed the finish of his match with Shawn Michaels without his knowledge. This would be known as "The Montreal Screwjob." Bret would since return to the company in 2005 to film a documentary and to also receive a WWE Hall of Fame induction. He would return to being an on air personality in 2009 and 2010 and would have several matches, including a WrestleMania XXVI match with Vince McMahon. He would also have a stint as Raw General Manager.
The Montreal Screwjob
This is perhaps wrestlings greatest double-cross.
Bret considered Vince to be a father figure and had worked for him for more than a decade. His family had also supplied wrestlers to Vince as many people from Stampede Wrestling ended up with the WWF. This included Owen Hart, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart and Davey Boy Smith.
The WWF had fallen on hard times and business was not good, so they could not afford to pay Bret Hart. Vince encouraged Bret to take WCW's offer. He signed with WCW, and the contract started on December of 1997.
On November 9, 1997, at Survivor Series, the planned finish was a run-in that would result in a disqualification where Bret would keep his title. Bret had refused to lose his title to Shawn Michaels in his home country of Canada. He agreed to lose or forfeit it at a later date. Bret was worried about the match, so he talked to Earl Hebner. Earl swore he was in Bret's corner.
Nothing seemed suspicious until Shawn Michaels placed Bret in a sharpshooter. Bret did not tap out, yet Earl Hebner called for the bell and awarded the match to Shawn Michaels. Bret was pissed off and spat at Vince McMahon and destroyed some equipment. He later confronted Shawn and Hunter Hearst Helmsley, but the two were too afraid to tell the truth. Bret ended up punching Vince before he left the company.
5. "Macho Man" Randy Savage
"OH YEEEAAHH! OOOOHHHH YEAH!!!"
Along with Hulk Hogan, The Rock and Steve Austin, the "Macho Man" Randy Savage is one of the most recognizable wrestlers on the planet. His deep raspy voice, unique promos and colorful outfits set him apart from the rest. Savage was the complete package. He was a larger than life character, had an awesome physique, had excellent mic and promo skills and had superb wrestling ability.
Randy had two reigns as the WWF Champion and 1 reign as Intercontinental Champion. He is also a one-time King of the Ring winner. He had notable feuds with the likes of Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat and Jake "The Snake" Roberts. Savage versus Steamboat at Wrestlemania 3 was perhaps Randy's greatest match in the promotion.
During the tail end of Randy's WWF stint, the WWF was moving towards younger wrestlers. Savage was relegated to the announcer's desk alongside Vince McMahon. Though Savage did a good job in the announcer's booth, he felt he still had some gas left in the tank and wanted to have a program with Shawn Michaels. Vince rejected the idea and Savage left for WCW as the company let him wrestle.
Fallout With Vince McMahon
It is very unclear on why Randy Savage never returned to the WWF/WWE after his WCW run. A lot of wrestlers who left Vince McMahon, such as Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior and Bret Hart, eventually came back.
It is speculated that this was due to Randy taking the Slim Jim sponsorship with him to WCW. This was at a time when the WWF fell on hard times. It is also speculated that Randy had an affair with a young Stephanie McMahon. There is no proof of this relationship though.
© 2021 Jan Michael Ong
Jan Michael Ong (author) from Metro Manila, Philippines on June 11, 2021:
Thank you hira
hira from faisalabad on June 11, 2021: