WWE Hall Of Famer Sgt. Slaughter Recalls Pitching To Become A Babyface

Sgt. Slaughter first entered the public consciousness in the early 1980s, largely due to his association with the G.I. Joe franchise. At that time, he was a babyface, but some may forget that Slaughter was first brought into the WWE in the early '80s as a heel — not quite the heat magnet that wore Arab headdresses and praised Saddam Hussein as he did later, but a heel all the same.


On a recent episode of the podcast "Under the Ring", Slaughter went into detail on how his first babyface turn came about.

"Vince McMahon Sr. was still running the company," he said. "He kept patting me on the back and praising me [as a heel], and I said, 'Well, Mr. McMahon, if you think I'm such a great villain, you ought to see me as a hero.' And he said, 'A hero? Sgt. Slaughter a hero? Wait a minute, what are you talking about?'"

Slaughter apparently saw a big-money opportunity to feud with The Iron Sheik, based on real-life tensions at the time between America and Iran.

"We really never got any payback from what Ayatollah Khomeini did all those years," Slaughter explained. "We never got to punch him right in the nose for all the problems that he caused with the hostage situation and the killing of the Marines at the embassy, and the Black Hawks going down."


'Don't you ever turn Sgt. Slaughter into a hero, it won't work!'

Slaughter said that although the elder McMahon was intrigued, he didn't think a babyface turn would work long term. But Vince McMahon Jr., about to take over the company, saw Sarge's vision more clearly than his father.


"[Sr.] turned around and said, 'Vinnie, don't you ever turn Sgt. Slaughter into a hero, it won't work,'" Slaughter said. "And I hate to say it, but Mr. McMahon Sr. was wrong, because [Jr.] came to me about three weeks later and said 'I want to do what you told my father.'"

Slaughter thought he would be given time to develop the storyline, but McMahon told him he wanted to institute it that very night, with only Slaughter, McMahon and the production crew being made aware of the forthcoming promo. Apparently even The Iron Sheik was caught by surprise when Slaughter's music rang through the arena.

"I'm watching the monitor and I see Iron Sheik and Fred Blassie, I can read their lips, and they're saying 'Wrong music! They're playing the wrong music!'" Slaughter said. "And out I came, and the place went crazy."


Slaughter was able to turn his new babyface persona into a lucrative deal with Hasbro's G.I. Joe franchise, even voicing himself in the Saturday morning cartoon. Of course, he would eventually turn heel again, notoriously portraying his character as an Iraqi sympathizer in the early 1990s.