Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sgt. Slaughter [Pro Wrestling Diaries - Shoot Interview]

The Good
I had heard a lot of positive references to the Pro Wrestling Diary shoot interviews and while it did not seem like they featured the biggest stars, I'll take a great interview with a mid-carder than a poor one with a superstar any day. Sgt. Slaughter certainly is no mid-carder and this four-hour affair drives that point home. Often pro-wrestlers who stick around can get pegged with weird legacies. He still shows up on WWE television, looks practically the same as he did during his bizarre early 1990s heel run and comes across very cartoonish. Back in the day, Sgt. Slaughter was one a helluva big bumping heel headlining against Bob Backlund and Pat Patterson in MSG, Steamboat & Youngblood in the Carolinas and delivering some memorable promos along the way. That five year run alone would have made him legend, but then he turned babyface and was one of the biggest around. This interview goes through those years in great detail and with funny anecdotes and sharp insight. The early years of Bob Remus are told as well and, in fact, him recounting about his father sending him off to follow his dreams rather than stay roofing in Minnesota is a touching story. The story of his showdown with Billy Robinson before entering Verne Gagne's camp is one I'd never heard before and there were others that when told by the Sarge himself were just priceless. His later WWF run and stints in the late 90s and beyond were covered, but thankfully not the focal point of this interview, a drawback of so many shoot interviews. By the end of this, I was convinced of Sgt. Slaughter's greatness and feel bad that he's become a cartoonish caricature of himself in the past few years.

The Bad
I had known that Sgt. Slaughter was a legit Marine and had been a drill instructor, but you'd expect that to be explored some more. While it is mentioned and he refers to aspects of that time and how it influenced his Sgt. Slaughter persona, it was not given the time or focus I expected. Many pro-wrestlers have had military gimmicks and his is legit and he is the quintessential military-gimmicked wrestler, but it is largely limited to his passing references. This could simply be an area that he did not want to discuss or it is not as defining a life experience as one might expect, but it was the glaring omission in this extensive and thorough shoot interview. Overall, this was great and I have few complaints about this and will definitely check out any PWD shoots that come out.

The Rating: *****

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