Memorial Day is one of the most important days of every year. It’s when we pay tribute to those soldiers that paid the ultimate price while serving our country. Whether we agree with the way the military is used or not, we respect every man & woman that puts on the uniform. They do it so we don’t have to.
Pro wrestling’s history is littered with veterans that made the transition to wrestling after serving in the military. I’d think it would only be natural for folks that have spent years fighting for real to continue fighting in a manner that’s less serious. Today we take a look at the top 5 wrestlers that served in the military.
5. Lacey Evans
NXT has recently been graced with the presence of some military alumni. Steven Cutler served in the Marine Corps, as did Montez Ford. Lacey Evans, the Lady of NXT, also served in the Marine Corps. If you know me & my preferences when it comes to wrestlers, you know which one of those three I’m putting on this list.
Evans served for five years & was a member of the Marine Corps Special Reaction Team. She also got a degree & started her own business while on duty. Hard workers like Lacey make lazy people like me look bad. She’s finding her groove as a heel & is involved in an interesting feud with Kairi Sane at the moment.
4. Sgt. Craig “Pitbull” Pittman
Pittman entered the Marine Corps after college & continued his amateur wrestling career while attaining the rank of sergeant. I think he could have achieved much more than he did in WCW, as he had the credibility & presence to be a big player. “The beatings will continue until morale improves” was a great motto. He was the first wrestler to regularly use the cross armbreaker as a finisher, which I still find myself calling the Code Red armbar.
3. Jesse Ventura
Ventura served in the Navy during the Vietnam War as part of the Underwater Demolition Team. While he didn’t see combat, he destroyed obstacles for amphibious landings in the Philippines. His claims that blood clots in his legs that led to his retirement were due to Agent Orange are likely unfounded, but we all love a good story.
2. Road Dogg
SmackDown’s current head writer & former Tag Team Champion of the World followed his his father’s footsteps. “Bullet” Bob was a famous wrestler & served in the Marine Corps, & his youngest son Brian did the same thing. Before diving completely into pro wrestling, Brian fought in Operation Desert Storm as a platoon sergeant.
Towards the end of his stint in the Marines, Brian started appearing in Smoky Mountain Wrestling as The Dark Secret. The masked persona was to keep his superiors from knowing what he was doing on the weekends. They might not have liked an active Marine in the wrestling business.
Honorable Mention: Perry Saturn
Saturn served for four years as an Army Ranger before getting into wrestling. His time there pretty much meant that nothing the business could throw at him would bother him that much.
Honorable Mention: Verne Gagne
Verne served in the Marine Corps for two years between stints at the University of Minnesota. He was around for the end of World War II & was part of the Underwater Demolition Team.
Dishonorable Mention: Randy Orton
Military service isn’t for everybody. I admit it wasn’t for me, and Orton figured out early in his tenure with the Marine Corps that it wasn’t for him. He went AWOL twice & disobeyed an order from a commanding officer, leading to a bad conduct discharge. Orton was actually tapped to star in The Marine 2 until fans noted Orton’s less than stellar military stint. I’m still not sure how that one slipped through the cracks.
1. Sgt. Slaughter
When you think wrestlers with military ties, you think Sgt. Slaughter. It was a gimmick that was true to life. Robert Remus really was a Marine Corps drill instructor that drove his cadets nuts, earning the nickname “Sgt. Slaughter”. After some years early in the business as Super Destroyer Mark 2, Slaughter looked to his real life story to find a character that worked for him.
Early on, he was an angry sergeant that rubbed fans the wrong way with his bossing people around. Eventually he became an American hero, defending our country against the evil Iranians & Russians. Once the Gulf War came along, he became an Iraqi sympathizer, but learned the error of his ways & got his country back. He’s been a beloved patriotic figure ever since.