In addition to “Woo!,” “This is awesome!” and “What?,” is there a crowd chant that has permeated wrestling arenas across the United States over the years more than “U-S-A!”
As we celebrate America’s independence, here’s a rundown of the pro wrestlers who celebrated America the most.
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7. The Patriot
“The Patriot” Del Wilkes had arguably the most straightforward American gimmick in the history of the business – a guy who came out in a red white and blue luchador mask waving the American flag.
What red-blooded-American wouldn’t cheer that? Especially 20 years ago?
The Patriot performed in Japan, WCW, WWE and other promotions in the mid to late 90s, before retiring due to torn triceps. Wilkes was later open about steroid and drug abuse during his time in pro wrestling, and spent nine months in prison in 2002 for forging a painkiller prescription, all of which is discussed in his 2015 DVD “Behind the Mask.”
6. The Real Americans
Probably the best thing about heel WWE tag team “The Real Americans” is that one half of that duo, Cesaro, played up his Swiss origins his entire career. Cesaro, along with Jack Swagger and manager Zeb Coulter (Dutch Mantel), was “Make America Great Again” long before Donald Trump became president, expressing a Tea Party ethos that paralleled and parodied conservative politics.
“We the People!” was declared by Cesaro, Swagger, and Coulter before every match, as they put their hands over their Real American hearts. They were supposed to be villains, but as time went on “We the People!” became a popular chant with most of the WWE Universe.
5. “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes
If Ric Flair was the wrestling face of arrogance and corporate greed in the 1980s, his antithesis was a humble “son of a plumber” who emphasized his working-class roots and traditional values.
“The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes was a Texan’s Texan — 10-gallon hats, blue jeans, cowboy boots, friendships with country singers Willie Nelson and David Allan Coe — with zero hesitance to whip anyone’s ass who ran down the good ol’ US of A.
Dusty spoke for the average American, the hardworking men, and women who did their best to support and raise their families, even during hard times. When President Ronald Reagan met with Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985, Rhodes, representing the U.S., would ally with “The Russian Nightmare” Nikita Koloff called “The Superpowers,” mirroring the politics of the day.
Rhodes even came up with one of the greatest patriotic promotional ideas in Jim Crockett Promotions, WCW and WWE history, “The Great American Bash.”
4. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan
And that was only the second most popular chant associated with “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan.
Except for our number one pick on this list, no other professional wrestler inspired chants of “U-S-A!” more than Duggan.
The WWE and WCW legend came to the ring with a 2X4 in one hand and the American flag in the other, to the delight of raucous crowds for most of his career.
Duggan was also the winner of the very first Royal Rumble in 1988.
3. Sgt. Slaughter
Since defending America’s honor against the dastardly Iron Sheik in 1984, WWE’s Sgt. Slaughter has been a leading champion of the red, white and blue.
Whether fighting America’s foes in the ring or as part of the popular GI Joe cartoon series, Slaughter was the quintessential American wrestling hero in the 1980s and 90s.
That is, until he turned against the United States in 1991, aligning himself with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.
Slaughter would eventually return to being a patriot and today still works for the WWE as an agent, making occasional appearances including insisting that Rusev recite the Pledge of Allegiance in 2014.
2. Kurt Angle
What’s more American than winning the gold medal for the U.S in the 1996 Olympics…
… WITH A BROKEN FREAKIN NECK?!?
Kurt Angle is considered one of the greatest entertainers and in-ring performers in pro wrestling history. There are few if any wrestlers that have wrapped themselves in the American flag more than the WWE Hall of Famer.
Debuting in WWE in 1998, Angle is considered one of the most natural performers by most of his peers in how fast he adapted to professional wrestling coming from an amateur background. Though he would end up spending most of his pro wrestling career to date in TNA, Angle returned to WWE in 2017.
Angle was supposed to be a heel. A pompous, goody-goody, self-righteous jock. Instead, Angle ended up being a fan favorite, despite the now tongue-in-cheek chants of “you suck!” every time he enters an arena.
Today, Angle is the General Manager of Monday Night RAW where he still often gets the loudest pop of the night.
1. Hulk Hogan
The most pro-American professional wrestler of all time–and don’t even try to argue this because you can’t–is Hulk Hogan.
The man who put professional wrestling on the map in the 1980s was not only the most prominent American flag-waving patriot to ever step in a ring but also the most popular WWE performer of all time until the mid-1990s.
Hogan is the Babe Ruth of wrestling.
Hulk carried the American banner throughout his entire 80s and 90s WWE run and when he finally jumped to WCW in 1994, what was his theme song? “American Made!”
Despite his wildly successful departure to the dark side when “Hollywood” Hogan joined the NWO in 1996, the classic Hulk Hogan was always the “realest” American for generations of little Hulkamaniacs.
When Hogan returned to WWE after WCW folded, he initially returned to his NWO character, but later after being pushed out of the WWE by Vince McMahon, someone claiming to represent Hogan made an appearance in 2003 as…
Later fans would learn that Mr. America, as hard as it was to believe, was indeed Hulk Hogan. Even in his dual personality, Hogan always put the red, white and blue first.
In professional wrestling, you don’t get any more American than Hulk Hogan. Period.
Whatcha gonna do when the Hulkster and American independence run wild on you!