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Ken Resnick On Sgt. Slaughter Leaving WWE Over Licensing Issues

November 28, 2020 | Posted by Joseph Lee
Sgt. Slaughter

In the latest edition of Wrestling with History, Ken Resnick spoke about why Sgt. Slaughter left the WWE over licensing, wrestlers being independent contractors and more. Here are highlights, courtesy of VOC Nation:

On Kerry Von Erich: “Kerry didn’t have the over the top type of mic skills that a Hogan did or a Flair did. A lot of (the Von Erichs’) great success was – like Greg Gagne, who never came close to that success – (was) because Fritz ran the territory. A lot of it was how they were booked and how they were used, coupled with their talents in the ring.”

On Sgt Slaughter leaving WWE over licensing: “From a wrestling standpoint, I think Sarge could have certainly carried (the ball); maybe not to the umpth degree of success that Hulk Hogan had. On the business standpoint, Vince would have never allowed (the 3rd party licensing deals) and that was huge for Sgt Slaughter. Not only getting (him) known across the country, but financially. I mean to this day, as successful as the GI Joe toy line, movie line, cartoon line (is), Sarge is still the only actual living person to be featured. There was some GI Joe Hasbro toys that had a Sgt Slaughter doll come with it… Would Vince have allowed him to do the GI Joe? Probably (only) if Vince had gotten a cut of it. Whether Sarge would have gone along with that, I don’t know.”

On wrestlers being independent contractors: “The independent contractor status they’ve been able to continue because Vince has really, really, really good lawyers. The fact that they tell you (that) you can’t work for anyone else, they tell you where you have to be, what time you have to be there, what you have to do (and) you can’t have any social media presence of your own, but oh yeah you’re still an independent contractor… It just defies all logic.”

On preparation and production for Piper’s Pit: “A lot of it was just what Roddy would come up with. He was pretty much his own producer. If they were going to run an angle they would kind of lay it out, but (otherwise) Roddy would just wing it. I can only speak specifically to the Piper’s Pit that I was on, and I didn’t find out until just a few hours before (the taping). We were doing interviews and things and Vince came up to me and said ‘you’re going to be on Piper’s Pit tonight, you’re going to be his guest.’ First I thought he was ribbing me. He said ‘he’s going to bring you out, talk to you, and then Adrian (Adonis) is going to come out and then you just step back out of the way.’ When it came time for Piper’s Pit, I was right behind the curtain with Roddy and we hadn’t gone over anything. This was all gonna be Roddy.”

On over production leading to a lack of passion: “In the sometimes 75 to 100 interviews that I would do with talent during the day, they might say ‘here’s the angle you’re going to talk about’ or ‘make sure you hit this point or that point’ but none of it was rehearsed. And I mean none of it… Today if anything, it’s almost like they’re overproduced. That’s one of the things that might be hurting WWE a little bit is because it is so tightly produced that the talent sometimes is preoccupied trying to remember exactly what they are supposed to say. When you’re trying to remember what to do instead of just doing something, it just loses some of the passion that we would see in the interviews all throughout the 80s into the 90s. Now that the passion has been removed, there’s (no longer) the over the top mega stars that people can’t wait to see.”

On the lack of importance of ring announcers in the AWA vs WWE: “If you could have one guy doing two different things, that meant you didn’t have to hire somebody to do the second part. In the AWA when I started, the ring announcer was more perfunctory… When I got to WWE it was of course Howard Finkel who Vince had allowed to become a bit of a personality himself. Vern viewed the job of a ring announcer was to just interview the people that were the stars… Along with Howard, Vince brought in Mike McGuirk, the first big time female ring announcer. Vince kind of had the view that anybody that could somewhat be a draw and made someone want to tune in or buy a ticket in person, all the better.”

Wrestling with History featuring former WWE and AWA broadcaster Ken Resnick drops every Wednesday on VOC Nation and dives deep into each year of the 1980s and 1990s contrasted with today’s product.

You can embed the episode to your site here:

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Sgt. Slaughter, Joseph Lee