COMMENTARY | For both babyface and heel professional wrestlers, using a military rank as part of one's name has been a great way to get over with fans.
During the Cold War, simple military ranks such as sergeant or private helped popular wrestlers rally fans to their cause. Sometimes these wrestlers were feuding with foreign adversaries, but often they simply used military titles to evoke cheers on a regular basis. On the other hand, foreign heels who used military titles drew raw emotion from the crowd in an era when such gimmicks could lead to attacks from fans that were more dangerous than the matches.
Take a look back at the top 10 wrestlers who used military titles in their names.
10. Sergeant Craig Pittman
Although most wrestlers who've used the military gimmick never served in the armed forces, that cannot be said of Craig Pittman. Before training at the Power Plant, he was a sergeant in the U.S. Marines. He was also an outstanding amateur wrestler. Pittman was later a WCW mid-card wrestler in the mid-1990s, where he used his real military title.
9. Colonel Robert Parker
Robert Fuller was a successful wrestler in the southern territories long before he adopted his military title. After joining WCW as a manager, he used the name Colonel Robert Parker. He called his heel faction the Stud Stable, which was the same name he had used for his stable a decade earlier. Colonel Parker was a hilarious character in WCW.
8. Private Don Kernodle
Private Don Kernodle is one of the few heel wrestlers who used an American military gimmick. He and Private Jim Nelson formed an NWA tag team in the early 1980s. However, Kernodle earned his greatest fame tagging with Sergeant Slaughter. Their feud with Rick Steamboat and Jay Youngblood is one of the greatest rivalries in wrestling history.
7. General Skandor Akbar
I grew up watching General Skandor Akbar in Mid-South. I missed most of his wrestling career, in which he won the North American Championship. But I remember him well as a villainous heel manager, often throwing fireballs in wrestlers' eyes. Akbar was also a successful heel manager in Texas, guiding the careers of many foreign heels.
6. Colonel DeBeers
Ed Wiskoski was a mid-card wrestler in the 1980s who capitalized on the Apartheid controversy in South Africa to become one of the AWA's most hated heels. As Colonel DeBeers, he was one of the last wrestlers to use racial overtones in his promos. DeBeers is also famous for his unique handlebar mustache and military camouflage gear.
5. General Adnan
Legend has it that Adnan Al-Kaissie defeated Andre the Giant in Iraq in the 1970s. Al-Kaissie was legitimately born in Iraq and he was a great amateur wrestler in America. He is most famous as Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissey, but he adopted the military title of General Adnan in the WWF as Sergeant Slaughter's Iraqi manager in his infamous heel turn.
4. Sailor Art Thomas
Technically, sailor is not a military rank in any branch of the U.S. armed forces. However, the term sailor applies to members of the U.S. Navy, so Sailor Art Thomas belongs on this list. Thomas was one of the most successful black wrestlers of the mid-20th century and he had several matches for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
3. Colonel Mustafa
Most wrestling fans remember Colonel Mustafa as The Iron Sheik. But when General Adnan began managing Sergeant Slaughter in the WWF, The Iron Sheik joined their stable and adopted his new military title. His stint as Colonel Mustafa is overshadowed by Slaughter, but he did have one more feud with Hulk Hogan in the early 1990s.
2. Captain Lou Albano
Few wrestling fans would ever associate Lou Albano with the military. But since he used the military title of captain, Albano technically belongs here. After a successful wrestling career, Captain Lou Albano gained his greatest fame as one of the greatest managers in history. He also helped the WWF kickstart its famous Rock 'n' Wrestling storyline.
1. Sergeant Slaughter
With connections to several other aforementioned wrestlers with military titles, the case for Sergeant Slaughter ranking atop this list is already made. As a heel, he was a bullying U.S. Marine taskmaster and an Iraqi sympathizer. As a face, he was a military hero in the WWF and AWA. And to top it off, Slaughter was also a character in G.I. Joe.
Patrick Michael lives in New Orleans and has always been a big fan of pro wrestling. Patrick's favorite wrestling promotion was Mid-South Wrestling back in the 1980s. Patrick's favorite wrestling angle of all-time was the NWO and his favorite wrestler is Roddy Piper. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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