World Wrestling Entertainment’s Sgt. Slaughter, on hand for autographs and photos before tipoff, is ready to lend a hand.
“Well I heard that the Iron Sheik is a Purdue fan, so we’re pulling for the Scarlet Knights when they go to battle,” Slaughter said. “… It’s Cobra Clutches and autographs [before the game], and then we’re going to see the Scarlet Knights enter the battlefield in a no-holds-barred, hand-to-hand combat with the Purdue Boilermakers. Coach Jordan told me that the Knights weren’t taking any prisoners.”
Slaughter became a Big Ten basketball fan while he wrestled for Verne Gagne’s AWA territory in Minnesota. He started following Rutgers when the Scarlet Knights joined the Big Ten in 2014, and reached an agreement in December to visit the RAC for promotional purposes.
“I’ve been watching Rutgers as much as I can,” Slaughter said. “Sometimes I catch them on television. It looks like they’re not doing too badly. The Big Ten conference is a tough one, and they beat Wisconsin and Penn State. That’s exciting.
“I’m a hard guy to please, but I’m sure that they’ll be playing to win the game. It should be a fun night. I hope I get to watch the whole game. Maybe, I’ll take a seat on the bench and inspire the team.”
"Well I heard that the Iron Sheik is a Purdue fan, so we’re pulling for the Scarlet Knights when they go to battle."
Slaughter is a member of the 2004 WWE Hall of Fame with multiple famous moments in the New York, New Jersey area. Now residing in North Carolina, Slaughter returns to Central Jersey Feb. 12, where he made professional wrestling history in 1980.
Before Hulk Hogan famously body slammed Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania III, the powerful Slaughter proved it possible in a match that took place in Plainfield, N.J.
“Back then, I was pretty good shape,” said Slaughter, who wrestled at 6-foot-4, 310 pounds in his prime. “I hit him with a clothesline into the ropes and he came right back at me, and I just barely got him up and I slammed him. I covered him, and he pushed right out at one. I looked down at him and he was laughing at it.
“I don’t think anyone every slammed him before. He got right back up and took a shot at me, and I ducked. I picked him up and I slammed him for the second time. Of course, he kicked out again and he beat me.”
WWF promoter Vince McMahon Sr. was not pleased to see his “eighth wonder of the world” exposed by a newcomer from the AWA, but complimented Slaughter for his feat of strength.
“The people that were there saw something that seemed impossible,” Slaughter said. “It’s just one of those moments that made me always remember New Jersey. He made me look like a Superman. I’d love to see some of those fans again at Rutgers.”
Arguably Slaughter’s greatest match took place less than an hour from Rutgers at the world’s most famous arena – Madison Square Garden.
Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer’s 1981 match of the year, Slaughter faced Pat Patterson in an “alley fight” that ended when Slaughter’s manager threw in the towel after a grueling 18 minutes.
“I’ve had a lot of great matches in New Jersey and New York,” Slaughter said. “I’ve had some great matches with the Iron Sheik, and the fans have always been great there. I’ve won a battle royal in New Jersey and that’s not easy to do.
“Being in Madison Square Garden, the Meadowlands, these areas are special. You go into Madison Square Garden and think of all of the famous people that sat in the same seat that you have from entertainers to sports stars to all of the greats. Rutgers University, I’ve never been there, but I’ve always known it as a high-academic institution and sports teams that play hard, work hard. It’s a great sports atmosphere, and I’m looking forward to seeing New Brunswick too.”
Slaughter is retired from in-ring action, but makes the occasional appearance when wrongs need to be righted for the WWE Universe. Slaughter works as an ambassador for the company, and most recently appeared in a Boot Camp Match during WWE’s Tribute to the Troops.
The two-time heavyweight champion and 2004 WWE Hall of Famer helped Dean Ambrose pin Bray Wyatt when he slipped the former Shield member a steel-toed boot.
The autograph and photo session with Slaughter begins at approximately 6 p.m. from concourse of the RAC.
“I’m happy to have the opportunity to come to Rutgers University, and I hope that people take the opportunity,” Slaughter said. “If you’re a WWE fan or Sgt. Slaughter fans or a G.I. Joe fan, I hope to see you out at the basketball game. A lot of fans probably remember some of what I did in my so-called heydays, where I was a top performer in my field. I love to meet my fans and sign memorabilia from those days. I hope they don’t miss the opportunity.”