"True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else."- Clarence Darrow
In a recent email conversation with Podswoggle guest writer Brian Jaeger, our fapping friend closed his message with something he is great at: a totally random reference to a wrestler from yore. At this point, it is a game within itself to see whose name is going to vacate his mouth. In this particular email, he did not disappoint. The email closed with the following statement.
“Do you remember the Patriot? That was dumb.”
Sure, Jaeger’s opinions are on the other side of the tracks (that’s right, Jaeger’s opinions live right next to Deuce and Domino). But…WHOA!!!! Besides being completely un-American, Jaeger is unequivocally wrong. The Patriot, in all of his glory, is a legend and a brilliant entertainer that has blazed a trail for everyone after him in so many awesome ways.
First, you have the look. Decked out in the good old red, white and blue of the great US of A, the Patriot wore his colors proud. Now, you may be thinking to yourself “Big whoop, there were a bunch of patriotic characters. What made this guy so different?" Well, for starters, he was THE Patriot. On top of that, while there may have been others who bared our nation’s stripes and stood up for what this country believed in, none of them HID THEIR FACES UNDER A MASK WITH A BIG ASS EAGLE ON IT. You thought masks were only for luchadores or villains, you are dead wrong. Masks were also used by upstanding citizens to conceal their identity for reasons…that are still undetermined, but undoubtedly noble.
Besides, in WWE in 1997, The Patriot had a great sit-down interview on Raw where he took the mask off to reveal the real man behind thePatriot, Del Wilkes (man, if that doesn’t sound like the name of a guy in Montana who owns his own carpet business, but the town is super small, so he’s the sheriff of the town as well). When you take off the mask, what else are you going to do as the Patriot? You are going to reveal your former drug and steroid abuse! Never mind the undertones that he could’ve been hiding his face to legal reasons. He was the Patriot and he was coming clean a good six years until he came into prominence in wrestling fans’ minds! Also, it was great to see what was behind the mask and watch Del Wilkes forge on as his own man…putting the mask back on…and being called “The Patriot” Del Wilkes.
The Patriot was a trailblazer in the world of wrestling beyond the scope of look and character. He had a keen sense of what the future was going to entail. Here are his three biggest contributions to the wrestling business, in this writer’s mind.
1. The Patriot’s theme in WWF was a little ditty later known as “Medal.” When the Patriot wrapped up his short stay in WWE, that track patiently waited on the sidelines with other great songs like “All-American Boys” and “Girls in Cars.” 2 years later, it was able to be called back up to the major leagues for a little guy named Kurt Angle. Without the Patriot paving the way, those glorious chants of “You Suck” may have never rang out as one of the greatest wrestlers to ever lace up a pair of boots entered the arena.
2. His finished in WWF, a pretty standard full nelson slam, needed some flair added to it. Quick thinking as always, Mr. Wilkes changed nothing to the move but its name. Its new title was the UNCLE SLAM. Let it sink in. Close your eyes. You see the poster. He’s pointing at you. Then, all of a sudden, in the deepest reaches of your conscience, imagine that hat-wearing motherfucker dropping your ass on the mat! Seriously, the Patriot created a trend that I’m fine with continuing forever: the punniest of finishing move names. Without the Uncle Slam, we wouldn’t ever have experienced the Sweet Shin Music or anything Edge ever did or the Hollycaust. Don’t let that one sink in. Open your eyes! No, you see nothing!
3. In WCW, he was one-half of the tag team Stars ‘N Stripes. His partner was everybody’s favorite Mommy’s boy, Marcus Alexander Bagwell. Along the way, the team had some success, including two WCW Tag Title reigns. The biggest contribution to the team The Patriot made, besides the entire gimmick, was the sheer fact that he taught Bagwell absolutely NOTHING. Think about it, if the Patriot had actually shown Bagwell some techniques or given him advice, we might be talking about that four-star classic Buff Bagwell had with Booker T on Raw in 2001. However, the Patriot had the wherewithal to realize what a scum bucket Bagwell was and didn’t show him squat. Now, Buff Bagwell is in wrestling purgatory and we have the Patriot to thank for it.
I could rattle off Patriot accomplishments, highlights and positives for days (he had the coolest WWF BendEm that yours truly owns…after buying it just two months ago online). The facts are right in front of you. He had a great career spanning the AWA, GWF (which deserves a Rise and Fall DVD…ok, maybe it could be like a five-minute extra), WCW, AJPW and WWF. He fought off Pretty Wonderful! He stood up to the Hart Foundation! He possibly sold the rights to the character to Tom Brandi! He’s a true hero and a legend in the world of professional wrestling.
You could call him Del Wilkes.
You could call him the Patriot.
You could even call him The Trooper as he was known in the AWA.
Just don’t call him dumb.