Only Lex Luger -- powered by the American spirit -- could slam this man, Yokozuna. Photo by Mandy Coombes on Flickr.
If Vince McMahon is anything, he's an extremely patriotic American who has used his pro wrestling promotion, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) -- later renamed World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) -- to live out his fantasies of the good old U.S. of A. overcoming any and all challengers.
Throughout his time in power, McMahon has found various ways to do this, usually by building up a terrible foreign wrestler just to job him out to the American champion at the time.
But on this date in WWF history (July 4, 1993), he took it to an entirely new -- and insanely silly -- level.
Early 1993 was a time of transition for the WWF. The company was in the midst of a major overhaul, as the steroid scandals had rocked the organization to its core and led to the removal of a lot of key parts, Hulk Hogan chief among them. This ushered in a new era led by smaller, more technical wrestlers like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. But there were a few big boys left and one of them was future Hall of Famer Yokozuna.
The Samoan beast came into the WWF in late 1992 and was quickly given a huge push, winning the 1993 Royal Rumble and then the championship at WrestleMania 9 over Hart, though he lost it to Hogan just minutes later. He would win it back at King of the Ring, however, and he was all set to reign as a monster heel who was hailed from Japan and squashed all comers.
As a way to celebrate his dominance, the WWF set up what they would call a Bodyslam Challenge aboard the USS Intrepid, a decommissioned aircraft carrier, on the Fourth of July. The idea was that no professional athlete from any sport could actually pick Yokozuna up and slam him. The prize for doing so would be a red, white, and blue pick up truck and the ability to make the claim, according to the WWF, that said person had "defended the pride of America."
So they brought out a ton of different names. Among them: Peter Taglianetti of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Scott Burell of the Charlotte Hornets, Keith Sims of the Miami Dolphins, Gary Baldinger of the Buffalo Bills, Bill Frallic of the Detroit Lions, Rick Steiner, Scott Steiner, Crush, and Macho Man Randy Savage.
Each man failed. But before they declared Yokozuna triumphant over America, one man made a dramatic entrance via helicopter to save the day. They speculated who it was that was rolling in. Perhaps Hogan, the "Real American," was back to once again defend the honor of this great country. But no. He was gone.
In his place -- Lex Luger.
Indeed, Luger got off the helicopter wearing a flag for a shirt and hit the ring to attempt to slam Yokozuna. The champion charged the challenger but was sent into the corner before Lex landed a forearm. On the comeback, Luger picked up the more than 500-pound monster and slammed him.
America wins again.
This was actually the beginning of Luger's big push as Hogan's replacement. Gone was "The Narcissist" and in its place was "The All-American" who was "Made in the U.S.A." Suddenly he was touring around the country in a bus known as "The Lex Express" and given a huge push as the next big babyface to carry the company. The gimmick was ultimately a flop and never really got over anything close to what they were hoping for.
But we'll always have the Yokozuna Bodyslam Challenge. Watch the video after the jump.