Pro wrestling icon Hulk Hogan is taking a moment to reflect on his first WWF championship win. Today marks the 37th anniversary of the Hulkster’s first title belt. This win would be the first step in the wrestler’s rise to superstardom. With that victory, he gave birth to Hulkamania.
Hulk Hogan tweeted about the legendary night with a photo of him pinning the Iron Sheik to take home the belt. In the post, he mentions that the win changed the wrestling business forever. He’s not exaggerating, either.
January 23d 1984 I was driving to NY from Stanford Ct ,little did I know the wrestling business would change forever after that night!!! HULKAMANIA WILL LIVE FOREVER!!!! Hh pic.twitter.com/y5Sp8RS0Dw— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) January 23, 2021
Hulk Hogan Gets the 3-Count and Changes the World
The Iron Sheik took the championship from Bob Backlund. Backlund held the belt for almost six years before losing it. In the weeks following the loss, he scheduled a rematch with the Sheik. However, Backlund was injured. So, a young golden-haired brute named Hulk Hogan stepped in for him.
That night, Hulk Hogan made history before winning the match. He was the first wrestler to escape Iron Sheik’s devastating submission hold, the Camel Clutch. To do this, Hulk stood with the Sheik’s weight on his back. He then slammed the Iranian wrestler into the turnbuckle. Once the Iron Sheik was on his back, the Hulkster served him an Atomic Leg Drop and pinned him for the three-count.
The crowd went wild as Hulk Hogan held the belt aloft. He pointed first to the belt, then to the crowd telling them, “This is for you.”
Before The Rock ever laced up his boots, Hulk was the people’s champion.
This wasn’t just a win for Hulk Hogan. It was more than a ‘face getting over on a heel. In the eyes of WWF fans, this was a win for America.
The Hulkster was a Southern-born working-class hero to his fans. He had taken the gold from the Iranian Sheik. The already-popular wrestler skyrocketed to superstardom. His fame within the sport started to bleed out into other areas of entertainment.
Soon, Hulkamania was bringing more attention to professional wrestling. Hulk’s win helped to bring the WWF to a new level of nationwide success.
If you have a few extra minutes, you can watch the match in full. The video catches the pre and post-match interviews. Even knowing how it ends, this remains one of the most electrifying matches in pro wrestling history. As he said in the tweet, Hulkamania will live forever.