Where Wrestling's Regional History Lives!
- Bill Camp
This month I said I would talk about birth of
Hulkamania. But looking
back on it today, it seems more like talking about the death of
professional wrestling than the birth of anything.
Let me start by saying that I was only ten years old when Hulk
Hogan won his first World Heavyweight Title in the World Wrestling
Federation. I had only been
watching wrestling for about a year or two when the event happened.
However, even at that early age when I witnessed the huge
expansion and WrestleManias that followed, I knew something in this
sport was dying. No longer
did the TV shows have that smoke-filled atmosphere provided by that
small arena in Allentown, PA. The
live events, even at the small spot shows like the ones I attended in
Erie, PA, began undergoing changes too.
The product was suddenly filled with all the glitz and glamour of
a Hollywood major production. It just didnít seem like the kind of place a man would go
to see two people battle it out for a victory and be able to cheer his
heroes and yell at the grapplers he hated.
Even today, I continue to watch just waiting for those few
moments when some glimmer of the past wrestling style will seep through,
and it happens less and less with every episode of Raw.
Thatís why I prefer to call January 23, 1984, the day the music
died in professional wrestling, instead of the birth of Hulkamania.
I guess thatís enough with the sappy monologue, letís get
down to what really happened when Hogan took the title.
The story really starts over in the AWA where Hogan, after
receiving national recognition in the movie Rocky III, was refused the
AWA World Heavyweight Title. To
say Verne Gagne dropped the ball with this one would be the biggest
understatement since Custer said, ďAre those Indians over there?Ē
So Iím watching All Star Wrestling one Saturday afternoon on
WICU TV 12 in Erie in mid December 1983, and the Iron Sheik was
scheduled. To open the
program, they said nothing of the title switch to my recollection, but
the Sheik comes out for the opening match and heís wearing Bob
Backlundís World Heavyweight Title!
I was astounded. Donít
get me wrong, the Sheik was a great wrestler, but even then I could have
named about a half dozen wresters who could beat him for the belt.
During the match, Vince McMahon, Jr., who by the way, took over complete ownership of the promotion after his father passed away a year earlier, relayed what happened on commentary.More...