On this day in Pro Wrestling history on July 4, 1993, the World Wrestling Federation hosted the famous ‘Stars and Stripes Challenge’, a special event aboard the U.S.S. Intrepid, where all kind of athletes from different sports tried to bodyslam WWF World Heavyweight Champion Yokozuna.
More than 1000 live fans wanted to see the evil Japanese (kayfabe, actually Samoan) Heel Champion get bodyslammed by an American athlete on Independence Day.
The tagline of the event was ‘Yokozuna vs The USA – Live! On the 4th of July’.
WWF Superstars Tatanka, Crush, Bob Backlund, Rick Steiner, Scott Steiner & ‘The Macho Man’ Randy Savage failed to lift and slam the big World Champion, but also several professionals from other sports like Bill Fralic (Detroit Lions / NFL), Peter Taglianetti (Pittsburgh Penguins / NHL), James Campen (Green Bay Packers / NFL), Joe Morris (formerly NY Giants / NFL), Gary Baldinger (Buffalo Bills / NFL), Scott Burell (Charlotte Hornets / NBA) & Keith Sims (Miami Dolphins / NFL) tried and couldn’t do it. Yokozuna was just too damn heavy for them.
Originally, Yokozuna had won the contest as no athlete was able to bodyslam him, but then a Helicopter landed on board of the U.S.S. Intrepid and out came Lex Luger, who was known as the self-regarding ‘Narcissist’ Lex Luger at that time.
What happened was that ‘The Immortal’ Hulk Hogan had already given his notice a few weeks earlier after losing the WWF World Title to Yokozuna at King of the Ring, and only agreed to do the upcoming Summer Tour in Europe and then finish up with the company to concentrate on his TV Show ‘Thunder In Paradise’, which left Vince McMahon without his larger than life All-American Hero & #1 draw.
In an attempt to create the next big thing, a new Hulk Hogan if you will, he booked Lex Luger to turn babyface that day by going to the ring and doing what no other wrestler or NFL/NHL/NBA athlete was able to do: Bodyslam Yokozuna!!!
At the end of the day, America’s pride was restored!
A new American Hero was born that day and what followed was the so called ‘Call To Action Campaign’, that had Luger tour the United States in his now-famous ‘Lex Express’.
Unfortunately, Luger’s entire gigantic push as a larger than life superhero and legitimate Hulk Hogan replacement didn’t last long, as the Lex Express’ last stop, The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan, saw Lex win his WWF SummerSlam 1993 main event against WWF Champion Yokozuna by count-out, thus failing to win the Title.
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