It was the "bodyslam heard round the world."

The year was 1993, and Vince McMahon was scrambling. Hulk Hogan had recently departed the WWF for rival WCW, and McMahon needed a hero. Wrestling companies are only as good as their larger-than-life money draw characters, and McMahon had handpicked a new person for that role: Lex Luger.

An event took place on July 4, 1993, during the WWF's (now WWE) "Stars and Stripes Challenge" on the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier in New York City. The event was promoted as a test of American strength and patriotism, coinciding with traditional U.S. Independence Day celebrations.

Yokozuna, portrayed as a dominant sumo wrestler character, was the reigning WWF World Heavyweight Champion at the time. The challenge was for any American wrestler to bodyslam him, an impressive feat considering Yokozuna's size and weight, billed as "550 pounds."

WWE via YouTube
WWE via YouTube

The heavily muscled Luger, who up to then portrayed a "bad guy" character himself, entered in grand fashion by helicopter to answer the challenge.

With the crowd rallying behind him, Luger successfully bodyslammed Yokozuna, which was being heralded as "impossible." During their programming, the WWF heavily touted it as a symbol of American strength and resilience.

Luger's achievement was widely celebrated by fans and played a role in building Luger's new character as a patriotic hero, positioning him as a top contender for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship.


Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum via Facebook
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum via Facebook

The USS Intrepid is a historic aircraft carrier that served in the United States Navy during World War II. The ship later served as a recovery vessel for NASA during the Mercury and Gemini space missions. Today, the USS Intrepid serves as a Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City.

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