30 year ago this week: Hogan wins the title, Hulkamania is born

It was 30 years ago this week that Hulk Hogan defeated the Iron Sheik for the WWF Heavyweight Title, ushering in Hulkamania in wrestling and setting the stage for Vince McMahon’s national expansion.

Hogan’s victory also planted the initial seeds of the first WrestleMania, although I’m not clear if McMahon had a supershow in mind at this point.

As I wrote earlier, the Sheik had shockingly defeated Bob Backlund for the belt on December 26, 1983, at Madison Square Garden. At the next monthly house show at the Garden on January 23, 1984, Hogan challenged for the title and won.

The shift in champions and power was shocking in ’84 because of how quickly it all happened. I remember in Boston growing up that we could get WWOR from New York on our cable, so I was aware that Hogan was fighting the Sheik at MSG. Given the circumstances, I suspected even as a youngster that Hogan was winning the belt. It sure doesn’t take long to figure out how wrestling works, which is part of its appeal I suppose.

During the match, Pat Patterson, who served as color commentator alongside Gorilla Monsoon, yelled a line I’ll never forget: “I’m so excited, I don’t want to talk. I want to watch the match!”


The fans at MSG exploded when Hogan pinned the Sheik with his legdrop. It was a changing of the guard that didn’t happen very often those days in the WWF. Hogan went on to hold the belt for a little more than four years before he lost it to Andre the Giant in one of the most watched wrestling matches in history.

If you’ve never seen Hogan’s first WWF championship win, it’s a short, exciting match that still get me going when I watch it. It will be interesting to see if Hogan gets one more chance on the big stage in 2014 at WrestleMania XXX in New Orleans, as rumors are swirling that the Hulk is gunning for a retirement match.


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  3. Joe Lowry

    Lets not forget the post match interview Hogan had with Mean Gene Okerlund backstage. This was great stuff back then. Who cannot forget Andre the Giant pouring champagne all over Hogan? Andre actually blinded Hogan with all of the champagne he poured all over him. Andre said to Hogan “I am proud of you” and then Hogan saying “thanks boss.” Obviously we all know Andre was known backstage as “The Boss.” So this was a break of character so to speak..And then Ivan Putski and Rocky Johnson joining in on the fun as well. “Im proud of you Jack” Putski said.

    • at1212b

      Yea, and Andre before his big back 86 surgery looked absolutely huge, just towering over Hulk. And you could tell Hulk was surprised, and to me, a little scared/shocked Andre came to him like that in such a warm way. I think that’s why “The Boss” line came out with great humility and out of character, since Hogan wasn’t in the WWF long at that point since re-joining, and during his previous WWWF run, Andre used to ‘bounce beer cans’ off Hulk’s head, and made Hogan ‘throw-up’ in fear before every match.

      My as a kid, I didn’t see this until a bit later when the coliseum video “Hulkamania” video came out and I moved near a rental store. I always found it fascinating, seeing earlier stuff, how the ropes and sometimes ring looked so different, lighting, etc compared to the current stuff that was on during the time I first saw it (87 I believe). As mentioned, things were so disjointed, time lag, no youtube, etc, just snippets from magazines, that it really felt like a different, fascinating world when seeing any sort of new stuff.

  4. Joe Lowry

    Wow, has it really been 30 years since Hulkamania stormed into the WWF(E)? Time certainly does fly by. Of course who cannot forget that yet another Saturday morning of All Star Wrestling was abuzz with yet another new WWF Champion. I remember vividly that we were all just succumbing to the fact that The Iroin Sheik was wearing the green strap in which he won less than a month before. Back in the day before Facebook, Twitter and all other forms of social media, it took wrestling magazines a month to catch up to the fact that Backlund lost his title to The Iron Sheik and then Sheik losing it to Hogan. If memory serves me right, the only wrestling publication to publish The Iron Sheik as the WWF champ was “Wrestlings Main Event.” All of the other wrestling publications came out later and listed Hogan as the champ. Of course this all coincided with all of these publications deciding months earlier to disband the WWF Title with World Champion status. But that is a different story for another time. My best moment in the Hogan win over the Iron Sheik? It had to be when the referee made the three count and the thunderous roar from the crowd. The “pop” that Hogan got when the ref’s hand hit the canvas for the 3 count actually made the microphones around ringside static. I am sure the sound technician (if they had one in attendance) did not expect that. Another memorable moment is Pat Patterson coming out of character for a moment in saying “The fans are going wild and I am so excited, I dont wanna talk I just wanna watch the match!’ Great Stuff!!!

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