Celebrating July 4th and the 20th Anniversary of Lex Luger BodySlamming Yokozuna
On this, the 237th birthday of the good ol' U S of A, we turn our attention to Mount Rushmore, not so much in a literal sense, but in a metaphorical sense. These days, the term "Mount Rushmore" isn't used so much to refer to the actual South Dakota monument celebrating Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt, as it is to provide a cute way to name the top four things or people that epitomize some category of pop culture.
To that end, on our nation's birthday, we blow out the candles and celebrate the Mount Rushmore of protectors of our borders from enemies foreign and, in at least one case, hefty:
Washington, Patton, Schwarzkopf, Luger.
Yes, Luger. Lex Luger.
WWE fans will remember this, but allow me to take you back to July 4, 1993. Twenty years ago today.
The WWF (as it was called back then) was going through a bit of an odd time, an identity crisis of sorts, brought on by the then recent departure of Hulk Hogan, who had just lost the WWF Heavyweight Title to the 500-pound sumo master Yokozuna (managed by the devious Mr. Fuji) at the King of the Ring a few weeks earlier (June 13, 1993, to be exact) in one of the stranger, lamer endings to a title win:
Of course, this ending wasn't half as lame as the way in which Hogan won the title to begin with at Wrestlemania IX:
But I digress.
So, preying on the most xenophobic, warped corners of the WWF universe, onward trudged the company with a Samoan disguised as a Japanese sumo wrestler ready to spend the summer of 1993 tearing the ass out of a mediocre, at best, babyface roster. With Hogan gone, the top babyface in the company on the morning of July 4 was probably Bret Hart, and then the drop-off was fairly precipitous to the likes of Mr. Perfect, Crush and Hacksaw Jim Duggan.
So the chance to embarrass the WWF "good guys" was ripe, but Fuji and Yoko didn't want to stop there. Oh, no, my friends. They saw the babyface roster in the WWF as a mere microcosm of the weakness of America as a whole, and they decided to partner up with the rotund Yokozuna's greatest ally, gravity, and make the following very public challenge:
On our nation's birthday, July 4, 1993, Yokozuna challenged any and every American athlete to attempt to bodyslam him. And not just anywhere, but right there in New York City on the deck of the USS Intrepid...
And so it was; the Stars and Stripes Challenge was upon us. We were a nation under siege!
So we rewind to July 4, 1993, on a balmy Sunday afternoon, and here's what took place:
Time for some very patriotic Zapruder analysis...