Today, January 23, is the 35th anniversary of the birth of Hulkamania, a date that changed the face of professional wrestling forever.
In November 1983, The Iron Sheik defeated Bob Backlund to win the WWF title after Backlund’s manager Arnold Skaaland threw in the towel when Backlund was locked into the camel clutch. Sheik ended Backlund’s reign of 783 days as champion but nobody predicted what was coming next.
On January 7, Hogan saved Backlund from an attack by The Wild Samoans, leading the way to becoming one of the biggest fan favorites of the company at the time. And then, on January 23 at Madison Square Garden, the wrestling world was in for a big change and the arrival of Hulkamania.
Hogan, who came out to the Eye of the Tiger song, became the first one to escape The Iron Sheik’s camel clutch, and a leg drop later there was a new sheriff in town. The match lasted just over five minutes. “History made at Madison Square Garden and the fans are on their feet,” screamed the late Gorilla Monsoon on commentary. “Hulkamania is here!”
In a post-match backstage segment, Hogan celebrated with Mean Gene Okerlund and Andre The Giant, who brought champagne with him. Ivan Putski and Rocky Johnson also joined in on the fun and showered both Hogan and Okerlund with champagne.
Hogan went on to carry the WWF title for 1,474 consecutive days. You can see the full match and post-match segment below.