The Iron Sheik holds Hulk Hogan in his infamous Camel Clutch during the WWE Championship bout.

When did Hulk Hogan win the WWE Championship from the Iron Sheik?

Why are football fans talking about Hulk Hogan, of all people, today?

Today's FIFA World Cup match between the United States and Iran has stirred up memories of another major conflict between the two nations. No, not the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. We're talking about the birth of Hulkamania, brother!

The Iron Sheik vs Hulk Hogan

When Iranian superstar (and Twitter sensation) The Iron Sheik defeated Bob Backlund for the WWE Championship (December 26, 1983), the hostage crisis (which ended in 1981) was still heavy on the minds of the American public. Wrestling fans were champing at the bit to see someone step up and bring the title back to the good ole' US of A.

Hogan recently returned to WWE following an explosive, but ultimately unsatisfying, run in the American Wrestling Association. Vince McMahon, who had recently purchased the company from his father, intended to make Hulk the face of it as he took it nationwide.


What better way to get the fans on his side than by having him defeat the representative of one of America's biggest rivals?


Hulk Hogan steps up for the USA

On January 23rd, 1984, Hulk Hogan was named as the replacement for an injured Backlund in a title bout against The Sheik. It was held at Madison Square Garden in New York City and is considered one of the most iconic moments in pro wrestling history.

Throughout his first run in WWE - which saw him hold the championship on five different occasions - Hulk Hogan made patriotism an integral part of his character. This was especially apparent during the first Iraq War, when the WWE Championship was held by Sgt. Slaughter - portraying at the time an Iraqi sympathizer.


Losing the championship didn't seem to hinder the Iron Sheik, however. A year later, at the very first WrestleMania, Sheik and Nikolai Volkov of the USSR would defeat the US Express (Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham) for the WWE Tag Team Championship.

He would rightfully be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005 - the same year as his legendary rival, Hulk Hogan.

Do you remember the Hogan/Sheik match from 1984? Share your memories in the comments section below.

Edited by
Ken Cameron
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