The WWWF Championship became the WWF Championship in 1979, for marketing purposes. It would remain as such until May 2002, when the then-WWF was forced to change their name to WWE.
In June 1982, Vince McMahon Jr purchased the Capitol Wrestling Corporation (the parent company of the WWWF) from his father, Vince McMahon Sr. (They're not technically Junior and Senior, as they have different middle names, but calling them that makes things a lot easier).
McMahon Sr, was 68 years old at the time and accepted it was time to step down and hand over the reigns to his ambitious 36 year old son, who incorporated the WWWF into his parent company, Titan Sports. McMahon Sr would sadly pass away just two years later.
McMahon Jr had a very different vision for what WWE could be than that of his father. While McMahon Sr, despite his differences with the NWA, had largely respected regional boundaries, McMahon Jr saw the future of wrestling as cable television and sought to make the WWF the first truly national wrestling promotion.
When McMahon Jr took over the company, the clean cut babyface champion, Bob Backlund reigned as champion. The goody two shoes character was a hit at the box office, but was not a suitable figurehead for a national or international organization.
Backlund also lacked charisma and personality, two intangibles that McMahon Jr viewed as essential for his World Champion.
Therefore in late 1983, he made a call to Hulk Hogan.
Hogan was no stranger to the WWF, having worked for the company as a heel in 1979. In-between he had starred in the movie Rocky III. He worked for Verne Gagne's AWA promotion while also touring New Japan Pro Wrestling with Gagne's blessing.
The AWA paid Hogan handsomely for a limited schedule which offered him flexibility when he wished. Therefore McMahon Jr had to make him an offer he couldn't refuse. That offer was the WWE Championship in his first return match for the company.
McMahon Jr not only purchased Hogan, he lured backstage interviewer, Gene Okerlund from the AWA as well, signalling the death knell for that promotion.
Hogan was installed as WWE Champion in January 1984 and the rest as they say is history.
In the second part of my series, part 1 can be found here, I will cover the reigns of Superstar Billy Graham through to Macho Man Randy Savage.