The trope of a brave American protecting his country from evil foreigners inside a wrestling ring may be as old as the business itself. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if our pal Karl Stern dug up stories of Abe Lincoln hitting a stove pipe driver on someone named Sombrero Sam during the Mexican-American war in the hopes a wrestling promoter could make a buck.
Sometimes these storylines mean big business. If they didn’t, you wouldn’t see them recycled every few years. Probably the most famous of these during most of our lifetimes was when the evil Mr. Fuji was guiding the career of the gargantuan Yokozuna, mocking the USA and explaining that not only could no one beat the man who was at the time WWF champion, no one could even pick him up and body slam him. A challenge was set forth for July 4 aboard the USS Intrepid to see if anyone could in fact lift the big guy up…
…and as we all know Lex Luger emerged from a helicopter to become the WWF’s top babyface for the summer of 1993. As anyone who was around at the time could tell you, this didn’t even particularly well for Lex as he failed to win the title at SummerSlam that year and essentially killed all his momentum. The idea was to build to Luger winning the belt at WrestleMania, but fans had given up on the guy by that point and Vince changed his focus to Bret Hart.
But that day on the Intrepid, Luger was the pride of America.
To be honest though, he didn’t have a whole lot of competition.
So we are aboard the big boat, and here we have the dastardly Fuji and his charge. Say what you will about the rest of the event, but this is a pretty stinking cool setting for a wrestling event. That’s something that is woefully missing these days in the business: unique sets and locations. Gotta believe that’s why so many of us were geeking out over that AEW show on the cruise ship earlier this year. It just looked so different.
As noted, this was a solitary challenge. Could anyone – ANYONE! – pick up and slam Yokozuna. But it wasn’t just going to be pro wrestlers, no no no. Sports stars from around the country were lined up to uphold the honor of our country.
In fact, Todd Pettengill and Randy Savage introduce us to our very first contestant who isn’t a WWF superstar at all – he’s a running back for the New York Giants, Lee Rouson. The crowd politely cheers his entrance, no doubt wondering…could this great athlete be the man to restore glory to our nation?
Well, no. He gives what I wouldn’t even call a half-hearted attempt and gives up.
Despite doing almost literally NOTHING, Macho gives him a giant hug and parades him around the ring like he’d just done our country a great service.
I’ve got a bad feeling we could be seeing a lot of you this week, kid.
But hey, Rouson wasn’t the greatest NY Giant running back ever. No, according to Todd, that distinction would go to number 22 – Joe Morris!
Sweet Christmas, I hope he tried a bit harder on the football field than he did here. I mean, I get that he’s likely not going to be able to get the guy up…but can you at least act like you’re giving it some kinda effort?
Maybe these football players just aren’t what we need. Perhaps we need someone from the arguably more rough and tumble world of professional HOCKEY. So from the Philadelphia Flyers, let’s welcome Shawn Cronin!
“I’m gonna give it my best shot!” Shawn tells us.
By now, I know what you are thinking – these football and hockey players ve zero idea what they are doing. No, what we really need is someone who has a history in the wrestling business, someone who would thus know who Yoko was and thus be able to use some strategy. Who better than the man who held the company’s top title for SIX YEARS, Bob Backlund?
Prior to his attempt, Macho gets a few words from a very boring pre-Mr. Backlund Bob. He notes his love for NCAA wrestling, almost more than the WWF, prompting Savage to tell him, “Let’s split the difference and do it for the USA!”
Were you seriously expecting anything else?
At this point, football and hockey players, along with pro wrestlers, have all brought our country great shame. Time to start thinking outside the box!
How about a JOCKEY, namely Julio Pezua?
“He’s 110 pounds of red white and blue!” Todd screams of the man wearing a forest green outfit.
He naturally fails miserably, but gets the first real offense of the day in by hitting Yoko in the butt with a riding crop. This causes Todd to laugh so heartily that I wouldn’t be surprised to learn he had suffered some mental damage.
Back to football we go, but at least this time we may have some hope as we leave the backfield and go to an offensive lineman. For those unfamiliar with the sport, they are much larger and attempt to protect the quarterback and open up holes for the running backs to go through. Will Keith Simms of the Miami Dolphins fare any better?
What do you think?
Pittsburgh Penguin Peter Taglianetti is next on deck. According to Todd, he’s won TWO Stanley Cups, so he must be good!
He of course also fails, but does win the “HAIRIEST ARMPIT” award.
I’m not going to lie – this is getting wildly depressing. All of these so-called great “athletes” look like a bunch of geeks. Is there anyone – ANYONE – on this God forsaken boat manly enough to bring glory to our country again?
HOLY CRAP – it’s Scott Steiner!
Smiling and giving us a BIG THUMBS UP!
I had legit forgotten he was in the company at this time. While he wasn’t the amazing chainmail wearing monster yet, if anyone is going to make us at least not look like the biggest losers since the Bad News Bears, it would be Scotty!
So he comes to the ring, high fiving fans with a giant smile on his face. Todd grabs him before his attempt to get some words. Steiner: “Yokozuna’s a big man. I’m just going to try to do my best.”
What that it were this would have taken place 10 years later. I am guessing the interview would have gone something like this:
Instead, we got mumble mouth and this:
Well, at least he slapped him across the face and TRIED.
At this point, even utter failure like that causes Savage to get excited, screaming, “You went right at him. Real cool!”
Was it really?
How low of a bar are we setting for our country?
You know what sport we haven’t seen represented yet? BASKETBALL! Because when you think “who are the STRONGEST people around?”, you naturally think guys who are training to run up and down a court nonstop for 60 minutes.
So we get Scott Brown of the Charlotte Hornets. His pre-attempt promo is, and I quote, “He’s bigger than I thought.”
He looks Yoko up and down…
…then turns and walks out of the ring as the crowd BOOS him.
Savage: “That’s alright – he’s my friend!”
Your COWARDLY friend.
You’d think it couldn’t get any worse, but amazingly, it does.
Next up we get Dolphins running back Mark Higgs, who springboards into the ring, and the crowd reacts like he’d just done a 1080 degree shooting star press. Let’s face it – that is the biggest high spot so far today and this crowd has to be desperate for something, anything, to cheer.
He tells Todd he’s going to go low, so he scrunches down, goes for the body slam…
…and then immediately falls on his backside.
I’ll say this – if the goal is to make the crow think everyone on the boat save for Luger is a total idiot, mission accomplished.
At this point, Yoko gets so bored he decides to have a snack. Really. Some geek from the back brings out a Jethro bowl as Yoko chows down.
Savage: “The red white and blue is hungry, dig it?”
It’s Macho Man – let’s face it, 90% of the time, none of us had any idea what he was talking about.
Bufflo Bill Gary Balldinger is out next, wearing a Foot Locker tank top. In 2020, you’d think he had some sort of licensing deal. 1993? Guessing he ran to the mall that morning and told them, “find me something to wear, don’t care what it is, just make it cheap.”
He insults Yoko, telling him the buffet line is closing in five minutes. He then gives us this Herculean effort:
I…I don’t even know what to say to that.
Not sure what’s more laughable – his attempt, or his arms flailing around like a sissy afterwards.
By this point, I won’t lie, I was happy to see this man:
He cuts a fiery promo as I began thinking…if anyone could restore glory to our once great country, wouldn’t it be fitting it would be a NATIVE American?
No sooner did those thoughts cross my mind that he sucker punches Yoko and runs to the top rope…
…only to kicked right in the mush.
A quick pan of the crowd finds someone who expresses my feelings exactly:
You said it, my Michael Jackson jacket wearing hero!
I’m guessing we’ll be seeing more of you around these parts!
New York Giant George Martin is next, but he is confused. You see, he thought he was going to be fighting…wait for it…YOKO ONO!
Apparently that was an attempt at comedy. You can imagine Todd’s reaction.
So he says he has a secret weapon, which winds up being money…in this case, a FIVE DOLLAR BILL. Was he trying to bribe Yokozuna to slam himself?
At this point, Macho gets bored and goes out and starts honking the horn on some truck that was being given away as a prize or something. In case you hadn’t noticed, this was all going way, WAY too long and going off the rails.
So we get NY Giant turned sportscaster Billy Taylor, who goes to shake Yoko’s hand. He gives his foe a millisecond to return the gesture before turning tail and chickening out of the ring.
I thought we were supposed to be honoring America? So far I’ve seen folks sucker punch, bribe, and just plain run away.
But just as I am about to start packing and head to Canada, a hero from the past shows up:
BILL FREAKING FRALIC!
Yes, the legendary Detroit Lion showed up, gives a three second interview, then heads right into battle. And unlike others…
…Fralic TRIES and gets Yoko off the ground as the crowd absolutely loses their minds. Best showing so far BY FAR. No wonder Blade loves him so much.
Just when I was thinking, “Yeah, America’s not so bad”, we are introduced to our next competitor, WR Joey Smith…
…who comes out dancing and prancing. He wiggles a lot before failing miserably.
No wonder every other country on the planet hates us so much.
“Nice try!” consoles Savage.
NO IT WASN’T!!!
For some reason, Gomez Addams is out next.
Wait…that’s Rick Steiner????
Seriously, he looks like a completely different person without his headgear. Like if I just cropped his head, would YOU be able to tell who that was?
It’s not just me right?
So Steiner goes right at Yoko, attempting a belly to belly suplex. Which, last I checked, is decidedly NOT a body slam.
Savage: “I love that thought process! We Americans can think!”
I knew you’d be back!
More football players fail miserably, including Packer Jim Campton…
…and Dolphins WR Jim Jansen, who moonwalks, then gives the worst attempt in the last 30 seconds. Even Todd looks baffled in the background.
For whatever reason, a WE WANT CRUSH chant breaks out. And sure enough, here he is!
Since when did this company give fans what they wanted?
The big guy in his amazingly early 90s neon gear pumps up the crowd, then gives it the old Kona try…
…getting him up before his back gives out. The fans go crazy and want ONE MORE TIME.
But the company won’t allow that.
Now THAT’s the WWF I know and hate!
It looks as if all hope is lost, but Todd says there’s one more person who wants to try – Randy Savage. Macho responds by telling us that’s not true, then immediately says (like in the exact same sentence!) he’s going to try RIGHT NOW!
He hands off his glasses to Todd…and well, yeah, you know the rest…
…he tries, and does so poorly his hat falls off.
So now we get to the point everyone remembers…but let’s really dig into this a bit. Todd starts shutting things down and then of course the helicopter shows up. The fans are so excited they start chanting.
For HULK HOGAN.
Then Todd says, no, it’s Lex Luger!
Then the fans start BOOING.
EGADS, I did NOT remember that. They had to have edited that off on the original broadcast.
So Luger gets out of the helicopter and makes his way to the ring, and he won’t even shake hands with people wildly waving at him.
Even SCOTT STEINER did that!
I mean, really look at that GIF – does that look like a HERO to you?
So Savage and Todd beg for the crowd to cheer for him…and they finally start to a bit.
We get the big bodyslam, and now…NOW the crowd goes wild as Luger celebrates as though he’s having a seizure.
The Seiners lift him on their shoulders (those WCW boys gotta stick together) as we meet our new American hero.
Again, though, we’re grading on a curve. I mean, after this…
…I’d hope Luger would be cheered. He’s the best of an incredibly sorry bunch.
USA USA I guess?