The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Collections: Andre the Giant (part 2)
Continuing on with more Andre, we pick things up again in 1982 Mid-South.
Andre the Giant, Junkyard Dog & Mil Mascaras v. Gino Hernandez, Killer Khan & Tully Blanchard (10.30.82)
Now that is quite the six-man. I should note that whoever did the description for the Network has this listed as “Hercules Hernandez”, which is a drastically different thing from Gino. This is a clip from Houston and the video is bathed in purple for whatever reason. The heels all go after the ankle, his literal Achilles heel as Bill Watts notes. They work it over for a couple of minutes but of course Mil Mascaras comes in during a melee and gets the pin at 3:00. Nothing to this one. 0 for 1.
The Size of a Giant
This is also from Mid-South and was previously on the Hidden Gems collection, where Bill Watts compares the size of his boots and coat to Andre’s. Bill’s still a pretty big guy, actually.
From the AWA in late 82, as Mean Gene interviews young Hulk Hogan about his war with the Heenan Family and Hulk calls in the “heavy artillery” in the form of Andre the Giant. This sets up a battle royal with most of the big names of the time (Hogan, Andre, the High Flyers, Blackwell, Heenan, Martel, Adonis, Patera, Bockwinkel, Von Raschke, and a bunch of scrubs). Winner gets $50,000, or least that I assume that’s what Verne promised and then changed his mind. It’s a small ring so it’s tough to follow much in the sea of wrestlers. Andre throws out Ray Stevens but otherwise there’s just a lot of guys falling to the apron and then rolling back in over and over. Poor Rene Goulet goes out on a stretcher and ring announcer Mean Gene is like “Sgt. Goulet goes out on a stretcher. Very dangerous match!” Finally the herd is thinned out to a more manageable number of guys so the commentator can actually follow what’s going on. Bockwinkel throwing out Martel highlights the bizarre physics of wrestling, where you can grab someone by the back of the neck and compel them to run and jump over the top rope. Things get thinned out to Hogan, Andre and the High Flyers against Heenan and his various heel cronies. Then it’s down to Hogan & Andre v. The Heenan Family and to say the crowd is behind Hogan would be a gross understatement. Andre clobbers Blackwell and El-Kaissie out by himself and then goes after the Heenan crew, booting out Duncam and then compelling Bobby to fling himself out of the ring in terror in a hilarious spot. Andre eliminates himself to continue chasing Bobby, leaving Hulk alone with Bockwinkel and Patera, and Hulk makes a comeback that has the arena almost literally shaking, before tossing them both out for the win at 19:52. The Family goes for the beatdown afterwards, and Andre destroys them all. The ending to that was pretty great and this Hogan kid really has something. 1 for 2.
AWA World title: Nick Bockwinkel v. Andre the Giant
Still in the AWA in 1982, at a show in Winnipeg, and even super-confident Bockwinkel is second-guessing this one. The commentator, Larry Matysik, notes that Bockwinkel had just regained the title from Otto Wanz in Chicago, so at least this one is easy to verify the timeframe. Andre immediately chases Bockwinkel to the floor and then grabs a standing chinlock on the way into the ring, and Bockwinkel runs away again. Back in, Andre grabs the head again and gets a suplex this time, but misses a headbutt. Bockwinkel hits him in the head with a running knee, but walks into a bearhug. Bockwinkel uses a cheapshot to escape, so Andre gives him an annoyed glare and headbutts him into the corner. Bockwinkel tries to throw chops, so Andre just unloads on him and Nick goes flying out of the ring. Back in, Bockwinkel grabs a headlock and tries to take him down, and that goes about as well as you’d expect, with Bockwinkel getting thrown off and running into Andre’s ass. Finally Nick gets a knee into the back of Andre to slow him down, and he goes to work on that. He tries a figure-four for some reason, and Andre kicks him off and out of the ring. Back in, Bockwinkel goes back to the back again and then puts him in a sleeper on the mat. Hey, it worked for Inigo Montoya! Andre fights out, so Nick hits him in the back again to put him down and then goes back to the sleeper. Finally Andre fights out for good and pounds on Bockwinkel in the corner, but he’s still shaken up. So instead he gets revenge by literally tying Bockwinkel’s head in the ropes and choking him down that way, and then makes the comeback with a backdrop, but misses a blind charge and runs into the post. Bockwinkel works him over in the corner while Bobby grabs Andre’s leg, so referee Larry Hennig calls the DQ at 17:00 and then beats up Bockwinkel himself while Andre takes care of Heenan. A legit great match thanks to Bockwinkel knowing exactly how to play to Andre’s strength. 2 for 3.
Who’s Slamming Who? (06.10.82)
So we’re off to World Class now, with a body slam challenge at the Fritz Von Erich retirement show at Texas Stadium. Eliminations come via body slam and the whole thing comes down to Andre and Bugsy McGraw after 3 minutes of nothing. Bugsy tries and fails to get Andre up a few times and then Andre casually slams him to win at 5:58. 2 for 4.
“Fight to the Finish” – King Kong Bundy v. Kerry Von Erich v. Wild Bill Irwin v. Terry Gordy v. Bugsy McGraw v. Andre the Giant
More World Class from early 83. This is more like a mini-battle royal, with eliminations coming via over-the-top. Kerry is still a little bit salty at Terry Gordy over the whole cage door thing, and he immediately gets tossed out but keeps attacking the Freebirds anyway. Bugsy gets thrown out by the heels, leaving Andre alone with Gordy, Irwin and Bundy, and Andre throttles Gordy on the mat while the others beat on him to break him free. Andre casually throws the other two heels off and goes back to choking out the treacherous Gordy on behalf of Kerry and he’s not even trying to win. Finally all three of them manage to get Andre down…for about 3 seconds, and Andre just shakes them loose and goes back to trying to murder Terry Gordy. All three again team up and Irwin pounds away on Andre while the other two hold his arms, and you know this isn’t gonna end up well for anyone. Irwin is finally like “Oh yeah, I got this!” and makes one big charge, and of course at that point Andre has had enough of his shit and tosses him out. Andre then eliminates himself to chase Michael Hayes away, leaving Gordy and Bundy, and Bundy misses the Avalanche to give Gordy the win at 13:10. Really entertaining match. 3 for 5.
A Natural Attraction
Back to the WWF in 1983, as Andre is the guest on “Buddy Rogers’ Corner” and Buddy highlights a bunch of trophies from various promoters in the world listing his accomplishments.
Cage match: Andre the Giant v. Big John Studd
This is from Philly in 84, and I’m not sure I’ve seen this one before but it’s probably the one from “Inside the Steel Cage”. Unfortunately we’re now at the point where Andre’s body completely fell apart on him, even as wrestling was exploding. Studd attacks to start and Andre fights him off and runs him into the cage a few times and Studd is busted open. Studd slugs back on him and calls for the door, but Andre trips him up and keeps him in the ring. Studd sends him into the cage and goes for the door again, but Andre grabs the leg. Studd chokes him down on the mat, but Andre puts him down again and drops a leg on the back of his neck, then slams Studd and goes up with a flying buttdrop off the top and walks out at 9:55. Yeah, that’s pretty definitive. 4 for 6 just for the finish.
$10,000 Body Slam Challenge: Big John Studd v. Andre the Giant
And this is of course from the first Wrestlemania, as Andre slams Studd in a terrible match. 4 for 7.
Andre the Giant v. Rowdy Roddy Piper
This is set up by a Piper’s Pit where Piper mouths off to Andre repeatedly and brags that he could slam Andre himself given 5:00, so Andre calls him on his bullshit and we get the match at the Spectrum. That Piper’s Pit gives us the classic “You do not throw rocks at a man with a machine gun” line from Piper, by the way. Andre rips Piper’s gear off and beats him with his own belt, as Piper retreats and yells at the fans for a while. Piper yells at Andre from behind the post, so Andre grabs his arms and pulls, giving us a classic Piper terrified reaction shot. Finally Piper uses the wrist tape and chokes Andre, so Andre just grabs the tape and does it right back. Talk about throwing rocks at a man with a machine gun. Piper finally gets some shots in the corner , but that just angers Andre even more and he whips Piper out of the ring, at which point Roddy decides to fight another day and wisely walks out at 4:49. Tremendous stuff, with Piper opening his mouth one time too many and paying the price. 5 for 7.
And we’ll wrap it up there for today, before we move into the Hulkamania era next time! This continues to be a great collection of unseen stuff and matches I’ve never even heard about before.