The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Collections – Andre the Giant (part 3)
Rolling on as we get into the Hulkamania era and Andre’s body really starts to fall apart…
Cage match: Andre the Giant v. Kamala
The finish of this one is on the “Inside the Steel Cage” video, but this is the full match from Toronto in October of 1984. I can’t imagine the full match being any good, but that’s what the Network is for! Andre is literally as tall as the cage, which is crazy. Andre immediately goes after Kamala and sits on him a few times, but Kamala gets a foreign object from Friday and goes to work on Andre. This merely annoys Andre and he beats on Kamala against the cage, which has Kamala running for the door. That doesn’t work, so Kamala tries to climb instead, and Andre hauls him back in. Kamala takes over with chops and a pair of splashes, but he doesn’t understand the concept of escaping the cage and goes for a pin instead. Kamala is CHOPPING and CHOPPING and CHOPPING (to quote Bryan and Filthy Tom) and somehow Andre is bleeding from those. Andre comes back and pounds on Kamala in the corner, but Kamala runs him into the cage and goes for the door. They fight by the door and Kamala is CHOPPING and CHOPPING and CHOPPING, but Andre keeps holding the foot and preventing his escape. They choke each other down and Andre wins that battle and makes the comeback. Andre with his own chops, and he slams Kamala and goes up to finish him off with the flying ass, then walks out at 13:46. The finish couldn’t overcome the boredom of the match. 0 for 1.
Horse of a Different Color
Andre appears on Blackjack Mulligan’s interview segment, having lost another of Mulligan’s horses due to exhaustion. Just a quick segment.
Big Man, Big Personality
From Tuesday Night Titans, Andre is interviewed by Vince and shows off his giant boots, covers Alfred’s face with one hand, and then sings The Fish Song with the house reggae band. A very charming segment. 1 for 2.
Wrestler/Football player Battle Royale:
Jimbo Covert, Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Harvey Martin, Dan Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, King Tonga, The Iron Sheik, Ernie Holmes, B. Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, Big John Studd, Bill Fralic, Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, Russ Francis, Bruno Sammartino, William “Refrigerator” Perry and Andre the Giant are the entrants. William Perry is in the WWE Hall of Fame, so he’s gotta be good, right? I mean, they don’t just let ANYONE in. Tonga and a football player are the first out, and it’s just a big mass of guys milling around. Everyone gangs up on Brunzell for some reason and dumps him, and Bruno dumps Tony Atlas. Brian Blair and Iron Sheik slug it out in the corner and I’m praying that Sheik eliminates him so I can go for the obvious joke. Sadly, Ted Arcidi breaks it up and gets sent out by another roving gang as a result. Sheik backdrops Spivey out and then, YES, HE HUMBLES B. BRIAN BLAIR!!! I have to take my entertainment where I can get it. Having fulfilled my petty, petty entertainment needs, Bruno disposes of Sheik. More people go out and Fridge has a showdown with Studd and goes out as a result, but then he does the Hulk Hogan move and pulls Studd out. That was a Hall of Fame level double-cross. So we’ve got Andre, Russ Francis and the Hart Foundation, and really the odds weren’t good when it was 19 guys against Andre. The Harts dispose of Francis and work Andre over, but Bret walks into a big boot and Andre has had enough. Bing bang bong and Andre wins at 9:04. 1 for 3.
A Two-Headed Beast
From Primetime Wrestling, as we get the recap of the amazing Piper’s Pit angle where Jesse Ventura reveals his theory that Andre is now aligned with Bobby Heenan. So the next week, Piper produces Hogan and Ventura produces Andre, and we get the amazing heel turn where Andre calmly challenges Hulk to the main event of Wrestlemania III and tears the cross off his neck. Man, the kids in school were going SOOOOO nuts for this the next day. 2 for 4.
And of course…
WWF World title: Hulk Hogan v. Andre The Giant
Staredown to start and Hogan goes for the slam, but Andre falls on top for two. Hogan immediately starts selling the back like death and Andre pounds on him and slams him. Andre whips him into the corner, barely mobile at this point in his career, and slowly headbutts the back before missing a headbutt. Hogan slugs away, but can’t knock him down, and makes the mistake of charging, which allows Andre to get a boot up and then go to the BEARHUG OF DOOM. That goes on for a while until Hogan slugs out of it, but still can’t knock Andre down. Andre puts him down with a boot and another one puts Hogan on the floor and they slowly brawl. Andre headbutts the post and sportsman Hulk pulls up the mats and tries to piledrive his longtime friend on the concrete (Just because he asked for a title shot after 3 years!) but Andre reverses out of it. Back in, Hogan finally knocks him down and hulks up, and it’s slam bam thank you ma’am at 11:58. History-wise, it was huge, but as a match it was slow and dull and just generally awful. The bearhug spot in particular sucked all the life out of the match. 2 for 5.
Hulk Hogan, Bam Bam Bigelow, Don Muraco, Paul Orndorff & Ken Patera v. Andre The Giant, One Man Gang, King Kong Bundy, Butch Reed & Rick Rude.
Muraco starts with Rude and they slug it out, which leads to Rude getting double-teamed in the face corner. Orndorff comes in and gets a kneelift, and it’s over to Hogan for the clothesline and elbows. Bam Bam adds a running splash and a press slam, and Patera comes in, which allows Rude to tag Reed in. Patera cradles for two and Muraco adds a dropkick, as does Orndorff. Reed misses a blind charge and Hogan drops the leg at 3:03. Now that’s a dominating performance. So Andre is in and Hogan conveniently tags out to Patera, then whines about it for 15 minutes. If you’re so hot for Andre, why not just tag back in again? Patera pounds on Bundy instead of Andre, and puts him down with a clothesline, but Gang comes in and gets into a slugfest with Orndorff. Paul runs into a knee, however, and Rude hammers him with forearms. Orndorff comes back with a clothesline and the Boogie Woogie Elbow for two, and it’s over to Muraco for a clubbing clothesline. Rude uses the old thumb to the eye and brings the Gang in, but he misses a splash in the corner and Muraco tags Patera. Patera with a nice bodypress for two and hits a high knee in the corner, but Gang goes to the eyes and Patera gets stuck in the heel corner. Gang holds a front facelock and pounds him on the ropes, then falls on top of him with a clothesline for the pin at 8:52.
Hogan comes in and gets a corner clothesline on Gang, and he and Bigelow add a double-boot. Gang and Bigelow collide, however, and Gang tags to Rude while Bam Bam tags Orndorff. Orndorff with the suplex and elbow on Rude, and a backdrop sets up the piledriver, but Bundy breaks it up and Rude pins Orndorff with a handful of tights at 10:25. Muraco immediately attacks while Rude is posing, and Bigelow suplexes him to set up a high knee from Hogan, and a Muraco powerslam puts Rude out of his misery at 11:13. They announcers were right, Rude was having a rough night. Bundy misses a kneedrop on Muraco and Don goes to work on the leg and tries to slam Gang, which results in Gang falling on top for two. Gang whips Muraco into Andre’s head, and the 747 splash finishes at 12:59. Hogan of course whines about that, too.
Bam Bam comes in and tries a sunset flip on Gang, but gets sat on. Bundy gets a clothesline which Bigelow sells like Marty Jannetty, and that gets two. Gang pounds on Bammer and chokes him out on the ropes, as does Bundy. Gang elbows him down and Bundy throws some mean forearms to put him down, and that gets two. Bam Bam tries to crawl for the tag, but Andre comes in, and that brings Hulk in. He fires away on Andre and they trade chops in the corner, but Hulk gets the advantage and rams Andre into the turnbuckles. Bundy trips him up, however, and Hulk gets preoccupied with Bundy and Gang and gets counted out at 18:11. It’s your own fault, Hulk. And of course he bitches and moans about that, too. So that leaves Bam Bam by himself against Andre, Bundy and Gang, which doesn’t seem like great odds. Bammer tries it anyway, clotheslining Bundy down and dropping an elbow for two. Headbutt gets two. Dropkick and he goes to work on the leg, then dodges the Avalanche and slingshots in for the pin at 20:46. Gang takes the next shot, choking Bigelow out on the ropes and pounding on the neck, and a clothesline gets two. Bigelow slugs back, but Gang runs him into Andre’s boot and goes up. Flying splash misses and Bam Bam gets the pin at 23:06. However, he’s done, and Andre casually comes in and beats him into silly putty and pins him with the suplex thing at 24:21. A valiant effort by Bam Bam Bigelow. I really dug this match and you could tell everyone was fired up for it. **** Dig the tag team continuity from the faces here and the super pace by the super-heavyweight standards. Survivor: Andre the Giant. Really, the babyfaces winning the other three matches should have foreshadowed that result. And of course, whiny baby Hulk Hogan won’t even let him have his moment of glory, as he runs in and attacks Andre after his totally clean win over Bigelow. Jesse tells it like it is, saying that Hogan should have taken his defeat like a man and just stayed in the back. 3 for 6.
WWF World title: Hulk Hogan v. Andre the Giant
This did ungodly numbers and blows away all other ratings for wrestling matches. It also has one of the most famous finishes in history. As a match, not so good. Another first here as it marks the debut of the classic winged eagle WWF title belt, although Hulk’s pre-match interview sees him wearing the older design. Pretty big production gaffe there. Amazingly, that belt design would last for 10 years, second only to the Big Gold Belt (23 years and counting!) and the current I-C title (11 years and sorely in need of a redo). (Or in this case, a return to the previous belt.) Hulk cleans house on Dibiase and Virgil to start and then slugs away on Andre, but can’t knock him down. Hulk tries a corner clothesline, but still can’t punch him down, even after spinning his arm around like Popeye! That would KILL a normal man! He finally tries to go up, but Andre slams him off and then misses a headbutt. Andre chokes him out and stomps him, then puts him down with the headbutts. Big boot puts Hulk on the floor, and Virgil sends him back in for some more choking. Hogan fights up and slugs away in the corner, then gets a flying clothesline and drops the leg. The ref is busy with Virgil, and Andre headbutts Hogan from behind and suplexes him for the pin and the title at 9:04, despite Hogan’s shoulder being up at one. Pff, technicalities. So Andre immediately surrenders the title to Ted Dibiase as Hogan cries like a little bitch instead of manning up and doing something about it. I really wish 24/7 would show one of the house shows with Dibiase “defending” the title against Bam Bam Bigelow, for historical reasons if nothing else. I don’t know if any of them were taped for TV, though. Anyway, the really shocking thing here is that this isn’t even the worst refereeing job Earl Hebner would do in his career. Much better than their Wrestlemania match. That’s not saying much. 4 for 7.
Hulk Hogan v. Andre the Giant. The exciting quasi-main event of Wrestlemania IV. This feud is one of those cases where they started out with a bad match and got worse each time. Andre attacks to start, as vigorously as he could move by that point, and pounds Hogan with the CLUBBING FOREARMS. Having seen Hogan wrestle Big Show a million times, Andre really doesn’t look that tall here. Hogan fights back with clotheslines and goes after Dibiase, then rams him into Andre and starts throwing chops. Andre falls into the ropes and gets tangled up, so Hogan capitalizes by tearing his shirt off and posing. Well, no one ever said he was a great strategist. He slugs on Andre to no avail, and Andre finally goes down. He drops elbows, but Andre chokes him down on the mat. Andre is painfully slow here. Dibiase gets his shots in from the outside, and Andre chokes him from behind and turns it into a VULCAN NERVE PINCH OF DOOM. Andre continues choking, but Hulk miraculously comes back, which is a development I didn’t expect at all. Punch punch punch clothesline and Hogan goes for the slam, but Dibiase brings in a chair and breaks it up. Our combatants fight over it, and it’s a double DQ at 5:14, giving the winner of Dibiase v. Muraco a free trip to the finals. Horrible, horrible stuff, as Andre was obviously in no shape to be out there. Hogan, sportsman that he is, beats up Virgil and nearly kills him with a suplex on the floor because he didn’t want to go down with him. And then he slams Andre too. What a hero. 4 for 8.
Well, we continue the downward spiral for Andre tomorrow with Summerslam 88 and the Snake feud. Much like his life, this is getting to sadder to watch as it goes along.