The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Hidden Gems – Andre the Giant Edition (05.16.19)
With the addition of the Andre documentary to the WWE Network, they decided to celebrate with some Andre matches we’ve never seen before! It’s kind of amazing that Verne Gagne’s tape library is proving to be more valuable after the company is gone than it was when the AWA was around.
Defying the Odds (11.07.82)
Andre the Giant & Hulk Hogan v. Ken Patera, Bobby Duncum, Nick Bockwinkel & Bobby Heenan
The AWA is the gift that keeps on giving. Guys, I’m not liking the chances for the babyfaces here. 3-on-1 would be bad enough, but putting the added ring skill of Bobby Heenan in there really tips the scales against our heroes. Andre spends the ring introductions trolling Heenan, constantly stopping the ring announcer and demanding that he be introduced as “Bobby the Weasel Heenan” while Bobby gets madder and madder. Andre immediately traps all the heels in the corner and beats on them until they run away, and that leaves Bobby all alone momentarily. Duncum tries to start with Hogan and gets killed, and Andre takes care of the other heels by himself. Hogan with a high knee on Duncum and he follows with the clothesline and elbow for two, but Bockwinkel saves. So then Andre chases off the heels again, but Bockwinkel and Heenan get some cheapshots on him. Hogan slams Patera and hits Duncum with the big boot to chase him out of the ring for a backbreaker. Over to Andre and Duncum plays ragdoll physics demo and bumps all over the ring. Andre is DANCING and the heels are terrified to tag in with this maniac. So Bockwinkel gives it a shot and runs into Andre’s ass. So that didn’t work. Bockwinkel tries to hang onto Patera and Andre pulls them both into the ring in a hilarious spot and then poor Nick gets destroyed in the babyface corner. Andre bites Bockwinkel while he does the big comedy sell and Andre’s just having fun out there. Patera tries to slam Andre and that goes badly for him, so he kicks Andre in the face instead and finally they get him down. All the heels go to work on Andre but Hogan saves right away and clears the ring, then beats on Heenan for good measure. But then he gets distracted by choking Patera and that allows the heels to get more punishment on Andre.
Patera and Duncum manage to slam Andre as a team, but Andre tosses Patera away before he can even make a cover. And then Bobby stupidly comes in solo and Andre just MURDERS him and whips him into Hogan’s big boot. And that worked well, so he does it for the other heels and then they trap Bobby in the babyface corner with the power of Andre’s ass. Bockwinkel tries to save and Andre rams them together as the Heenan team is having a contest to see who can sell the biggest for Hogan and Andre. Hogan beats on Bockwinkel, but misses a blind charge and Duncum goes to work on him as the crowd is instantly rabid. Patera works the arm and Bobby comes in and stomps away in the corner. The heels switch off with more armbars, but Hulk finally slams Duncum and makes the HOT TAG to Andre. He hurls the heels all over the ring and they all go flying for him while begging for mercy, and Hogan hits Duncum with the big boot and legdrop and gets two. Everyone brawls and poor Duncum takes a big boot from ANDRE this time, and then Andre slams Hulk on Duncum and sits on them for the pin at 17:30. The announcers speculate that this will set up Hogan for a title shot at Nick Bockwinkel, and you’d have to think they couldn’t screw THAT up. Right?
This was tremendous fun, with the heels all selling for Andre like crazy and making him look like an even bigger star. Watching Andre going out there and smiling through a great match just makes me happy to be a wrestling fan. 1 for 1. Interestingly, standing together in the ring, Hulk and Andre aren’t significantly different in height. Andre must have been wearing lifts in his boots in his later years and in particular at Wrestlemania 3.
To Slam a Giant (11.02.80)
$5000 Bodyslam Challenge: Crusher Blackwell v. Andre the Giant
Our announcer notes that Blackwell’s pre-match strategy was to get fatter before the match so as to hinder Andre’s ability to slam him. Now that’s some psychology for you. Blackwell runs away for a bit and then gets a top wristlock, but Andre flips him to the mat. Blackwell hangs on with a hammerlock, but Andre’s had enough already and gives him “the gluteal smash” according to the announcer. Blackwell bails to escape and Andre just wallops him with chops on the way back in and then goes to work on the leg. Can’t slam him if he can’t walk, I guess. Blackwell fights up and pounds away on Andre, and actually manages a BACKDROP on Andre! That’s more impressive than a slam, I’d say. That only gets one. He tries a slam and Andre falls on top for two. And then Andre casually picks him up and slams him to win $5000, but Blackwell attacks him and Andre gets so mad that he tosses Blackwell over the top and gets disqualified at 10:00. So Andre wins the money, but Blackwell wins the match. Fine for what it was. 2 for 2.
Battle of the Giants (07.20.84)
Andre the Giant v. Big John Studd
From the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis, and we’re into Andre’s WWF career now, obviously. I have no idea what this footage was going to be used for, as there’s no commentary but it’s shot with multiple cameras and has graphics for their names. Maybe just a dark match from a TV taping? So Studd literally walks around the ring for FIVE MINUTES before the match even starts, and then Andre can’t take any more and chokes him out with his own robe to start the match. Studd escapes to the floor, but Andre attacks him on the way in and chokes him out, literally wrapping his head in the ropes and throttling him until he falls out of the ring to escape. Back in, Studd catches Andre with his head down and ties him in the ropes to get his revenge, then shoves the ref out of the ring and beats on Andre. How was that not a DQ? He literally sent the official flying to the floor! Studd continues beating on Andre, but he makes the comeback and squashes Studd in the corner. Andre throws some terrifying headbutts and hits the big boot, then sits on Studd and pins him at 7:35. Note to self: DO NOT ANGER THE GIANT. Well I guess we know who the real giant is now. 3 for 3.
And of course, be sure to check out the Andre documentary that was also posted to the Network to go along with these!