The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Collections – Andre the Giant (part 4)
Who’s sick of these yet? Well, now we’re really getting into the bottom of the barrel for Andre’s career, sadly. Let’s put on a pot of coffee and wrap this one up.
Lumberjack match: Andre the Giant v. Hacksaw Jim Duggan
From MSG in July of ’88, with the dream team of Lord Alfred, Sean Mooney and Superstar Graham on commentary. Fitting that Duggan would be in a LUMBERjack match, huh? SEE WHAT I DID THERE? BECAUSE HE USES A 2X4. OK, clearly I’m not working to the right crowd here. Duggan stalls and yells a lot to start, but Andre gets some shots in the corner and slugs Duggan down. Watching Andre walk out there is actively painful. Andre drops the ASS OF DEATH on Duggan in the corner a few times, and Mooney notes that he’s knocked Duggan senseless. Seriously, how would you tell the difference? Duggan comes back and Andre gets tied up in the ropes as per his contract, but Andre escapes and hugs Duggan in the corner. Not bearhugs, just…hugs. Andre grabs a standing chinlock and uses the strap to choke him out, and then bites the thumb so that Duggan is unable to give a thumbs up and go “Hoooo”, thus robbing him of 15% of his offense. Andre with the bearhug and that goes badly for Duggan, so Superstar suggests a thumb to the eye to break. Instead, Duggan punches him in the nose and makes the comeback. Andre blocks the running clothesline by punching him in the face and then undoes the turnbuckle and whips Duggan into it. Andre derides Duggan’s so-called “tough guy” character, but Duggan rams him into the exposed turnbuckle in response. Don Muraco throws the illegal board into the ring and Duggan hits the Giant with it, sending him to the floor, but good luck to the lumberjacks getting him back in. And in fact Andre just clobbers all the geeks and heads back into the ring himself, because FUCK THEM. Duggan charges again, but Andre catches him, rams him into the exposed steel, and drops the elbow at 12:35 to finish it. OK, everyone was working hard here. 1 for 1.
WWF title: Randy Savage v. Andre the Giant
No idea where this is from. Looks like a dark match of some sort, apparently in Los Angeles according to the commentary. It’s lit and shot like a TV taping but there’s no identifying banners, so I guess it’s just one of those televised LA Sports Arena shows. We get the big stall to start as Bobby Heenan is sent to the back for harassing Liz and Andre argues that point for a while. Savage comes in throwing punches, but Andre tosses him and then blatantly chokes Savage out back in the ring. Like, the guy is literally throttling Savage with both hands and Hebner won’t even count! This might be the worst refereeing job that Earl Hebner will ever do. Andre chokes him out with the shoulder strap and headbutts Macho out of the ring. Back in, Savage slugs back. So this is clearly Monsoon and Graham clumsily overdubbed, because there is literally no sound coming from the ring and it’s REALLY distracting. Like, they managed to completely mix the ring mic out, although some of the background crowd noise has at least survived. It’s just creepy to see Savage bumping around and no sounds resulting. Andre gets tied in the ropes and Savage works him over, but Andre headbutts him down and chokes away in the corner. He undoes the turnbuckle, but tries a headbutt and misses, knocking himself out in the process. Savage keeps running him into the turnbuckle until he goes down, and Savage pops up with the flying elbow, which gets two. I know it’s Andre, but Savage was the top guy and World champion…he should have stayed down. Andre rolls out and they both get counted out at 10:30 instead. Really bad finish, slow and plodding match where Andre wouldn’t give Savage anything. 1 for 2.
WWF World title: Randy Savage v. Andre the Giant.
This is from SNME 18. Ugly pea-soup green tights for Macho tonight, my least favourite variant. Savage tries the boxing in the corner, but Andre boots him down and grabs a facelock in the corner. Andre rams him in the corner, but Savage hits him with a knee to the back before Andre goes back to his facelock again. Andre switches to the choking with the strap and headbutts him, but Savage keeps fighting in the corner. Andre headbutts him again and goes back to choking, but Randy uses a jawjacker to break free. He slugs away in the corner, but Andre chokes him down again. Savage goes up with the double axehandle as Jake Roberts joins us to further that ridiculous feud. So the match grinds to a halt as the ref kicks Roberts out and we take a break. Back with Savage jumping Andre from behind while Bobby searches for the snake. Andre smacks Savage down and gets all worked up about the snake while Heenan tears ringside apart. Savage uses the distraction to keep on the attack, but he can’t take Andre off his feet. Savage chases after Heenan and gets attacked by Andre again as a result, and finally Bobby finds Damian. And it turns into a big schmoz at 8:42 with everyone running in. Decent enough, but it didn’t actually lead to a finish and Savage looked really weak selling like a jobber for Andre at that point in both of their careers. Savage, the World champion, got no significant offense in, which would have been fine if it lead to him getting the big come-from-behind win, but it didn’t. 1 for 3.
Jake Roberts v. Andre the Giant
Back to Los Angeles in January of 89. Long, long, stall to start as Andre won’t start with the snake visible, so Jake has to hide it under the ring. Finally Jake hits the Giant with a kneelift and he gets tied in the ropes, so Jake chokes him out and slugs away. Jake teases going to retrieve the snake, so Andre breaks free and chokes Jake down, then cuts off Jake’s comeback with a headbutt and chokes him down on the ropes. Andre works him over in the corner, but Jake fights back with a kneelift that staggers Andre. Jake tries the DDT, but Andre swats him down and chokes away again. Jake goes up with a flying forearm in a rare show of aerial offense from Jake, and he throws the snake in the ring and that’s a DQ at 8:00. Damian actually bites Jake’s hand in the melee and it’s a pretty gnarly cut. Nothing to this one. 1 for 4.
Jake Roberts v. Andre the Giant
Special ref here is John Studd. Andre attacks to start and rams Jake into a conveniently missing turnbuckle, and quickly tries choking him out. Jake goes for the snake, but Andre grabs him in a chokehold again. Jesse has a funny line here, noting that David beat Goliath with a foreign object. That’s a wrestling mentality for you. Andre leans on Jake in the corner, which is about as lazy as you can get, offensively speaking. More choking and Andre uses his butt as a weapon, and chokes away again. Jake slugs back and Andre gets tied in the ropes as a result, which allows Jake to do his own choking. But not for long, because Andre is the master of choking. And choke he does! And did I mention the choking? Because there’s quite a lot of it. Jake comes back with punches and sends Andre into the bare turnbuckle, but Andre chops him right out of the ring. Andre won’t let him in, and the camera’s closeup of the ring apron reveals that they were so cheap as to recycle the skirts from Wrestlemania IV, simply by removing the “I” from the roman numeral. Studd and Andre get into a shoving match, while Ted Dibiase steals the snake, and Andre attacks Studd to draw the rather obvious DQ and set up the big feud that never happened. The recovered snake sends Andre fleeing. 1 for 5.
Andre the Giant v. Junkyard Dog
This is from Paris, so I imagine Andre will be a huge babyface here. And was Dog seriously still around at the end of 88? Oddly enough, “Grab Them Cakes” remains here, unpurged by the music Nazis. We spend the first few minutes with Andre refusing to get into the ring until JYD gets rid of the chain, which is a totally reasonable request. So Andre actually walks out of the arena and returns to the dressing room and Dog relinquishes the chain, 6:00 into the “match” mind you, at which point Andre returns after being talked into it by Terry Garvin. Speaking of perverts, I wonder if Mel Phillips ever tried to steal Andre’s size 23 boots? So finally, 8:00 into this, Andre gets into the ring and the match starts, at which point Andre chokes Dog out of the ring. Back in, Andre continues choking him and works him over in the corner, but Dog gets one punch and Andre is tied in the ropes. Dog chokes him out, but Andre is loosed from his bonds and undoes the turnbuckle, albeit after about 10 tries while Dog has to stagger around the ring selling. Andre runs him into the corner a few times, but misses a headbutt and hits the steel. Dog charges, so Andre boots him down and pins him with his feet on the ropes at 6:48. We are really scraping the bottom of the bottom of the barrel at this point, as this was seriously of the one worst pro wrestling matches I’ve ever seen. 1 for 6.
Intercontinental title: Ultimate Warrior v. Andre the Giant
This is from MSG in late 89, but it’s not one of the famed 30 second squashes. Warrior charges in and Andre immediately chokes him out, but Warrior returns the choking on the ropes and they literally stand there choking each other out. I think I would have preferred the 30 second squash. Giant misses a headbutt and hits the previously exposed turnbuckle, and Warrior slugs away on him, but Andre resumes choking again. Warrior fights out of that, and tries a bearhug on Andre, which gets a surprisingly huge pop from the crowd. Next up, he slams Andre and tries to finish with the splash, but Andre kind of swats him aside from his back, and Warrior hits knee. Andre works on the back, but Warrior fires up and hits him with three clotheslines to put him on the floor and the crowd is going nuts. No wonder Vince decided to pull the trigger on Warrior. Andre heads back in and takes out the ref, then headbutts Warrior down and drops an elbow on him, only to have the ref wake up and call for the DQ at 9:31. I dunno what Andre’s problem with Warrior was, he looked fine out there and the match got over. 2 for 7.
WWF tag team titles: Demolition v. Andre the Giant & Haku
From WWF Superstars at the end of 1989. It’s a DONNYBROOK to start as Demolition tries attacking the Heenan Family, but Haku chokes Ax down and rams him into Andre’s head. Andre chokes Ax out behind the ref’s back while Smash keeps distracting the ref and messing things up for his team. Haku with a backbreaker on Ax and Andre comes in and clobbers him, then holds him in the corner to set up a Haku charge. That misses and Ax tries for the hot tag, but Haku cuts off the ring again. Ax can’t get back to the corner, and Andre comes in with the headbutts to the back of the head, which finally draws a frustrated Smash in. Haku hits the superkick behind the ref’s back and Andre drops the elbow on Ax to win the titles in a complete squash at 5:40. There was actually a neat synergy to this, as Ax was never able to tag out, and when Demolition regained the titles at Wrestlemania they used exactly the same strategy by keeping Haku in the ring for the entire match. Andre looked FIRED UP to get those titles. 3 for 8.
WWF tag team titles: Andre the Giant & Haku v. The Rockers
This is from the pre-WM special on USA. The champs attack the Rockers to start, but they team up with a dropkick to tie Andre in the ropes. Haku grabs a headlock on Shawn, and then rams him into Andre’s head, but Marty tags himself in and they double-team Haku. That ends quickly when Andre tags in and just destroys Marty with headbutts and the buttdrops in the corner. Haku with a backbreaker for two. Shawn gets a blind tag and comes in for some more double-teams on Haku, but Andre BACKHANDS Marty on the way by and then tosses Shawn out of the ring. Marty is helpless, and they hit the double-team superkick on him, but Demolition runs in for the DQ at 3:41. Too bad, they were having a very entertaining David & Goliath match there. 4 for 9.
WWF tag team titles: Andre the Giant & Haku v. Demolition
Here on the Network, “Demolition” has been restored as the entrance theme, whereas it was purged from the Anthology DVD set. Ax and Haku slug it out and Haku goes down, but comes back on Smash with a thumb to the eye. They fight over a backslide and Smash gets two, but Andre breaks it up. Back to Ax, but Haku hits him with the POLYNESIAN MARTIAL ARTS~! Haku with a backbreaker for two and a thrust kick, and Haku chokes away on the ropes. Andre gets a cheap headbutt from the apron and Haku gets two. More double-teaming in the corner gets two for Haku, as Andre is limited to standing on the apron for the match. Haku headbutt gets two. Ax tries to fight back and Haku thumbs him in the eye again and goes to the nerve hold. Ax fights up again and Haku pounds him down and gets a shoulderbreaker for two. Even the announcers are wondering now why Andre won’t tag in. Blind charge misses and Ax comes back with a clothesline, and it’s hot tag Smash. Elbow and backdrop for Haku and a crossbody gets two. The Demos double-clothesline both of the heels, pound Haku down, and that finally brings Andre in. The double-team misses, however, Andre gets tied in the ropes, and the Demolition elbow gives them their third tag titles at 9:09. Pretty decent for a glorified handicap match. ** Bobby Heenan gives Andre the gears afterwards and gets beaten up as a result, turning Andre face one last time to end his career. Andre casually catching Haku’s thrust kick and then beating the hell out of him as well is great stuff. 5 for 10.
Under New Management
Very near the end now, as we’re into June of 1991 and Jimmy Hart and Earthquake do a promo where they introduce Quake’s new partner…Andre the Giant? Mean Gene is immediately skeptical and asks Andre to come out and confirm or deny. So indeed, the Giant comes out and seems to be friends with the heels, but Gene reminds us of all the other managers that Andre has turned down in the past few weeks. I seriously don’t remember this at all, and I was certainly watching weekly at this point. Anyway, Andre lets Jimmy think he’s got the deal, and then reveals that there’s no deal, at which point Quake takes out Andre’s leg and beats him down. This was supposed to be leading to Andre v. Earthquake at Summerslam, but Andre couldn’t make it happen. 5 for 11.
The Natural Disasters v. The Bushwackers
From Summerslam 91. Pass. 5 for 12.
Larger Than Life
From episode #4 of RAW, Howard Finkel announces the death of Andre the Giant, and we get a 10-bell salute and a photo montage. Then, from Superstars, Vince McMahon announces the WWF Hall of Fame, with first inductee Andre the Giant.
A True Giant
And finally, Tim White sits down to share some memories of his friend in a very nice tribute, but this part is getting too sad and I’m glad we’re at the end.
There’s also an episode of Legends of Wrestling covering Andre stories, but I’m about done at this point. And I’m pretty sure you are as well. even though this is being written days ago and posted well in advance. So maybe it’s a huge hit and there’s more demand for Andre, who knows?
Anyway, this is a fantastic collection overall covering all the rare stuff and famous stuff and stuff in between, and I really enjoyed reviewing it all. Give it a look if you’re browsing the Network.