2014 LOP Hall of Fame Inductee: Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III
By The Smartbreak Kid and 'Plan
Mar 31, 2014 - 12:00:00 PM
Image by Snowman
It was the ancient year of 1987 AD. A warlord known as Vincent Kennedy of the house McMahon was the ruler of the best warriors in all of planet Earth. In years prior, Vincent had pillaged the land of the old and feeble, allowing their best fighters to pledge allegiance to his Federation while the rest starved or fell into obscurity. It was a cruel way of life. Some even considered him a tyrant. His most loyal subjects, however, would have followed him into the fiery pits of Hell.
Vincent ruled from Titan Tower with an iron fist, enjoying the fruits of his labor alongside his two best warriors. His pride and joy lived in the form of a towering, blonde, mustachioed, muscular grappler appropriately named Hulk. Through his travels Hulk had defeated a rebellious, unpredictable, jester-like Scot known as Roddy. One year later he conquered a large helping of a man named after the mythical beast Kong. The second prized warrior in Vincent’s kingdom was a living, breathing GIANT from the mountains of France named Andre. Very few were left roaming the earth and this one was special. At 7’5” tall and well over 500 pounds in weight, Andre possessed a large heart of gold. He was also unstoppable on the battlefield, not having suffered a defeat in 15 long years.
The two warriors were the closest of friends. The Hulk was loved by women and children the world over. He was considered at the time to be a man of strict principles, following the ideals of faith and nutrition. His biceps were a storied 24 inches in diameter – something unheard of at the time. If ever a challenge arose that was too great, Hulk would enlist the help of the friendly Giant. Over the course of time though, that relationship wasn’t good enough for Andre.
The heroic Hulk received the adoration and riches the humble Giant quietly longed for. Through the advice of a weasel-like master manipulator known as The Brain, the Giant’s heart of gold quickly turned to stone. In the presence of thousands of onlookers, the Giant unexpectedly challenged Hulk to a duel. When Hulk vehemently refused, the Giant ripped Hulk’s golden crucifix – an undying symbol of his faith – clean from his neck. With a trickle of blood rolling down his chest, Hulk crumbled to his knees, in shock that his closest friend would act in such a way.
The people of the land were left with mouths agape. Hulk had faced many a foe and emerged the victor in grand fashion, but this was without a doubt going to be his absolute greatest challenge. The idea of anyone lifting the Giant off his feet was unfathomable, let alone defeating him. Word traveled fast that the two would do battle at the Silverdome of Pontiac.
On the evening of this historic battle, both participants were in peak physical condition: Hulk worked his muscles to their absolute strongest while the Giant ate and drank himself to the absolute heaviest. Known for his feats of strength and massive frame, the Giant had a reputation for making the most invincible of men appear feeble. When the bells rang through the hallowed halls of The Silverdome of Pontiac, 93,173 of the world’s citizens who had traveled from every corner of the globe to witness the confrontation in person stood to witness the arrival of the combatants. 186,346 eyes were about to see the end of their hero, or their hero overcome the most insurmountable of odds.
The once happy, now stoic, black-clad Giant was brought to the battleground on a chariot alongside The Brain – who donned gold and white, anticipating what was sure to be a victory. Hulk opted not to utilize a chariot, but instead, march to the ring, whipping his supporters into a frenzy, wearing his red and yellow house colors proudly. He would be damned if he were to lay down for his challenger without a fight. He approached the impossible task with great confidence because that is the only way he knew how.
As the gallery settled, Hulk and Andre stood across from one another. They slowly stepped to the center of the battleground and the masses erupted yet again. This was what they came to see. The preliminary contests that evening were surely exciting, but the grand finale is what would leave the world talking until the end of days.
For the first time in his life, Hulk was forced to look up at his foe. The anticipation reached a fever pitch. To establish his dominance, the Giant initiated first contact by shoving his old friend. Not to be pushed around, Hulk shoved back.
An incensed Andre attempted to land the first blow, but Hulk’s defense wouldn’t allow it to penetrate his defense. He fired back with crushing blows that barely rattled his massive enemy. With is confidence growing, Hulk foolishly attempted a feat no man had ever performed: to take the Giant off his feet with a slam of the body. It was to no avail, as the Giant’s body mass was too much for Hulk to handle. The two came crashing to the floor, the 500 pound Giant landing on top of the fallen Hulk with every last bit of his weight.
In these types of ancient battles, an official would be present to determine the winner and the loser. At that very moment, it appeared Hulk had quickly lost the anticipated confrontation. However, fortune was on Hulk’s side as he managed to prove to the official that he was not out of the contest. A close call nonetheless. The Giant was sure he had been victorious. Either way, the damage to the spinal column of Hulk had been done. The Giant recognized this weakness and punished his rival with crushing blows to the injured area. He stood over Hulk yelling, “GET UP!”, but the hero in peril struggled to do so.
Andre continued to dominate the man of the people. Hulk was at the mercy of the beast many commonly referred to as “The 8th Wonder of the World.” The Giant even lifted the 6’7”, 300 pound Hulk and tossed him halfway across the battlefield as if he were a helpless child. He even stepped on the tortured backside of the fallen star, using his enormous frame and focusing it all on Hulk’s injury. Hulk was whipped from pillar to post. The challenge was proving to be too great.
The citizens in attendance did their best to will Hulk on, but their optimism was rapidly fading. Whenever Hulk avoided a blow and mounted a comeback, he was eventually crumbled by the monster. The Giant, whose feet measured 22 inches in length, kicked Hulk in the face with tremendous force. Andre then slapped Hulk’s chest with hands the size of mallets. As if matters couldn’t possibly get worse, he wrapped his thick arms around Hulk’s torso and squeezed as hard as he could. He was determined to remove every last remnant of air from the hero’s body.
The Giant wrenched for what seemed like an eternity. No man could escape such an excruciating hold. No mere mortal could dig down deep enough inside to bring themselves back. This man, however, was no mere mortal. When it seemed like all hope had been sucked out of his being, Hulk drew energy from those in attendance. He responded with thunderous strikes to the head of the immovable object. The Giant loosened his grip. Hulk was free and rallying back with great vengeance!
Hulk stepped away to gather his composure. Once together, he charged toward the Giant with all of his might. Their bodies collided and the Giant barely budged. Hulk tried again, yet the result was the same. These were blows that would have shattered a lesser being into oblivion. Hulk tried a third time, but the Giant responded with an open palm to the throat that sent Hulk crashing down to the floor again. Andre wanted to punish his opponent, so he lifted him to his feet and kicked him so hard that Hulk fell from the battleground.
The confined area was not enough to contain the war. The Giant followed after the hero. Andre manhandled Hulk and leaned him against a steel column. A definitive blow was on his mind. Andre reared back and sent his massive cranium forward with intentions to collide with Hulk’s, sandwiching him against the steel and potentially cracking his skull like an egg. Hulk, somehow, some way, had the wherewithal to avoid the attack, causing the Giant to slam his own brains into the post. It provided a brief moment of hope, as the gallery of 93,173 roared with approval.
The floor outside of the designated battleground was much harder than anywhere else in the area. In the past, many men had utilized it to leave their adversary lying in a heap. Hulk’s intention was to do the same to the Giant. He needed to do whatever it took. When he apprehended the evil ogre, Hulk bent Andre toward him and positioned the Giant’s head between his (Hulk’s) legs, locking him in place. His intention was to raise Andre off the ground to spike his head into the hardened floor. If his strategy prevailed, there was no chance for the Giant to awaken. Yet again, Hulk underestimated Andre’s strength. The Giant stood straight up, sending Hulk over his head and crashing to the rock-like surface. The hero’s plans were thwarted. How much more punishment could he take?
They reentered the battleground as the Giant planned to deliver another brutal kick that could have finished off the people’s adored savior. In a pivotal moment, the Giant lifted his boot nearly 7 feet in the air toward Hulk’s face. Whether it was acute awareness or guy instinct, no one really knows. But at that very moment, Hulk ducked under the fatal kick and narrowly avoided contact. When the Giant turned around, Hulk came roaring back with a blow that finally took the fabled mammoth off his feet. Both crashed to the ground in a heap. The walls of the Silverdome of Pontiac rumbled from the gallery’s vocal eruption.
The Brain, who had been quiet and confident throughout the contest, pleaded with his Giant to rise to his feet. They said Hulk couldn’t win. The odds were too great. This could not be happening!
As the Giant slowly climbed to his feet, Hulk convulsed and shook his fists. He looked to the people as they cheered him on with great joy. They were behind their hero! Now was his chance! This was his moment! He had to do the unthinkable! He needed to perform the impossible!
It was at this very moment that Hulk accomplished a feat that would echo through eternity. A feat that would be immortalized by writers who witnessed it. An act so grand that men would tell their sons about for centuries after it happened, passing the story from generation to generation. Hulk reached out and grabbed the Giant. In one movement – that spectators say was so surreal, it felt like slow motion – Hulk hooked the thigh and shoulder of his 500 pound opponent, lifted his feet from the ground, flipped him end over end, and SLAMMED the French Giant named Andre flat onto his back in the middle of the battleground! Legend has it that if you were within 60 kilometers of the battle that night, the Earth beneath you shook.
As the Giant laid, seemingly defeated, Hulk delivered one final blow that would ensure his victory. He ran toward the fallen Giant, leaped toward the Heavens, and came crashing down with his tree trunk-like leg across the Giant’s gullet. It was over. The hero had emerged victorious. Evil had been defeated. All was right in the world.
Not long after the battle, the Giant named Andre perished quietly in his own kingdom. Many share fond memories of the man they once new. Their stories focus on his storied kindness, his legendary strength, and the one night he almost bested one of the greatest warriors who ever lived.
As for Hulk, his adventures forged ahead into later decades. In following years, his path became confused, as he embraced evil whilst visiting the Kingdom of Turner. Eventually, Hulk realized the error of his ways. He would never stray from the path of righteousness ever again, ultimately rejoining the house of McMahon. Hulk knew that when it came crashing down and it hurt inside, he had to be a man… it did not help to hide. If you hurt his friends, then you, in turn, hurt his pride. He had to be a man. He could not let it slide. He fought for the rights of every man. He fought for what is right. He fought… for his life.
Over the years, accounts of what took place at the Silverdome of Pontiac have been well-traveled. Some accounts differ from others, but the core remains the same. An unstoppable force met an immovable object, and proved that the impossible was anything but. The End.
Written by The Smartbreak Kid, formerly of LOP and currently of RingsideAcademy.com
Hogan and André wrestled a perfect match for their time. It is a match that is far from being about its content. Well, perhaps not entirely. Lest we forget, when Hogan presses André up and slams him to the mat you probably have the first ever organic “Wrestlemania Moment” and it’s certainly promoted as one of the originals as well; in all those video packages it’s hard to spot one that happened any earlier. That moment in this match is heralded by the company, in the subtext of the conversation if nothing else, almost as an origin point for the modern wrestling product the promotion now offers us. Certainly it is afforded the status of a historical tipping point.
Outside of that immortal (pardoning the pun) body slam however, I repeat that Hogan and André is a match that is far from being about its content. No, Hogan and André is about something else entirely – not what happened, but simply that it did happen.
Some could claim it allowed Hogan’s popularity to go from blindingly obvious to white-hot stratospheric; the truth is that Hogan’s popularity is a complex beast all its own. Some may call it the first dream match of the lot, a formula repeated again and again over the years by WWE at varying pitch. Simply in having happened, Hogan and André created a bout that shaped the wrestling world on every level – fans, performers, promoters – and the key expression in that line of thought is inspiration.
I have no concrete evidence to show, but I wonder how many wrestlers fell in love with the business because of this match. I wonder how many fans fell in love with the business because of this match. I wonder how many promoters, bookers, writers and athletes decided on a certain approach on a certain night because of this match. Words today are thrown around often all too lightly, as if they mean nothing. Words like memorable, unique, even legendary have monolithic implications underpinning them. Not only is this match the one match I think we can all agree fits all of those words, in some ways it transcends them. I used the word myth earlier; indeed, this is a mythical bout.
This bout has developed a reputation that dictates it isn’t really a match at all; it was a happening, an idea, a kind of watershed moment that comes along so rarely it stands as an evergreen diamond against the onslaught of time’s tides. Whether it is on a conscious or subconscious level, through direct experience or experience through osmosis, it is likely each one of us has, in some way, had our wrestling lives irrevocably affected by the undertaking of those two men on that single night in Pontiac.
It is an honour and a pleasure to induct Hulk Hogan vs. André the Giant from Wrestlemania III into the LOP Hall of Fame. There may never be a bigger moment.
Written by 'Plan and edited by The Doc