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Posted in: LOP Hall Of Fame
2016 LOP Hall of Fame Inductee: Andre the Giant
By Mr. Tito
Apr 3, 2016 - 10:31:57 AM

Andre the Giant
Class of 2016

Follow Mr. Tito on Twitter.com: @titowrestling

I, Mr. Tito, am here to officially induct the legendary Andre "the Giant" into the LordsofPain.net Hall of Fame. First and foremost, thank you as always to The Doc for hosting this annual induction ceremony each year. Secondly, thank you to the readers of LoP for supporting our website and anything we post.

I grew up in the 1980's but didn't become a full blown wrestling fan until 1988... Yet, I knew about Andre the Giant. Whether you were a wrestling fan or not, you couldn't avoid him... Andre was like a real-life American Paul Bunyan who was larger than life and was surrounded by many great myths. He was billed as being 7 foot 4 inches tall and everybody believed it... Because of his size and natural strength, while wrestling was still believed to be mostly real during the 1970's and 1980's, he was a huge draw across the world in wrestling arenas. I remember Bobby "the Brain" Heenan once calling Andre the "greatest draw of all time" because just the mere hype of Andre appearing on the show would pack arenas and didn't need much television or advertising to sell the show.

I believe that Andre had a major influence on Vince McMahon Jr.. Vince Jr. joined the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF), which later became WWF and WWE, during 1969 and was present as an announcer during the 1970's when Andre's popularity exploded during that decade. Vince Jr. was amazed by Andre and even filmed interview segments where Andre stood on wood boxes (or something close) just to make Andre look that much taller. Andre's larger-than-life character had a big influence on Vince who would spend the next decade during the 1980's conveying that influence. Vince Jr., once he purchased the WWE from his dad Vince Sr. in 1982, began to push unique characters and much larger wrestlers than what was seen in the WWE previous (besides Andre). I believe that the creation of the Undertaker was Vince's attempt to create his own "Andre" and it has been incredibly successful.

Then, there was Wrestlemania 3... Through 1987, Andre was still popular. Sure, he was older and his health was deteriorating. But he was still Andre the Giant. The beauty of professional wrestling is that you can keep pro wrestlers stronger for a lengthy period of time even when past their prime. The booking in pro wrestling can protect its stars and keep them legendary. The effects of years of in-ring work and excessive travel were catching up to Andre along with his real life condition of Acromegaly which is a rare condition where your body can't stop producing growth hormone. Yet, he's put on that back brace and keep performing despite the pain. He kept wrestling through the early 1990's. Sadly, Andre the Giant passed away on January 27th, 1993 due to heart failure at the age of 46 years old.

But again, pro wrestling can protect its stars and keep their legend alive longer than real sports. Andre was kept strong throughout the 1980's. Andre feuded with "Big" John Studd and beat him at Wrestlemania 1 and then won a Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 2. Headling both of those Wrestlemanias was a man named Hulk Hogan. Andre was familiar with a wrestler named Hulk Hogan whom he wrestled regularly during the late 1970's and early 1980's. However, Hogan was yet to have his 1982 film appearance in Rocky 3 and become a national celebrity himself. Hogan rejoined the WWE during late 1983 after a nice babyface run in AWA and Hulkamania ran wild in the WWE for the next 10 years. Vince McMahon Jr. was changing the culture for pro wrestling and began pushing his programming on syndication and Cable. Vince was able to push his larger-than-life characters across the nation and that began to dismantle the old territory system.

Wrestlemania 3 had the larger-than-life WWE star of the 1970's and early 1980's (Andre) pitted against the new star of the mid to late 1980's (Hogan). Except, Andre's career was winding down and Hogan's was rising. Both were babyfaces yet during 1986-1987, but Hogan had the upside. Thus, the suggestion was made to turn Andre the Giant into a heel and having him join the Bobby Heenan family. That was a huge sacrifice at the time and Andre could have said "no". He went fully along with the storyline of being jealous and upset at Hulk Hogan getting a bigger trophy than him and joining Heenan. Then, at Wrestlemania 3 in front of a huge crowd in Detroit, MI, Andre lost cleanly to Hulk Hogan in one of the most iconic matches ever. As a 7 year old kid at the time, I heard about the hype of that specific match and yet I wasn't following wrestling until more than a year later. The image of Hogan and Andre staring each other down could not be avoided.

And then, Andre the Giant was still viable after that big loss. He would be involved with a storyline to defeat Hulk Hogan for the first time since in 4 years and for the WWE Title as well. It was Andre's first and only WWE Title. That was the beauty of Andre... He did NOT need a World Title because he was such a strong draw anyway. He was the living Paul Bunyan and everybody believed in the hype that pro wrestling fed them. Andre beat Hogan during early 1988 due to some twin magic on the Hebner referees and because he was a heel, he tried to "sell" the title to the Million Dollar Man, Ted Dibiase. Zero protests from Andre for a lengthy reign... He knew the wrestling business and kept giving back to it. Because of Andre's actions, the WWE Title was vacated and that opened the door for a new star to rise named Macho Man Randy Savage. Savage wins the WWE Title and forms a friendship with Hulk Hogan called the "Mega Powers" while Andre joined with Ted Dibiase called the "Mega Bucks". The two teams would headline the first ever SummerSlam event in 1988 and it's was incredibly successful to put yet another WWE Pay Per View on the map.

In Andre's later years, he'd act like he was afraid of snakes against Jake "the Snake" Roberts and do his best to put over the Ultimate Warrior. Then, Andre has a decent WWE Tag Title run with Haku the "Colossal Connection" until putting over Demolition at Wrestlemania 6. After the match, Bobby Heenan was upset at Andre's performance and that allowed Andre to react and finally return to being a babyface.

Andre, himself, would get into movies by starring in the Princess Bride from 1987. The movie did well, for its time, in the box office but received critical acclaim. The film remains on many top movie lists and Andre made an impression on fellow actors from that film. In 1998, Billy Crystal made a film called My Giant which was based on time with Andre and starred basketball player Gheorghe Muresan. The movie is a timeless classic that will forever keep Andre within pop culture along with pro wrestling.

Andre is a prime example of what superstars that pro wrestling can create. Sure, there is legitimate appeal of Andre's massive size... But pro wrestling booking kept Andre from losing and promoted him almost like a circus act (I mean that in a good "special attraction" way). In turn, pro wrestling made Andre a star that everybody knew and believed was one on of the toughest human beings in the world. When Hulk Hogan bodyslammed Andre and then pinned him cleanly, the world was in awe of Hogan for the feat that he just accomplished. And then, despite that loss, the booking afterward kept Andre strong and viable for another 3 years despite his ailing health. He was Andre and he was a Giant. All WWE had to do was create storylines that kept that myth alive...

As I said above, it is my honor to induct Andre the Giant into the LoP Hall of Fame. He has made a GIANT impact on pro wrestling, the WWE, and is possibly the greatest wrestler influence on Vince McMahon. Size and larger-than-life characters is what Vince McMahon seeks and Andre created the blueprint for Vince to follow.