I can happilly say that during my wrestling fandom down here in the colonies (starting in the laste 60's) that Ive had the great good fortune to see and occasionally meet some deadset legends of our sport...I met Bruiser Brody and Stan Hansen one night after the matches at South Sydney Juniors Rugby League Club....I met Animal and Hawk at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre (on the tour where Hawk was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy)...and then there was Andre, I got to spend a few minutes with the great man when he worked St George Leagues Club, I have to say, this was before before Wrestlemania One, he still had long hair and moved pretty good.
Mind you, I'd been watching Andre since he started doing tours to Australia and I reckon I saw him either at TV tapings or live on everyone of them..
.the most resounding memory of the Giant was in a Russian Roulette match, or what the rest of the world called a Battle Royal, I had no idea why Barnett (or whoever was booking) called it that in Australia then and still dont....
Anyway, as per usual Andre was tossing blokes left, right and centre, until the only fellow left was Larry O'Dea and instead of chucking Larry, Andre split the cheque with him...the most amazing bit was Andre lifting Larry onto his shoulder...no small feat, Larry had to be 17 stone if he was an ounce.
At 7'4" and 500 pounds, Andre the Giant could have been famous for his size alone. His drive, talent and ambition, however, proved to be as big as Andre himself, and the wrestler became legendary for his achievements in and out of the ring.
Andre was born Andre Rene Roussimoff in Grenoble, France on May 19, 1946. His parents, Boris and Marian Roussimoff, and four siblings were of average size. Andre, however, suffered from acromegaly, a disease that results in an over abundance of growth hormones.
Also known as Giantism, this disease caused Andre's body to continue growing his whole life, he displayed symptoms very early, reaching a height of 6'3" (190.5 cm) and a weight of 240 pounds (110 kg) by the age of 12.and by the time he was 17 he stood 6'7".
At age 17, Roussimoff moved to Paris and was taught the art of professional wrestling by a local promoter who recognized the earning potential of Roussimoff's size. He trained at night and worked as a mover during the day to pay living expenses. Roussimoff was billed as "Géant Ferré", taken from the name of a mythical French giant and began wrestling in Paris and nearby areas.
Canadian promoter and wrestler Frank Valois met Roussimoff in 1966, becoming his business manager and adviser. Roussimoff began making a name for himself wrestling in the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa.
Due to his immense stature it seemed inevitable that Andre would excel in the wrestling world. He had just started to make a name for himself in the ring as "Monster Eiffel Tower" or "Monster Roussimoff" when French-Canadian wrestler Edouard Carpentier first laid eyes on him. Carpentier was impressed with Andre's raw talent and decided to bring him to North America.
Andre began wrestling under the name Jean Ferre in Canada for Grand Prix Promotions. In a short time Andre went from the undercard to being a headlining name. Inspired by the movie King Kong he acquired the nickname, "The 8th Wonder of the World," which stayed with him for the rest of his career.
He made his Japanese debut in 1970, billed as "Monster Roussimoff", wrestling for the International Wrestling Enterprise. Wrestling as both a singles and tag team competitor, he quickly won the company's tag team championship alongside Michael Nador. During his time in Japan, doctors first informed Roussimoff that he suffered from acromegaly.
Due to tape trading /selling I had quite a few Andre matches on VHS...his early matches against Hogan (with Fred Blassie) were quite good..yes, he wrestled Hulk BEFORE the heel turn, contrary to what Vince jnr fed his commentators at the time...he had wrestled with Hulk in the Gagne territory as well.
One famous tale of Andres career was the night he was in Memphis about to work with Lawler, The King said to him "Well Boss, how about I pin you tonight in the match, Andre being ever affiable said sure why not...and lo and behold Lawler (along with every heel on the Memphis roster) pinned Andre in the middle of the ring....
suffice it to say when Vince Snr found out he was less than impressed and the edict was given that The Giant would never lose again...NO MATTER WHAT !...the real King of Wrestling had spoken.
By the time Andre had performed in front of 20,000 wrestling fans in Montreal, his legend had reached Vince McMahon, Sr. at the World Wide Wrestling Federation's (WWWF) headquarters. McMahon would forever alter Andre's life.
In 1972, McMahon signed Andre to wrestle for the WWWF and changed his name to capitalize on his colossal size. "Andre the Giant" became one of the most recognizable names in wrestling. Andre performed under his new name at Madison Square Garden, where he easily defeated his opponent Buddy Wolfe without breaking a sweat.
Before long, Andre's venues were sold out and wrestlers lined up to perform in his shadow. As Andre's fame grew to stardom, he was featured in Sports Illustrated in the largest feature they had ever published.
In 1987 Andre drew the "alledged" biggest crowd in WWF history thus far. Fans packed the Pontiac Silver Dome in Detroit, Michigan to watch Andre wrestle fellow legend Hulk Hogan in the main event of WrestleMania III.
I can honestly say that I dont think the heel turn was warranted as Hulk and Andre for the belt would of drawn anyway..BUT...Vince jnr aint a big fan of Face v Face main events..then or now.
In all, Andre participated at six WrestleManias and faced some of the toughest opponents in the business, including Big John Studd and Jake "The Snake" Roberts. For many years he was known as the "Uncrowned Champion," .
Andre captured many belts, he also won titles in the (NWA), (IWA) and the WWF Tag Team Championship.
A GIANT DRINKER
Roussimoff has been unofficially crowned "The Greatest Drunk on Earth" for once consuming 119 12-US-fluid-ounce (350 ml) beers (over 41 litres) in 6 hours.
On an episode of WWE's Legends of Wrestling, Mike Graham said André once drank 156, 16-US-fluid-ounce (470 ml) beers in one sitting, which was confirmed by Dusty Rhodes. In her autobiography, The Fabulous Moolah writes that André drank 127 beers in a Reading, Pennsylvania, hotel bar and later passed out in the lobby. The staff could not move him and had to leave him there until the giant awoke from his slumber.
When André underwent surgery in 1987, his size made it impossible for the anesthesiologist to estimate a dosage via standard methods; consequently, his alcohol tolerance ("it usually takes two liters of vodka just to make me feel warm inside") was used as a guideline instead.
Andre's fame also opened the door to Hollywood. He made his acting debut in 1975 as "Big Foot" in The Six Million Dollar Man. Andre enjoyed the experience and went on to appear in television shows including B.J. and the Bear, The Fall Guy and The Greatest American Hero, and movies such as Conan the Destroyer, Micki and Maude, and Trading Mom. His favorite role, and the one for which he is best remembered, was the lovable giant "Fezzik" in Rob Reiner's classic The Princess Bride.
Andre's last television appearance was on a celebration of 20 years of NWA/WCW wrestling on TBS. ....André was mentioned in the 1974 Guinness Book of World Records as the highest-paid wrestler in history to that time. He had earned US$400,000 in one year during the early 1970s.
Roussimoff died in his sleep of congestive heart failure on the night of January 27, 1993, in a Paris hotel room. He was in Paris to attend the funeral of his father. Roussimoff's body was cremated according to his wishes and his ashes were scattered at his ranch in Ellerbe, North Carolina.
In a eulogy after his death, William Goldman, the author of the novel and the screenplay of The Princess Bride, wrote in his nonfiction work Which Lie Did I Tell? that André was one of the gentlest and most generous people he ever knew. Whenever André treated someone to a meal in a restaurant he would pay, but he would also insist on paying when he was a guest. After one meal, Arnold Schwarzenegger had quietly moved to the cashier to pay before André could, but then found himself being physically lifted, carried from his table, and deposited on top of his car by André and Wilt Chamberlain.
ANDRE'S MOVE SET
Double underhook suplex
K. Y. Wakamatsu
"The Eighth Wonder of the World"
Championships and accomplishments
Championship Wrestling from Florida
NWA Florida Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Dusty Rhodes
International Pro Wrestling
IWA World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Michael Nador
New Japan Pro Wrestling
International Wrestling Grand Prix (1985)
MSG League (1982)
MSG Tag League (1981) – with Rene Goulet
Sagawa Express Cup (1986)
NWA United States Tag Team Championship (Tri-State version) (1 time) – with Dusty Rhodes
Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum
Class of 2002
Pro Wrestling Illustrated
PWI Most Popular Wrestler of the Year (1977, 1982)
PWI Match of the Year (1981) vs. Killer Khan on 2 May
PWI Match of the Year (1988) vs. Hulk Hogan at The Main Event
PWI Most Hated Wrestler of the Year (1988)
PWI Editor's Award (1993)
PWI ranked him #3 in the PWI Years in 2003
Stampede Wrestling Hall of Fame
World Championship Wrestling (Australia)
NWA Austra-Asian Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Ron Miller
World Wrestling Federation
WWF Championship (1 time)
WWF Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Haku
WWF Hall of Fame (Class of 1993 - inaugural inductee)
Slammy Award for Bobby "The Brain" Heenan Scholarship Award (1987) with Haku, Tama, Hercules, King Kong Bundy, and Harley Race
Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)