‘The Megapowers, they’ll be exploding later on’
As Gorilla Monsoon told us at ‘Wrestlemania V’. That match with Randy Savage wasn’t the real Mega Powers. It was Hogan and Andre.
That would be Andre Roussimoff. Andre The Giant billed as 7ft 3″ and over 500lbs, was a huge man who dominated all opponents (well, Big John Studd gave him a good run) and stood over the WWF world.
Good job he was an amiable good guy, eh?
The champ, Hulk Hogan, was a money making, arena filling phenomenon. Hulkamania started when he beat Iron Sheik for the title in 1984 and great (and some not so great) wrestlers were thrown at him to defeat.
They tended to be big guys, as this was the WWF, and the year before, Hulk Hogan had fought huge King Kong Bundy at Wrestlemania 2. Soooo…
Upping The Ante With Andre The Giant
Who’s bigger. Andre! It was a big move. And an audacious one.
You thought Hogan was the champ? Yes, he was, but there was always the feeling that he was only at the top of the tree because Andre let him. If only Andre would claim the belt. But he was an easy-going Giant, who had never asked for a championship match.
Who was going to rile him up? Enter Bobby Heenan…
The Set Up
Bobby Heenan was essential to this. The Brain didn’t ‘literally’ brainwash Andre as suggested during commentary, but no other manager, no other WWF character or worker could have turned Andre, got inside his head and made him feel that his career was incomplete without the big gold belt.
The lead up was excellent. Piper’s Pit, Jesse Ventura promising to produce Andre, then challenging Roddy to bring Hogan.
A week later and there they were. Hogan and Andre. Look past Hogan’s rather soap opera acting. The reveal was done very well; firstly Andre gave Hogan the false celebration, telling him three years was a long time to be a champion.
So that when he hit him to challenge for the championship, his stentorian delivery and Hulk’s ‘no, no Andre’ overplaying didn’t matter at all.
And the shocking moment, the ripping off of the shirt, Hogan and Andre changing positions – Hogan usually ripping the shirt off, Andre encroaching on his world.
And the focus on the cross ripped from Hogan’s neck, a desecration of the higher power he seemed to reference – ‘He’s thanking the man upstairs…’ Hogan and Andre were on.
Hulk Hogan Vs Andre The Giant
Let’s get this straight from the get-go; Hogan and Andre are not grapplers. Nor catch as catch can fighters. They are personalities who wrestle.
This wasn’t about wrestling. It was about an event. 93,000 at the Pontiac Silverdome. Think they’re were there to see the Can Am Connection? Or Little Tokyo and Lord Littlebrook? Well, some were, but it was this main event that packed them in.
There was genuine threat. How could Hogan beat Andre? The Giant would finish him, surely? Hogan and Andre were so tasty, you could smell it from the mid-card.
The match wasn’t a classic of moves, but it was hot. Heenan, resplendent in his white and gold tux (not waiter’s jacket, Gorilla) wasn’t a feature except in keeping up a commentary of success and worry at ringside.
And this allowed Jesse Ventura to do his job. The colour man isn’t given his due, from his tale of the tape, highlighting the Hulk and Andre’s physical disparity to his grudging admittance that Hogan got the win, he drove the excitement in the match, that this was so important and we were lucky to see it.
Hogan and Andre started well, Hulk talking to him as if was trying to persuade him to back off. That didn’t work, as he tasted a slam and Andre collapsed on him for a two.
Jesse sold it again, asking if it was 3 over and over. Hogan’s back was hurt early too and he seemed in trouble, Andre standing over the fallen champ as if supreme.
Hogan and Andre weighed it beautifully, Andre slamming Hulk so hard he bounced. Andre just glared at him and then casually walked over him.
The pace was slow, but that allowed fans to take in the terrible possibility that Hogan and Andre were going to end with the big man winning.
More trouble for the champ when thrown into the turnbuckle twice; even when he had a mini Hulk Up, he tasted the big boot of Andre to his moustachioed face as he ran in.
The fans must have been wondering what the champ could do.
And Hogan sold so well. A bear hug was an excellent opportunity, he grimaced, gasped and groped around for a way out. And then he started to fade.
The arm fell once…
The arm fell twice…
Hang on, the arm is up! And Hogan’s breaking the hold! Even here though, after some success, he ran into an Andre knife-edge chop that put him down.
We even had a spill to the outside with the headbutt to the ring post spot. Hogan pulled the matting back, Ventura rightly describing it as ‘horrible sportsmanship’, but he couldn’t get Andre up for a piledriver (funnily enough) and the Giant backdrop was horrible too, Hogan just sliding down his back onto the concrete.
And suddenly; a flying clothesline put Andre down, Hogan got him uo to an impressive looking slam to a huge pop and one leg drop later, he was retaining the belt.
Why Was Hulk Hogan Vs Andre the Giant The Best WrestleMania Match Then?
It was an event. It was a first. It seemed impossible.
And yet it happened. And Hogan triumphed. But there was genuine worry that he wouldn’t, the rubbish thrown into the ring during the match showed the heat. As 441Mania said; ‘The match is not good in any way shape or form, but is one I completely appreciate for its historical importance.’
So it wasn’t the best wrestling match. But it was the best wrestling event. Beautifully done. A once is a lifetime event. Except they did it the following year too…
Do you agree? or do you think there is another Best Mania Match of All Time? Why not read Craig Simons article on Bret Hart Vs Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania 13