Welcome to the first ever post on the WWE Hall of Famers Blog!
What better way to kick things off this series than talking about it's inaugural inductee: Andre The Giant!
Real Name: Andre Rene Roussimoff
Birthday: May 19,1946
Death: January 27,1993
Weight: 528 lbs
Trained by: Frank Valois
Retired: December 4,1992
Notable Titles Held:
WWF World Heavyweight Championship
WWF World Tag-Team Championships
NWA Florida Tag-Team Championships
IWA World Tag-Team Championships
Austria-Asian Tag-Team Championships
International Wrestling Grand Prix Winner (1985)
MSG League Winner (1982)
MSG Tag League Winner (1981)
Sagawa Express Cup Winner (1986)
PWI Most Popular Wrestler of the Year (1977,1982)
PWI Match of the Year (1981 & 1988)
Notable Promotions Wrestled:
WWE (fka: WWF)
Championship Wrestling From Florida
Andre was born in Grenoble,France to parents: Boris and Mariann Roussimoff, a couple of Bulgarian and Polish ancestry. He had already showcased signs of gigantism at an early age, by 12 years old he was already standing at 6'3'' and weighs in at 208 lbs. He spent years working at his father's farm and according to his brother, Jacques, was able to do work capable of three men.
At the age of 17 Andre moved to Paris and was taught professional wrestling and trained by French-Canadian wrestler & promoter: Frank Valois. Andre was first billed as "Geant Ferre" a named based on the French folk hero: Grand Ferre. He began wrestling in Paris and nearby areas, Valois would also become Andre's business manager and adviser, because of this he was able to wrestle on other countries as well becoming an attraction in the UK,Germany,Australia,New Zealand,and Africa.
In 1970 he made his debut in Japan as "Monster Roussimoff" and later on would become a huge name in Montreal regularly selling out the Montreal Forum. He defeated Adnan Al-Kaissie (aka General Adnan) in a high profile match in Baghdad in 1971. In 1972 Andre found himself competing for Verne Gagne's AWA.
Andre would then find himself working for the WWWF under the guide of Vince McMahon Sr. It was Vince Sr. who suggested to Andre & Valois that he should be booked as a dominant monster rather than an athletic big man which Andre was capable of in his early years, doing dropkicks and such. He was now known as "Andre the Giant."
Throughout the 70's Andre was one of the biggest stars in the WWF. He was a beloved fan favorite and had multiple notable feuds with other fellow big men like Gorilla Monsoon,Ernie Ladd,Killer Khan,and Big John Studd. During this time he was billed as being "undefeated" but in reality, Andre suffered pin fall and submission losses to wrestlers such as El Canek in Mexico and Antonio Inoki in Japan. He also had 60 minute time limit draws with World Champions: Harley Race and Nick Bockwinkel.
Let's skip forward in 1987 where Andre turned his back on the fans and sided with the dastardly manager: Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and began his legendary feud with Hulk Hogan! At March 29,1983, WrestleMania 3, a crowd of 93,173 in Pontiac Silverdome witnessed the biggest and most high profile wrestling match in history that is Hogan vs Andre for the WWF Championship! This match changed not only WWE but the wrestling business forever and it's impact is still being felt to this day with the "larger than life" feeling with a lot of big time matches!
He wasn't able to win the big one at WrestleMania but at an episode of Saturday Night's Main Event at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit where Andre defeated Hogan to win the WWF Championship! He had the unfortunate honor however of being the shortest reigning World Champion in history as minutes after he won the belt, he "sold" it to Ted DiBiase.
Andre would find tag-team success in the WWF with Haku forming the Colossal Connection. They won the Tag Titles from Demolition and held them for 109 days before dropping them right back to said team.
Till his final years Andre continued doing what he loved and that was wrestling. He mainly wrestled in AJPW usually in 6 Man Tag-Team matches with his good friend: Giant Baba. He also wrestled in Mexico during his final years.
Sadly Andre passed away in his sleep on January 27,1993. The wrestling world mourned the loss of a legend and thus the WWE Hall of Fame was born.
Was Andre a good technical wrestler? No. Was he pulling off 5 Star matches left and right? No. But he did not need to because he was able to do the most important thing in wrestling in my opinion and that was: to draw.
Just put Andre in a wrestling card and you're assured of a sell out, especially in his prime he was the biggest box office attraction in all of wrestling and that to me instantly makes you a legend!
But he wasn't a slouch in the ring either, in his younger years Andre was able to do things other big men weren't able to in his day. He was able to pull off classic matches with renonwed wrestlers like Harley Race,Nick Bockwinkel,Dusty Rhodes,and Antonio Inoki among many others!
Sure in his final years he was a shell of his former self, but he still drew crowds and money than a lot of what some top wrestlers today can draw.
He was certainly deserving of getting the honor of being the inaugural inductee in the WWE Hall of Fame!
*He was unofficially crowned "the world's greatest drunk" because legend has it he was able to drink 156 beers in one sitting!
*Despite claiming Hulk Hogan was the first to bodyslam Andre, many wrestlers have managed to do it before him such as Killer Khan being the true first ever.
*His most well known acting role was as "Fezzik" in The Princess Bride.
*In 1974 he was featured in the Guinness Book of World Records as the highest paid wrestler in history at the time. He had earned $400,000 in one year during the early 70's.