Andre the Giant has turned into a mythical character in pro wrestling folklore and urban legend since his passing. Many stories have floated around the Internet and bars on the Giant and I thought it would be fun to take a look back at 10 of Andre stories you may or may not have heard before.
Andre has always been a fun topic in interviews with peers who worked with him or traveled with the big man. We have all heard the stories about Andre’s drinking. They are legendary. I even heard a recount of Andre eating multiple hamburgers in one sitting from my dad who was a bartender in NYC in the 70s. But there are others that are just as interesting whether it be fights, backstage gossip, tales from the ring, or even some crazy anecdotes.
I could have came up with a list of over 20 but I narrowed it down to ten for a few reasons. Some stories are so outlandish that while they may be true they are hard to source. I stuck with stories that had sources whether from books or shoot interviews, etc. I also tried to keep them interesting to wrestling fans and mix them up with some you may have heard and others you haven’t. So here you go. If you thought you knew everything about Andre the Giant, well you might, but hopefully you learn a thing or two from this list.
Andre the Giant called Kamala racist names during a match and paid for it – Kamala has told this story in several interviews lately. Kamala and the Giant had a big rivalry in the early 80s which started with them matching up in territories and ended in the WWE. They made a lot of money together and while that is generally something wrestlers bonded over, Andre was not a fan of Kamala. Andre was in a bad mood and in their first match used a derogatory racist remark towards Kamala. You can probably guess what it was. Kamala was not happy about it and let the Giant know about it.
“Andre wasn’t the friendly guy that he appeared to be. He was real temperamental and had a nasty attitude. When I first started working with him, he called me a (derogatory) name in the ring and I beat him up. After that, I never had another problem with him. A lot of (top guys had problems with Andre too). He would just go out and mop the floor with people. He treated (wrestlers) nasty, and the fans too. Andre would do it just about every night. Guys would watch through the curtain to see what he was going to do.”
Andre the Giant called Bad News Brown/Allen the same racist name and almost paid for it – Well sadly it appears that Andre liked to drop the N-bomb back in his day. It also appears that some of those wrestlers didn’t like it and weren’t intimidated by the Giant’s size. Bad News Brown was one of them and on a tour of Japan, he had about enough of the Giant’s “humor.”
Bad News has told this story in interviews and as the story goes, Andre the comedian was in the back of the bus during a Japan tour telling racist jokes. Andre was loud enough, likely intentional, for Brown to hear it. Brown had enough and ordered the bus drive to stop the bus. Bad News got up and told Andre to step outside. As the story goes Andre refused to step outside knowing how much of a bad dude Bad News was. Hulk Hogan and a few others apparently settled things down and Andre apologized to Brown the next day.
Yet Andre would have his revenge years later.
Andre the Giant defecated on Bad News Brown during a match in Mexico – Andre’s health was deteriorating yet the Giant continued wrestling well past the point he should have retired. Andre and Bad News were on opposing sides of a six-man tag team match in Mexico at this point in Andre’s career and well, things got a little out of hand in old Mexico in 1992. Oliver Hurley wrote about this in his book Wrestling’s 101 Strangest Matches and I also heard this story first hand from the late Bam Bam Bigelow who was also in the match.
Andre had allegedly had stomach cramps and diarrhea all day prior to the match. Here is the rest of the excerpt from Hurley’s book.
“Midway through the bout, he faced off against Bad News Brown Andre was dictating what would happen in the ring, known in the trade as calling the spots. As he threw Bad News into the corner, he muttered to him, ‘Big ass, boss.’ (Andre called everyone ‘boss’.) This verbal shorthand told BNB to remain slumped in the corner as Andre was about to hit him with one of his trademark moves, in which he would turn his back to his opponent, grab hold of the ropes and – there’s no delicate way to put this – thrust his enormous arse into his adversary, supposedly crushing him in the corner.
The combination of the collision and the copious volume of booze he had taken on board meant that, as soon as Andre hit Bad News, he lost any control he once had over his bowels. Liquid faeces dribbled out of his wrestling singlet and all over Bad News Brown’s chest. Bad News fell out of the ring and, resisting the urge to throw up, pelted back to the dressing room. His tag team partners continued the contest without him, once they’d finished laughing at his predicament. As Bad News passed fans on his way backstage, they shouted, ‘Wow, what is that smell?’ having presumably never been confronted by a wrestler covered in diarrhoea before.
Bad News jumped straight into the showers, while still wearing his wrestling trunks and boots, in a bid to clean himself up. But despite having been shat upon by a giant, he remained remarkably sanguine about the incident. ‘I felt sorry for the guy,’ he later said. ‘He was just sick, that’s all.’ The match proved to be one of Andre’s last prior to his death at the age of 46 on 27 January 1993 from congestive heart failure, which was caused by his untreated acromegaly, the glandular disease that resulted in his enormous size.”
Andre the Giant was once recruited by the Washington Redskins in 1976 – The first time I heard this story I called bull. Yet I was able to actually find a story with someone from the Redskins who corroborated the story as fact. Sports Illustrated reported on this in 1982 with confirmation from Redskins Public Relations Director Joe Blair.
Andre’s wrestling colleague George “the Animal” Steele, a former football coach recalls a conversation he had with Vince McMahon, Sr. about the idea of Andre playing for the Redskins. Steele told the story a few years back on a podcast interview.
“And in one of those early conversations, the Washington Redskins wanted to sign Andre the Giant to play football,” Steele said. “And they wanted to sign him to play as a linebacker on field goals and extra points, to stand up and kind of wave like a giant. And it would be great publicity for them and us.
“And because I was a football coach and had played a little bit, Vince Sr. says Jim what do you think about this idea? I says I think it’s absolutely ridiculous. First of all, if you take Andre the Giant – as big and strong as he is – and stuck him in front of me, with his hands in the air waving or something, I’d take his knee out.
“I said first of all, I think you’re making a mockery of the game. And he’s outstretched, he can’t protect himself, I’d cripple him. And I said every guy in the NFL would do that. He has no business doing that. I don’t know if you know that or not, but they had made the offer, and it almost went to signing, and that’s why they didn’t do it. Because it wasn’t the right thing to do for Andre, for wrestling, and really for football.”
For the record another fact you may not have known along the same lines is that the Pittsburgh Steelers tried to recruit Bruno Sammartino.
Andre’s last pro wrestling television appearance in the United States was for WCW – The ultimate betrayal took place in 1992 as Andre was winding down his career. Andre was not on good terms with the WWE. One story I heard is that Andre was very angry at Vince McMahon for being pressured to wrestle at SummerSlam. Remember, Andre came out on crutches at SummerSlam. Whether it was revenge or opportunity, Andre wound up appearing in WCW.
WCW had a big special in 1992 celebrating 20 years of wrestling on TBS. Ted Turner reportedly wanted the special to be a big deal. It was so big that they wound up getting Andre the Giant to appear. Andre didn’t do much here as a matter of a fact it was kind of sad. Andre was on two canes, said a few words on the red carpet, and was later seen in the “VIP room.”
Vince McMahon was apparently very hurt by this appearance. Shane McMahon talked about it in the book Andre the Giant: A Legendary Life. Shane said that his father called Andre and told him that he was deeply hurt by the appearance. Andre allegedly apologized to Vince, not realizing how deeply he hurt him. Shane also said that it upset him that TBS showed Andre on crutches.
Ironic since Vince had no problem putting Andre on television with crutches at SummerSlam 1991. Keep in mind that the Andre book was a WWE project.
Andre the Giant originally turned down WrestleMania 3 – This is another story I read in a few places but didn’t believe it until I saw it in print. According to the story told in Sex, Lies, and Headlocks Vince had to beg Andre to come back to the WWE.
The story goes that Vince called Andre while the Giant was making the Princess Bride movie. Andre told Vince to save his airfare because he didn’t want to wrestle anymore. According to the story, Vince felt that Andre was in a deep depression when he came back because Andre felt that he was ready to die.
Andre had back surgery scheduled in Europe. Vince allegedly persuaded Andre to come back and rehabilitate in his house to get ready for WrestleMania 3. Of course as we all know Andre eventually acquiesced to the boss and took part in arguably the most memorable match in WWE history against Hulk Hogan.
And speaking of Hulk Hogan…
Andre the Giant did not like to work with Hulk Hogan during their 1980 WWE feud – Hulk Hogan wrote about this in his book so take it for it’s worth. However, I did hear stories outside of Hogan’s book about Andre not being a fan of Hulk’s. Here is how Hulk recounted his early memories of working with the Giant.
” Hulk was going around telling people in the locker room that Andre was his hero and that he wanted to surpass him didn’t really get him into good graces with The Giant either.
Andre heard about what Hogan would say about him to the boys in the back and Andre took it as a direct threat.
So whenever they had to wrestle each other, Andre would work very stiff with Hogan and try to end his career but make it look like an accident.
Hulk refused to snitch on Andre however and complain to the head office.
Hulk Hogan would tried to talk to Andre but Andre refused to even speak with him.
Whenever Hulk had to wrestle Andre, Hulk was so scared of him that whenever he would be driving to the building, he would pull his car over and puke because he was so nervous and terrified.
Andre gained respect for Hogan however because no matter how many times Andre would whip beat on Hogan, Hogan never quit and he would never complain about it to the front office.”
Hulk has also claimed that Andre died two days after WrestleMania 3 so take this story for what it’s worth.
Andre the Giant almost drowned Blackjack Mulligan and Dick Murdoch – Ric Flair told the story in his book of a night of partying that went very wrong for Murdoch and Mulligan. According to Flair, one of the Texans tried to sucker punch the Giant and wound up getting water boarded for it. The incident occurred at Murdoch’s birthday party. Andre grabbed them both, dragged them to the beach, and repeatedly dunked their heads in the water almost drowning them.
Andre the Giant fired the Freebirds from the WWE in 1984 – This is a fun story as told by Bret Hart in an interview about Andre’s life. Remember the incredibly short stint in the WWE by the Freebirds in 1984? I do and always wondered why it ended so fast. According to Hart, it was all due to Andre the Giant.
In 1984, the Freebirds – Michael Hayes, Buddy Roberts and Terry Gordy-were recruited by the company, largely because they fit into the rock ’n’ roll image owner Vince McMahon was trying to cultivate. “One time, the Freebirds were so drunk, they couldn’t get out of the plane,” Hart claims. “They got to the building at 9 or 9:30, in the middle of a show, and Andre was pissed off by their lack of professionalism. While they were getting dressed, he told them, ‘You guys are fired.’”
When the Freebirds protested that Andre was ineligible to make personnel decisions, he allegedly countered, “We’ll see tomorrow if you’re gone or I’m gone.”
“The next day,” Hart continues, “the Freebirds were gone. So I guess Andre could fire you.”
Jerry Lawler killed Andre the Giant’s career according to Vince McMahon, Sr. – The King actually tells this story in his autobiography and WWE.com actually did a story about it on their website. Back in the 1970s and early 80s, Vince used to book Andre out to territories on one condition. The Giant could not lose. Lawler booked Andre for a few dates and wound up beating him…by count out in Louisville. Lawler sent legendary pro wrestling photographer Bill Apter the pictures of the match and Apter wound up publishing the pictures with a story (see more pictures here) about Lawler beating Andre and Vince was furious!
“It comes out with this big headline: ‘The night a midget beat Andre the Giant,’ ” Jerry “The King” Lawler remembered with a laugh. “At that time, nobody beat Andre the Giant, but the story made it look like I pinned Andre.”
According to WWE.com, the magazine caused such outrage in the sports-entertainment industry that Mr. McMahon’s father, Vincent J. McMahon, brought it up as a serious point of contention in that year’s National Wrestling Alliance convention. McMahon was so irate that both Apter and Lawler nearly lost the ability to promote Andre, but things got smoothed over in a future issue.
“To rectify things, we came out with another cover that said: ‘Andre the Giant: Wrestling’s Only Undefeated Superstar,’ ” Apter explained.”
According to Lawler, Vince called Apter and told him that the story “had killed Andre the Giant’s career.” The magazine later published an article touting Andre as the world’s only undefeated wrestling star to make peace with Vince.
ill Dundee’s version of the night. Dundee allegedly said that Lawler asked Andre what he wanted to do and Andre replied, “What do you wanna do boss?” Lawler replied, “Well I’d like to beat you.” Andre agreed and they came up with a finish where it took 30 guys to beat down Andre in order for Lawler to get the win. Dundee claimed that Lawler pinned Andre but enough witnesses say that it was only a count out win.
Regardless, it killed the Giant’s career according to Vince McMahon.
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