Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Andre the Giant: A Brief History

Fantastic stuff from Galley Friend A.W.:

André was billed as being undefeated, which was presumably untrue but functionally valid; he certainly never lost a straight singles match to pinfall or submission during this period. He didn't need to, though — he would elevate his opponents in the audience's eyes just by letting them get in a few good minutes against the giant. As Jerry "the King" Lawler, one of the many local heroes to get the rub from André, put it to Krugman: "He'd let you do anything you wanted in a match. Other than beat him… But if he didn't like you, he'd make you look like crap, and there wasn't anything anyone could do about it." This became a pattern in André's career, the willingness to make his opponent look good, unless he personally disliked the guy. The explanations for this are assorted — that André was protective of his place on top of the food chain, that André respected the tradition of wrestling and detested anyone who didn't — but the result was a legend of André's temperament that was less a story of personality dispute and more like the old tales of the angry and unpredictable Greek gods. And if you were one of the unlucky few whom André decided to smite, well, god help you.
By this time, André was undeniably a megastar. In 1974, the Guinness Book of World Records named him the highest paid professional wrestler, with a one-year take of $400,000. The Washington Redskins offered him a tryout — and even viewed as a publicity stunt, it shows the degree of André's celebrity. He appeared (in costume) onThe Six Million Dollar Man, playing a dastardly Sasquatch. In 1976, on the night that Muhammad Ali fought Japanese pro wrestler Antonio Inoki in a terribly ill-conceived inter-disciplinary match, André fought ham-and-egger Chuck Wepner (the inspiration for the Rocky movies) in Shea Stadium.


E R E said...

I will be forever proud that the Andre The Giant Has A Posse movement sprung from my hometown -- Providence, RI.

(Mr. Fairey's later "efforts" being somewhat less praiseworthy.)

LL said...

I once saw Harley Race pick up and body slam Andre the Giant. Unreal.