Call him the “Boss” or call him the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” no matter what, Andre has
always been the uncrowned world champion of fan’s hearts and owned the respect of his
peers. Until his last days traveling through Japan, Andre had always given one-hundred
percent in the ring. He stood over seven foot and weighed an astonishing 400-plus
pounds. In a crowd, he could easily be picked out and was always the center of attention.
Andre was a legend on the mat. He was an idol in the minds of all who saw him live or even
watched him walk by. As the “Giant,” he was larger than life.
Andre was wrestling’s greatest big man and the sport’s biggest draw. Promoters could not
give Andre a wrestling championship because he was booked nearly every day of the year
in a different city each night. If Andre was to win a regional title, when would he be back to
defend it? Six-months, maybe? Andre would be back when the next tour came around. In
truth, he was bigger than any regional championship. Many wondered what it would have
been if Andre ruled the heavyweight ranks with a major World Title claim. Despite the
“rules,” promoters gave the Giant several title victories. More importantly, Andre was
booked mostly in battle royal main events. He wasn’t nicknamed the “Battle Royal
Champion” for no reason. Simply, he could not be beaten. He was not beaten. In an
amazing feat of strength, several wrestlers did bodyslam Andre in his career. Three of
them were Chris Taylor, Harley Race and Hulk Hogan. That was an accomplishment in the
sport itself. Actual pinfalls were another thing.
Andre was born on May 19, 1946 in Grenoble, France. Reports were that he stood 6’10’’
and weighed over 300 pounds by age 20. Andre made his pro-debut in Paris in 1964, and
news of his size and strength began to make American wires in 1967. Andre was then
known as Jean Ferre. Francois Valois, longtime Canadian wrestler, assisted Ferre upon
his arrival to Quebec in 1971. Valois trained Ferre and helped him adopt a more North
American style. The trainer accompanied him to his first match and became his road
In 1973 and into early ’74, Andre was competing as “Andrew the Giant” and was often billed
as being discovered by Edouard Carpentier. It was through Valois that Ferre met with
Vince McMahon Sr., one of the most influential promoters in the United States and one of
the leaders of the WWWF. The northeastern promoter decided to change Ferre’s name to
“Andre the Giant.” The impact of Andre was felt immediately in the U.S. Promoters all the
way through the National Wrestling Alliance beckoned for an appearance.
In 1974, Andre the Giant won the first annual, 22-man, two-ring, Houston Battle Royal. A
year later, he returned to win it again. Another $22,000 was added to his bank account.
The Washington Redskins, Tim Temmerario, and Joe Theismann looked Andre over in
early July 1975, for a possible spot on the defensive line. News of the scouting was
The Giant made headlines in a wrestler vs. boxer event at Shea Stadium on June 25,
1976. An estimated 32,000 fans witnessed Andre beat boxer, Chuck Wepner in 1:15 of the
3rd round by countout. Also on the card, broadcast live on closed circuit television in New
York, was the famous match between Antonio Inoki and Muhammad Ali from Tokyo. Andre
won a tough, early 1978, 11-man battle royal in Tacoma, Washington. He teamed with
Bruiser Brody on March 8, 1979 in Kansas City to beat Bob Sweetan and Siegfried Stanke.
In 1979, Andre teamed with Dusty Rhodes to capture the NWA United States Tag Team
Title in Louisiana. Later in the year, due to commitments throughout the world, Andre was
unable to return to defend his claim. Promoters allowed Rhodes to pick another partner.
He did…the Spoiler. Andre met Hulk Hogan for the first time in August 1980 at the
Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. The event took place on the 2nd and was billed as
the “Superdome Spectacular.” Andre and Hogan went to a draw. The WWF rematched the
two a week later in Flushing, New York. Andre beat Hogan.
Andre suffered a broken ankle at the hands of Killer Khan, a Fred Blassie led heel, in
1981. He missed some time, but returned to feud with him. The heated battle between
Andre and Khan culminated in their December 13, 1981 match at the Meadowlands Arena.
Andre won the match and the war. The Giant continued to be booked by WWF, NWA and
AWA Promoters throughout the U.S. He also ventured often to Japan and was one of the
most sought after wrestlers by organizers there. In late 1983, traveled to Vancouver, British
Columbia and won a 15-man battle royal. In January 1984, Hulk Hogan returned to the
WWF and beat the Iron Sheik for the World Title. Andre celebrated with Hogan afterwards
in New York City. He often tagged with the Junkyard Dog in 1985 and his popularity never
He feuded with Big John Studd in 1985 and with the assistance of Hillbilly Jim in October,
Andre chopped Studd’s hair off in the ring. It was payback for an earlier cut he received by
Big John and Ken Patera. He won the April 7, 1986, WrestleMania II Special Battle Royal in
Chicago’s Rosemont Horizon, over nineteen-other competitors. The last eliminated wrestler
was Hart Foundation member, Bret Hart. The match also included NFL Football Players,
William Perry, Jim Covert, Bill Fralic, Ernie Holmes, Harvey Martin and Russ Francis.
After the pay-per-view, Andre traveled to the Orient. On April 25th, he got a pinfall victory
over the legendary Antonio Inoki with the help of Wakamatsu at the Kumamoto City Gym.
In January 1987, Andre and Hulk Hogan were about to make history. The two met during
an edition of Roddy Piper’s “Piper’s Pit” on WWF Television. Piper was present as well was
Jesse “The Body” Ventura. During Hogan’s speech, Andre left the set only to return with
longtime heel manager, Bobby Heenan. The mammoth athlete made a challenge for Hogan’
s World Title at WrestleMania. Hogan didn’t believe it and said that they were friends. The
Giant made him a believer by ripping the shirt off his back. Hogan’s chain was also
broken. The match was signed and set for the main event of WrestleMania III at the Pontiac
Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan.
The home of the Detroit Lions would hold nearly 100,000 fans and on March 29, 1987,
97,000-plus were in attendance. A new indoor attendance record was set in the United
States. The Andre-Hogan main event was the biggest in many years. Neither fans nor
promoters were disappointed in what they received. It was an epic battle. After twelve
minutes, Andre was body-slammed to the mat. Hogan followed up with a legdrop and
scored a three-count to retain his championship. Andre had lost his first match in years.
Aside from the normal storyline of professional wrestling and going into the background of
the match, Andre passed a symbolic “torch” to Hogan the night of WrestleMania. Andre
could have kept his unbeaten streak alive and won the World Title, but instead, he gave
Hogan the biggest win of his career.
To many, Hogan was now unbeatable because he had beaten the biggest man in the
sport. That fact was more important than any title. The initial Survivor Series was also the
fourth pay-per-view in history. Andre teamed with four other men on Thursday, November
26, 1987 at the Richfield Coliseum in Ohio. His teammates were Rick Rude, One Man
Gang, Butch Reed and King Kong Bundy. Hulk Hogan had four other favorites on his side,
but during the match, he himself was counted out and eliminated. After it was all said and
done, Andre was alone with a young Bam Bam Bigelow. The latter was pinned and he was
the sole survivor.
An Andre-Hogan rematch continued to be teased. Into the new year and on an addition of
Saturday Night’s Main Event, Andre attacked Hogan. He choked the champion out before
being restrained by a host of officials. The Giant took a new measure of action when he
formed an alliance with the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase. Heenan remained his
manager, but Andre was more like a hired gun to the second generation star. DiBiase
asked Andre if he would deliver him the World Heavyweight Title. Andre accepted the
proposition. A World Title match was set for February 5, 1988 in Indianapolis on the Main
Event. The telecast was presented live on NBC, a national prime-time broadcast. The
match was another brawl and Hogan was in charge when he went for his famous legdrop off
the ropes. Virgil interfered and held the WWF Champion’s leg. Finally, Hogan broke free
and hit the move. He laid atop of Andre, awaiting the referee’s count. There was none.
Virgil was distracting the ref. Hulk went to straighten things out and Andre got up. The
Giant attacked the champion from behind. A few headbutts landed. A suplex and a pin.
The referee was there and Andre had captured the WWF World Heavyweight Title.
For the first time in his career, he held the top belt in a major promotion. To many
watching, Hogan had his shoulder up before the third count, but nevertheless, Andre
walked out with the belt. Within minutes, Andre handed the title to DiBiase. The task was
completed. DiBiase claimed the World Title. A decision was immediately handed down by
the WWF President, Jack Tunney. Andre was stripped of the belt and DiBiase’s reign was
not recognized. The title was vacant. Another facet of the bout was the situation between
Earl and Dave Hebner, the twin referees. Dave was the assigned man for the contest, but
Earl took his place. Earl counted the pin despite Hogan’s kick out. Tunney decided the title
would be up for grabs in a huge, 14-man tournament. The site would be WrestleMania IV
at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
It was announced on February 12th that Andre and Hogan would meet in the second round
of the tournament. Both competitors would receive a bye due to their previous status as
champion. Andre had an in-ring confrontation with Jim Duggan in Winston-Salem, North
Carolina on March 9, 1988. A feud would begin here, although it was masked by the
approaching WrestleMania IV card. The tournament began on March 27, 1988. Andre
accompanied DiBiase to the ring in the first round for his match with Duggan. Not
surprising anyone, he interfered in the bout and helped DiBiase advance. The second
round began with both DiBiase and Virgil walking to the ring with the Giant.
The match began as soon as Hogan hit the ring. It was as wild as ever imagined and
before it was over, many would be left in shock. In succession, a steel chair smashed
Hogan by DiBiase. Hogan smashed Andre and then Andre smashed Hogan. The referee
called for the bell and the match was over. Decision: A Double Disqualification. Both men
were eliminated from the tournament. The top two favorites to win were gone. It seemed
obvious that it was a ploy by DiBiase and Andre to get rid of Hogan. Take out the number
one seed and walk into the finals. The odds makers were betting on DiBiase to take the
event from that point. Andre’s job was not finished. DiBiase got through the second round
by himself and made it into the finals due to Hogan-Andre double elimination. Randy
Savage went through several opponents to make it to the finals himself. Andre
accompanied DiBiase for the final and was the third man involved in the wrestling. He
grabbed Savage’s leg twice, tripping him. When Savage attempted to land an axe handle
from the top rope to the arena floor, Andre stood between him and DiBiase, blocking him.
Savage went to Elizabeth and told her something. She quickly left and returned, much to
the crowd’s delight, with Hogan. The match was even. But that did not stop Andre’s
involvement. He later pulled Savage through the ropes. Hogan raced around the ring and
attacked Andre full force and the fight was on. DiBiase rolled out of the “Macho Man’s” big
elbow and locked on his sleeper. Hogan interfered and seconds later, DiBiase was pinned.
The title was again lost.
The feud between Andre-DiBiase and Hogan-Savage would dominate the summer. He
faced Hogan in a huge steel cage singles bout on July 31, 1988 in Milwaukee at
WrestleFest. Andre was defeated. The Mega Bucks went against the Mega Powers at
SummerSlam on August 29th in New York. Savage pinned DiBiase to win the event. Andre
soon left DiBiase’s side and returned to the stable of Bobby Heenan. At WrestleMania V in
Atlantic City, he wrestled and was defeated by Jake Roberts. He was disqualified. Andre
was one of a three-man team on August 28th at SummerSlam. Andre, and his partners, the
Twin Towers, lost to Jim Duggan and Demolition. He still sought a title. He met the I-C
Champion, the Ultimate Warrior on November 25, 1989 and lost by disqualification. Andre
battled the champion throughout the country on WWF Tours and even painted his face like
the Warrior on several, special occasions.
Heenan paired him with Haku as the Colossal Connection during the winter of 1989. His
size matched with Haku’s martial arts skills gave the manager a formidable challenger to the
WWF World Tag Title, held by Ax and Smash, Demolition. The duo stopped the champs in
Huntsville on December 13th and captured the Tag Title. The win gave Andre only his
second championship in the WWF. The Colossal Connection remained the top tandem in
the organization until April 1, 1990 in Toronto when Demolition beat them. The match came
at WrestleMania VI before nearly 70,000 at the Skydome.
A tour of Asia began a week after the pay-per-view. Andre joined Shohei “The Giant” Baba
on April 13th to beat Demolition in a non-title bout. The team of Giants was one of the most
spectacular in the history of pro-wrestling, although both of the legends were at the twilight
of their careers. In 1990, Andre began to commute between the U.S. and Japan more
frequently and his appearances in America became almost non-existent.
On September 30th, Andre teamed with yet another legendary grappler in Stan Hansen
against Baba and Abdullah the Butcher in Tokyo. All four men belonged in the hall of
fame. He was victorious with a pin over the latter opponent. The show marked Baba’s 30th
Anniversary in the business. The Dynamite Kid and Johnny Smith were the opponents of
Andre and Baba on November 22, 1990 in Okayama, Japan. He scored the pin on Smith
the win the match.
On November 30, 1990, Andre and Baba teamed again in Obihiro, Japan against the
brother team of Terry and Dory Funk Jr. A double countout was the result. Over a period
of several months, he had competed with and against some of the biggest names in
wrestling over the last twenty-five years. Those appearances were always an event and
despite his slowed ring abilities, they were always respected.
Andre made his final national American showing during the Clash of the Champions event
on September 2, 1992. The event was promoted by World Championship Wrestling in
Atlanta, Georgia. He was honored by the organization and by the fans. Andre again made
appearances in Japan and Mexico. On October 21, 1992, he teamed with Jumbo Tsuruta
and Terry Gordy to beat three former World Champions, Shohei Baba, Stan Hansen and
Dory Funk Jr. before 16,000 fans at Tokyo’s Budokan Hall.
Andre the Giant died on January 27, 1993 in France at the age of 46. A memorial service
was held in America on his AFJ Ranch in North Carolina on Wednesday, February 24, 1993
after his remains were sent in from France. Among the dignitaries who attended the
ceremony were WWF Owner, Vince McMahon Jr., Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Brutus
Beefcake and The Fabulous Moolah. They were just several of the 200. Frenchy and
Jackie Bernard ran the ranch for Andre and it was named for such. AFJ…Andre, Frenchy,
Andre’s ashes were scattered by Frenchy Bernard along the pastures on his land. A&E
Cable Network did a piece on Andre’s life for “Biography” and the show drew the highest
ratings in the program’s long history. Andre was bigger than pro-wrestling on many plains
and a true legend.
-Perennial Battle Royal Champion (Entire Career)
-Co-holder of the NWA United States Tag Team Title (1979) w/ Dusty Rhodes
-Co-holder of the NWA Florida Tag Team Title (1981) w/ Dusty Rhodes
-Won New Japan IWGP Annual Tournament (1985)
-WWF World Heavyweight Title (1988) defeated Hulk Hogan
-Co-holder of the WWF World Tag Team Title (1989) w/ Haku
Copyright 2010 by Tim Hornbaker
Tom Sorensen of the Charlotte Observer wrote a nice piece on Andre following the latter's
death on February 25, 1993.
|Andre the Giant Wrestling History
|PPV Ring Record TV Ring Record Career Record
Legends of Pro Wrestling