Although Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant forever changed the professional wrestling landscape at WrestleMania 3 in front of 93,173* screaming fans (brother), it was certainly not their first rodeo. And outside of the ring, Andre hardly made it easy for Hogan. Here is the true story of their legendary 8-year feud.
Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant – The Early Years
In the spring of 1980, in reversed roles to what would iconically occur seven years later, a face (good guy) Andre the Giant faced a heel (bad guy) Hulk Hogan. Andre the Giant came up victorious in most of those sixteen confrontations, although several of those matches ended with both wrestlers being counted out.
In 1982 and ’83, the pair had a few additional matches, too. This time, however, Andre worked as the heel and Hogan as the face.
In their match on April 4th, 1982, in Montreal, Quebec, Andre won via a DQ finish. The same would occur eight months later, on December 9th in Osaka, Japan.
In May of ’83, Andre and Hogan faced off twice in Japan, with both matches ending in a double countout finish.
It was only a preview of the big things to come.
Role Reversal! Watch Hulk Hogan Working as a Heel Against a Face Andre the Giant in 1980:
Fun fact: Hulk Hogan bodyslammed Andre the Giant not once but twice in a WWE (then WWF) ring before “The slam heard ’round the world!” The first slam occurred at Shea Stadium during Showdown at Shea on August 9, 1980. The heavy-lifting feat would occur one month later in Hamburg, Pennsylvania.
Troubles With Andre
Off-camera, things were not always pleasant between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. In fact, early on, Andre made life hell for Hogan.
“Andre the Giant beat me up every day for the first eight years,” Hulk Hogan shared of this time in his career. “I was so nervous I used to puke on the way to the building.
“Then, after eight years, we became friends. He even started to like me.”
For those first few years of knowing Andre,” Hulk Hogan admits, “I was just another kid who didn’t understand this business. When I finally smartened up and started having respect for this business, from that point on, I started to understand what Andre was all about.
“He loved this business. And he protected it.”
It is not uncommon to hear wrestlers say, “Oh, Andre was arrogant. He did this to me or did that.” But the reality is, there was never a situation where he could ever feel comfortable. He was a giant that legitimately stood seven feet tall, and there was never a chair, bed, toilet, or shower that fit right for him. It was a constant battle.
He lived in a really cruel world,” Hogan shared, bittersweetly.
“If he walked ahead of me at the airport, I heard people say horrible things and make fun of him.
“Once you got to know him, he was a very gracious person with a kind heart. But… he didn’t put up with any B.S.”
Hogan reiterated this during his appearance on the Steve Austin Show, admitting that the main difference between wrestling Andre at Shea Stadium versus wrestling him at WrestleMania III was that they were friends by the time of WrestleMania III, whereas at Shea Stadium, Andre didn’t like Hulk at all.
Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant – Behind The Scenes at WrestleMania III
In a revealing interview on The Voice vs. Hulk Hogan, Hogan shared details on the inner workings behind his encounter with Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III.
Below are the words of Hulk Hogan from this interview:
At WrestleMania III, everybody wanted me to slam him.
“Andre had come off huge back surgery, and he was in a lot of pain.
“‘Andre,’ I said, ‘Dude, your back’s bad. Are we gonna do the slam?
“He goes, ‘I DON’T KNOW.’
“I said, ‘What do you mean?’
“‘Don’t worry, boss. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you.’
“Vince McMahon was very confident that he could get Andre to do what he wanted.
“[Vince] came to my hotel room with a yellow legal pad, and he and I planned out the whole match, which I’d never, never done before. It’d be disrespectful to Andre. I mean, I’d have gotten killed [if he knew I planned out the match with Vince in advance] because Andre always called the matches.
“So I laid it out to Vince. I said, ‘Please, don’t tell him. He’ll break my legs.’
“I’d seen Andre pissed, you know?
So I wrote the slam in there, thinking it would happen early in the match.
“On the day of WrestleMania III, I sat in the dressing room with Andre the whole time. I never really did usually because he drank so much. But for this match, he said, ‘YOU SIT HERE!’
“So I sat next to him. For 8 or 9 hours, because we had to be there so early in the day.
“He drank two quarts of Crown Royal – which was nothing for him – but he wanted me to drink with him. The stuff makes me sick, even to smell it, but I didn’t want to do anything to get him hot. I figured if I had to sit there and drink with him, I’d do the best I could.
“So… I cheated. Whenever he wasn’t not looking, I got rid of it!
“Even [just before] going to the ring, I asked him, ‘Andre, what do you want to do out there? Who’s going to win? Who’s going to lose?
“‘DON’T WORRY, BOSS!’
“When I tried to pick him up [for the bodyslam] in the beginning as I had planned, he sat down on me, and I fell backward with him. So, I kind of thought, ‘Forget about it…’
“[Andre] had a great instinct. He would listen with his heart.
“About three-quarters of the way through the match, the place is rumbling. A wave of people cheering: ‘Hogan! Hogan!’ All of a sudden, out of nowhere: ‘SLAAAM!’
“I went, ‘What-?’
“He yelled at me again, ‘SLAAAM!’
“He came towards me, and I got underneath him and – thank god – I got him. I tore my back, I tore my bicep, tore my delt in three places, but I turned him over.”
Hulk Hogan Bodyslams Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III:
“Andre didn’t have to do that,” Hogan concluded. He did that for the wrestling business. Andre knew it was time to pass the torch.”
Although the relationship between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant started on shaky ground, they became like brothers and would remain friends until Andre’s tragic passing on January 27th, 1993.
The Final Match
Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant would meet in the ring one final time in an untelevised match in March of 1990, shortly before WrestleMania VI. In this match, Hogan teamed with Big Boss Man to defeat Andre and Haku.
On that night, whether they realized it or not, the few lucky thousand fans in attendance witnessed the end of a storied feud.
And while their rivalry was now complete, Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant’s impact on professional wrestling and fans alike will be felt forever.
*There have been numerous claims since WrestleMania III that the quoted attendance figure of 93,173, which established a world record attendance for an indoor event, was false. The real attendance figure was closer to around 78,000.
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