|André the Giant|
|Ring Names|| André Roussimoff|
André the Giant
|Height||7 ft 4 in (2.24 m)|
|Weight||500 lb (230 kg)|
|Date of birth||May 19, 1946|
|Place of birth||Coulommiers, France|
|Date of death|
|Place of death|
|Trainer|| Frank Valois|
André René Roussimoff (born May 19, 1946), best known as André the Giant, is a retired French professional wrestler and actor. He is recognized from his role as Fezzik in the classic movie The Princess Bride. His great size is a result of gigantism, and led to him being dubbed "The Eighth Wonder of the World".
André René Roussimoff was born in Coulommiers, France, of Bulgarian and Polish descent. He was the third of five children. As a child, he was referred to by his parents as Dédé and showed no signs of the size that he would reach. Roussimoff was a good student but left school after 8th grade because he did not feel having a high school education was necessary to live and work on a farm that was not his own. As an adolescent, he worked on the farm, completed an apprenticeship in woodworking, then worked in a factory that manufactured engines for hay balers, but none of these jobs brought him any satisfaction.
Professional wrestling careerEdit
André was discovered by Lord Alfred Hayes, a wrestling promoter, and left home as a teenager to become a wrestler in Paris. He worked as a mover by day and trained in the ring at night — though few wrestlers were willing to train with anyone so large and strong. In 1964, Édouard Carpentier, a well-known French wrestler, agreed to train with him. Roussimoff was billed as "Géant Ferré", the name of a legendary French lumberjack, and quickly made a name for himself. For the next few years, he wrestled in arenas and carnivals in Europe, New Zealand, and Africa.
In 1969, Carpentier offered to bring Roussimoff to North America, but he had already signed to wrestle in International Pro Wrestling in Japan, where he was billed as "Monster Roussimoff".
After wrestling in Japan, Roussimoff followed Carpentier to Montreal, Canada, where he was an immediate success. However, promoters eventually ran out of plausible opponents to fight him and, as his novelty wore off, gate receipts dwindled. Desperate, Carpentier reached out to Vincent J. McMahon and his son, Vince McMahon, Jr. for help. They suggested for Roussimoff a travel-intensive schedule so he would not wear out his welcome in any one area. They decided to change his name to "André the Giant".
World Wrestling FederationEdit
Face run (1973–1987)Edit
On 26 March 1973, André made his WWF debut as a "face", defeating Buddy Wolfe in New York's Madison Square Garden.
By the time Vince McMahon, Jr. began to expand his promotion to the national level in the early 1980s, André wrestled exclusively for WWF in the USA, while still holding international engagements. André was mentioned in the 1974 Guinness Book of World Records as the highest paid wrestler in history up to that time. He had earned $400,000 in one year alone during the early 1970s.
André was one of WWF's most beloved "babyfaces" throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. As such, Gorilla Monsoon insisted that André was never defeated for 15 years by pinfall or submission prior to WrestleMania III. This, however, is not true. André actually had lost cleanly in matches outside of the parameters of WWF; a pinfall loss in Mexico to Canek in 1984 and in Japan a submission loss to Antonio Inoki in 1986. He also went sixty-minute time limit draws with the two other major world champions of the day, Harley Race and Nick Bockwinkel.
One of André's feuds pitted him against the Mongolian terror Killer Khan, who was managed by Freddie Blassie. According to the storyline, Khan had snapped André's ankle during a match in Rochester, New York by leaping off the top rope and crashing down upon it with his knee-drop. After a stay at Beth-Israel Hospital in Boston, André returned with payback on his mind. On 14 November 1981 at the Philadelphia Spectrum, André exacted revenge by destroying Khan in what was billed as a "Mongolian Stretcher Match", in which the loser must be taken to the dressing room on a stretcher. In reality, André had broken his ankle getting out of bed one morning. The injury and subsequent rehabilitation was worked into the existing André/Khan storyline.
Another feud involved a man who considered himself to be "the true giant" of wrestling: Big John Studd. Throughout the early to mid-1980s, André and Studd fought all over the world, battling to try and determine who the real giant of wrestling was. In December 1984, Studd took the feud to a new level, when he and partner Ken Patera knocked out André during a televised tag team match and proceeded to cut off André's hair. After gaining revenge on Patera, André met Studd in a "Body Slam Challenge" at the first WrestleMania, held March 31, 1985 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. André slammed Studd to win the match and collect the $15,000 prize, then proceeded to throw cash to the fans before having the bag stolen from him by Studd's manager, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan.
The following year, at WrestleMania 2 on 7 April 1986, André continued to display his dominance by winning a twenty-man battle royal that featured top NFL stars and wrestlers. André last eliminated Bret Hart to win the contest. Afterward, André continued his feud with Studd and King Kong Bundy. André was suspended after a no-show (in reality, he needed time off to film The Princess Bride); he returned under a mask as "The Giant Machine" part of a team with "Big Machine" (Robert Windham) and "Super Machine" (Bill Eadie) (The Machines gimmick was copied from New Japan Pro Wrestling character "Super Strong Machine", played by Japanese wrestler Junji Hirata). Soon afterward, Giant Machine disappeared, and André was reinstated, to the approval of Bobby "The Brain" Heenan.
Heel run (1987–1990)Edit
Feuding Hulk Hogan and WWF Champion
- Main article: WrestleMania III
André was turned heel in 1987 so that he could face Hulk Hogan for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship in the main event of WrestleMania III. In early 1987, Hogan was presented a trophy for being the WWF World Heavyweight Champion for three years. André came out to congratulate him. Shortly afterward, André was presented a slightly smaller trophy for being "undefeated in WWF for fifteen years." In actuality, André had suffered a handful of countout and disqualification losses in WWF but had never been pinned or forced to submit in a WWF ring. Hogan came out to congratulate André and ended up being the focal point of the interview. A visibly annoyed André walked out in the midst of Hogan's speech. Then, on an edition of "Piper's Pit", Hogan was confronted by Bobby Heenan. Heenan announced that his new protege was André, who then challenged Hogan to a title match at WrestleMania III, ripping the t-shirt and crucifix from Hogan.
At WrestleMania III, he was billed at 525 lb (238 kg), and the stress of that immense weight on his bones and joints resulted in constant pain. After recent back surgery, he was also wearing a brace underneath his wrestling singlet. Hogan won the match after body slamming André, followed by Hogan's running leg drop finisher. Years later, Hogan claimed that André was so heavy, he felt more like 700 lb (320 kg), and that he actually tore his latissimus dorsi muscle slamming him. Another famous story about the match is that no one knew if André would lose the match. André had agreed to lose the match some time before, mostly for health reasons, though he almost pinned Hogan (albeit unintentionally) in the early goings of the match. Contrary to popular belief, it was not the first time that Hogan had successfully bodyslammed André in a WWF match. A then-heel Hogan bodyslammed a then-face André early in a match in Hamburg, Pennsylvania on 13 September 1980, though André was much lighter and more athletic at the time. This, of course, took place back in the territorial days of wrestling three years before WWF began its national expansion (André had also previously allowed Harley Race, Kamala, and Stan Hansen to slam him.) By the time WrestleMania III had rolled around, the WWF had gone national, giving more meaning to the André-Hogan match that took place then. The feud between André and Hogan simmered during the summer of 1987, even as Roussimoff's health declined. The feud would begin heating up again when each wrestler was named the captain of rival teams at the inaugural Survivor Series event. André's team won the main event after André pinned Bam Bam Bigelow.
In the meantime, "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase failed to persuade Hogan to sell him the WWF World Championship. After failing to defeat Hogan in a subsequent series of matches, DiBiase turned to André to win it for him. Acting as his hired gun, André won the WWF title from Hogan on 5 February 1988 in a match where it was later revealed appointed referee Dave Hebner was "detained backstage", and a replacement who DiBiase paid to get plastic surgery to look like Dave (in reality, his twin brother Earl Hebner), made a three count on Hogan while his shoulders were off the mat. After winning, André "sold" the title to DiBiase; the transaction was declared invalid by then-WWF President Jack Tunney and the title was vacated. This was shown on WWF's NBC program The Main Event. At WrestleMania IV, André and Hulk Hogan fought to a double disqualification in a WWF title tournament match (with the idea in the storyline saying that André was again working on DiBiase's behalf in giving DiBiase a clearer path in the tournament). Afterward, André and Hogan's feud died down after a steel cage match held at WrestleFest on 31 July 1988 in Milwaukee. He and DiBiase also wrestled Hogan and Randy "Macho Man" Savage in the main event of SummerSlam; the DiBiase-André team lost, despite apparently having referee Jesse "the Body" Ventura on their side.
WrestleMania VI; The Colossal ConnectionEdit
André's next major feud was against Jake "The Snake" Roberts. In this storyline, it was said André was deathly afraid of snakes, something Roberts exposed on Saturday Night's Main Event when he threw his snake, Damien, on the frightened André; as a result, André suffered a kayfabe mild heart attack and vowed revenge. During the next few weeks, Roberts frequently walked to ringside during André's matches, causing him to run from the ring in fright (since he knew what was inside the bag). Throughout their feud (which culminated at WrestleMania V), Roberts constantly used Damien to gain a psychological edge over the much larger and stronger André.
In 1989, André and the returning Big John Studd briefly reprized their feud, this time with Studd as a face and André as the heel. Later, during the late summer and fall of 1989, André engaged in a brief feud (almost entirely consisting of untelevised events, save for a SNME title defense) with then-Intercontinental champion The Ultimate Warrior. The younger Warrior, perceived as the next big WWF star, regularly squashed the aging André in an attempt to showcase his star quality and promote him as the "next big thing".
André won the World Tag Team Championship with his partner Haku (known collectively as The Colossal Connection) from Demolition on 13 December 1989. Managed by Bobby Heenan, they lost their titles at WrestleMania VI back to Demolition on 1 April 1990. After the match, a furious Heenan berates and slaps André clear in the face; he responded by knocking Heenan out, much to the delight of the fans, and has Haku out of his way to the exit. André went into the match as a heel, but left as a face.
André continued to make appearances in the WWF throughout 1990 and 1991. He was scheduled to appear in the 1991 Royal Rumble battle royal but ultimately did not feature in the PPV at all. He came to the aid of The Big Bossman in his WrestleMania VII match against Mr. Perfect. His last major appearance was at SummerSlam in 1991, where he seconded The Bushwhackers in their match against The Natural Disasters. He also made an appearance later in the year to help The British Bulldog who had just won a Battle Royal in London.
On 25 January 2005 WWE released André The Giant, a DVD focusing on the career of André. The DVD is a reissue of the out-of-print André The Giant VHS made by Coliseum Video in 1985, with commentary by Michael Cole and Tazz replacing Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura's commentary on his WrestleMania match with Big John Studd. The video is hosted by Lord Alfred Hayes. Later matches, including André's battles against Hulk Hogan while a heel, are not included on this DVD.
His last U.S. television appearance was in a brief interview on World Championship Wrestling's Clash of the Champions XX special that aired on TBS on 2 September 1992. In 2006, André briefly signed a contract with the WWE to appear in tag team matches with The Great Khali, but health issues ultimately prevented him from appearing outside of a few house shows.
All Japan Pro Wrestling (1990-1992)Edit
André branched out into acting in the 1970s and 1980s, making his acting debut playing a Sasquatch ("Bigfoot") on the 1970s television series The Six Million Dollar Man. He went on to appear in other television shows, including The Greatest American Hero, B.J. and the Bear], and The Fall Guy. He also participated in an episode of Zorro.
Towards the end of his career, André also starred in several movies. He had an uncredited appearance in the 1984 film — Conan the Destroyer, as Dagoth, the resurrected horned giant god who is killed by Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger). But he appeared most notably as Fezzik (his favorite role) in the 1987 film The Princess Bride. Both the film and Andre's performance have retained a devoted following.
In his final film, he appeared in something of a cameo role as a circus giant in the comedy Trading Mom.
André was the inspiration for the 1998 film My Giant, written by his friend Billy Crystal, whom he had met during the filming of The Princess Bride.
Paul Wight, better known as The Big Show, more similar in body structure to André than any other wrestler since André's death, was originally billed as the son of André the Giant during his stint in WCW (when he was known as simply The Giant) despite no biological relation. While also suffering from acromegaly, Wight did get surgery on his pituitary gland in the early 1990s, which successfully halted the progress of his condition. The former wrestler Giant González suffered from problems similar to those that André has.
André is cited and impersonated in the comedy film I Love You, Man. He is also cited in the Eminem song "Crack a Bottle" in the lyrics "Back with Andre the Giant, mister elephant tusk, picture us and you'll be another one to bite the dust". Andre is also cited in the movie The 40 Year Old Virgin when someone quotes a woman he dated "had hands like Andre The Giant."
The OBEY brand icon originated from a stencil that artist Shepard Fairey had created based upon a photo of Andre the Giant that Fairey had found in a newspaper.
Capcom's video game character Hugo (known as Andore in Final Fight) is based on him. André appears himself as a game boss, along with Ted DiBiase, in the 1989 arcade game WWF Superstars.
Roussimoff had one daughter, Robin Christensen, who was born in 1979.
The disease that granted him his immense size eventually began to take its toll on his body. By the late 1980s, André was in constant, near-crippling pain, and his heart struggled to pump blood throughout his massive body.
According to William Goldman, author of The Princess Bride and its respective screenplay, André was having such terrible back pain during the filming of the movie that in the first shooting of a scene where Robin Wright drops about one foot and is caught by André, he fell to one knee and almost dropped her.
In the A&E documentary, Biography, Arnold Skaaland mentions how André wished he could see a Broadway play. Arnold offered to buy tickets, but André then passed up the opportunity, citing how he was too big for the seats and that people behind him would not be able to see. This was cited as a principal reason for why André frequented taverns more than anywhere else.
He has been unofficially crowned "The Greatest Drunk on Earth" for once consuming 119 12-ounce beers in 6 hours. On an episode of WWE's Legends of Wrestling, Mike Graham claimed that André once drank 197 16-ounce beers in one sitting, which was confirmed by Dusty Rhodes. Such feats can be attributed to his much larger than usual size, meaning it would take higher volumes of liquor to inebriate him. In her autobiography, The Fabulous Moolah alleges that André drank 327 beers and passed out in a hotel bar in Reading, Pennsylvania, and because the staff could not move him, they had to leave him there until he regained consciousness.
André was arrested by the Linn County, Iowa sheriff in August 1989 and charged with assault after the 540 lb (240 kg) wrestler allegedly roughed up a local TV cameraman.
- Finishing moves
- Double underhook suplex
- Elbow drop pin
- Kneeling belly to belly piledriver
- Sit-down splash
- Standing splash
- Signature moves
- Big boot
- Body slam
- "The 8th Wonder of the World"
- "The Immovable Object"
- Entrance themes
Championships and accomplishmentsEdit
- Championship Wrestling from Florida
- International Pro Wrestling
- IWA World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Michael Nader
- NWA Tri-State
- NWA United States Tag Team Championship (Tri-State version) (1 time) – with Dusty Rhodes
- Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Stampede Wrestling
- World Championship Wrestling (Australia)
- World Wrestling Federation
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
- Feud of the Year (1981) vs. Killer Khan
- Most Embarrassing Wrestler (1989)
- Worst Feud of the Year (1984) vs. Big John Studd
- Worst Feud of the Year (1989) vs. The Ultimate Warrior
- Worst Worked Match of the Year (1987) vs. Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III
- Worst Worked Match of the Year (1989) vs. The Ultimate Warrior on 31 October
- Worst Tag Team (1990, 1991) with Giant Baba
- Worst Wrestler (1989, 1991, 1992)
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)
- Casse tête chinois pour le judoka (1967)
- The Six Million Dollar Man - "The Secret of Bigfoot II and I" (1976), Bigfoot
- B. J. and the Bear]' - "Snow White and the Seven Lady Truckers" (1981), Manny Felcher
- The Greatest American Hero - "Heaven Is in Your Genes" (1983), Monster
- André makes an appearance in "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough" music video by Cyndi Lauper, along with several other 80s icon wrestlers like Rowdy Roddy Piper.
- Conan the Destroyer (1984), Dagoth (uncredited)
- Micki + Maude (1984), Himself
- I Like to Hurt People (1985), Himself
- The Princess Bride (1987), Fezzik
- The Mommy Market (1994), Circus Giant
- Symphorien (197?), French sitcom on Quebec television
- Les Brillants (198?), French sitcom on Quebec television