Remembering The Most Important Match In Wrestlemania History: Hulk Hogan vs Andre The Giant
Hulk Hogan and “five star matches” are rarely used in the same sentence – at least from a mechanical and stylistic perspective. At no point in his forty years in the ring has the Hulkster put on a wrestling clinic from a technical point of view. However by no means could one argue against the fact that Hogan was a showman, and that crowds didn’t explode when they heard his theme music, or when he “Hulked up.”
Fans have been treated to a number of great wrestling matches over the 36 years of WrestleMania, from Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin (WM 13), to back-to-back Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (WM 25 & 26), to The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz in the sequel to Tables, Ladders and Chairs (WM 17); but there is one match that set the stage for all of these epic events to take place…
The Most Important Match In History
While Ricky Steamboat’s epic grudge match against Randy “Macho Man” Savage for the Intercontinental Championship topped the review charts from WrestleMania III, it’d be Hogan’s iconic battle against his former friend, Andre the Giant, for the WWF Heavyweight Championship, that’d become the most important match in professional wrestling history. With two WrestleManias in the books, it’d be the third installment that would finally put Vince McMahon’s vision into the mainstream spotlight for good.
David vs Goliath
Although he was 40 years old at the time, and lumbering around the ring on two bad legs that could crumple at a moment’s notice from holding up his 520-pound frame, Andre was still seen as the true Goliath of the wrestling industry, and Hogan would play the role of David. In front of a then record crowd of 93,173 at the Pontiac Silverdome – and millions of fans watching worldwide – the two former best friends would engage in a battle that would go down in wrestling history.
For the most part, over the course of fifteen years with the WWF, Andre would enter the ring to cheering fans, but on the night of March 29, 1987, fans would pelt him and his manager Bobby Heenan with boos, and even garbage. Hogan, his opponent, would walk to the ring to a deafening chorus of cheers a short time later.
Setting The Benchmark For The Future
With the crowd playing into every move that both wrestlers would make throughout the twelve minute match – from clubbing blows, to failed body slam attempts, to a controversial three count on a pin-attempt by Andre, which could have ended the match – the main event of WrestleMania III would set the benchmark for future wrestling PPV events.
While Hogan would have to carry Andre through most of the slow-paced match mainly filled with kicks, punches and chops, the crowd and the announcers would eat up every single move. Then IT happened. For years before and years after, Hulkamaniacs would help Hogan find a second or even sometimes a third wind, and on this night it was no different – except the level of intensity and energy would be multiplied by 93,000 as Hogan would not only body slam his opponent, but also hit him with his patented iconic leg drop. These tactics would eventually result in a three count – something that Andre hadn’t heard in fifteen years.
The Mount Rushmore Of Wrestling
Hogan and Andre would meet again at WrestleMania IV, but the sequel is hardly worth talking about. While Andre would eventually retire in late-1990, and sadly pass away in 1993, Hogan would continue to highlight future WrestleMania events in matches against The Ultimate Warrior, and his classic Icon vs. Icon match against The Rock at WrestleMania X8.
When you consider the Mount Rushmore of wrestling, there are a number of names that could arguably be placed among the greatest performers of all time. However on the night of March 29, 1987, Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan would rightfully etch their places among the best, and set the bar for generations of wrestlers to follow.