Welcome back to another edition of The Wrestling Review Corner, and this week I’m going to delve into the life of Andre The Giant. I watched this brilliant little 45 minute film on his life and career on YouTube and here is what I learned.
Now I’ve never been a huge fan of the guy because he was way before my time, but I have respect for what he brought to the business. So many of the people that I idolise speak so highly of him, so it’s hard not to show him some love. I didn’t even know he was French. That’s how little I knew! I got to learn a lot about his childhood and background, fascinating stuff. He was insanely large even as a teenager, and seemed destined to work as a farm hand or a factory labourer dreaming of escape. He turned down the offer to play rugby because it didn’t interest him – there is something we have in common! He was almost drafted into the army but he was literally too big to serve.
A French Canadian star taught Andre about pro wrestling and brought him over to North America after hearing about his freakishness. However, he was made to wait as the big man took on the challenge of Japan first. He was diagnosed with an aggressive type of gigantism, and simply wouldn’t stop growing. When he joined the McMahon’s and the WWF and reached the big time, he was prone to excessive alcoholism, which was somewhat glorified in this film (probably my only criticism) – However, it was interesting to hear about just how much alcohol and food he was capable of consuming, due to his abnormal size. The overall theme of the film was heavily weighted on how inconvenient and hard day-to-day life was for Andre. He also had the knowledge of an early death weighing on his mind, so he understandably lived his life to the fullest every single day.
There were the upsides though. At his peak (and still growing) he was the most recognisable wrestler in the world. Frankly, he was, and still is today one of the most famous sports stars of all time. The disease was starting to rapidly destroy his body from the inside though by this point, and he was ageing and gaining weight noticeably. Towards the end of the story, the film focused on Hogan and Andre at Wrestlemania. I never cared for this match, but I understand the draw of it. I have more respect for it now. Despite being way past his prime, The Giant was there to perform and pass the torch to the man of the future. It was a truly timeless moment.
Andre loved being on the road, performing and having a good time. He refused to stop wrestling, despite being on borrowed time, ala Ric Flair today. His Carolina ranch provided him peace while he was off the road, and that was where he chose to spend his final days. He died at the tragically young age of 46. The many emotional interviews peppered throughout the piece were topped by his close personal friend Tim White, who many of you may remember for being a referee in the WWF during the Attitude Era. His account of their friendship and Andre’s passing was a perfect summary of the message behind this documentary.
Overall, it was a really moving education on the life of one of the biggest draws in wrestling history. I never really appreciated Andre The Giant enough until I watched this. I recommend you do the same, if you get the chance.
Thanks for reading.