André the Giant
|André the Giant|
André making his way to the ring in the late 1980s
|Birth name||André René Roussimoff|
19 May 1946|
|Died||27 January 1993
|Cause of death||Congestive heart failure|
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||André Roussimoff
André the Giant
Monster Eiffel Tower
|Billed height||7 ft 4 in (2.24 m)|
|Billed weight||500 lb (230 kg)|
|Billed from||"Grenoble in the French Alps"|
|Trained by||Frank Valois|
He famously feuded with Hulk Hogan, culminating at WrestleMania III. His best-remembered film role was that of Fezzik, the giant in The Princess Bride. His size was a result of gigantism caused by excess growth hormone, which later resulted in acromegaly. It also led to his being called "The Eighth Wonder of the World".
In the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now known as WWE), André was a one-time WWF World Heavyweight Champion and a one-time WWF Tag Team Champion. In 1993, André was the sole inaugural inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Professional wrestling career
- 2.1 Early career
- 2.2 World Wide Wrestling Federation/World Wrestling Federation
- 2.3 All Japan Pro Wrestling and Universal Wrestling Association (1990–1992)
- 3 Acting career
- 4 Personal life and death
- 5 Other media
- 6 Legacy
- 7 In wrestling
- 8 Championships and accomplishments
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
André Roussimoff was born in Coulommiers, Seine-et-Marne, France, to Boris and Mariann Roussimoff, a couple of Slavic (Bulgarian and Polish) ancestry. His nickname growing up was "Dédé". As a child, he displayed symptoms of his gigantism very early, reaching a height of 191 cm (6 ft 3 in) and a weight of 94 kg (208 lb) by the age of 12. Playwright Samuel Beckett, a neighbor who later won the Nobel Prize for Literature, bought some land in 1953 near a hamlet around 60 km (40 mi) northeast of Paris. He built a cottage for himself with the help of André's father Boris Roussimoff. When Beckett found out that Roussimoff was having trouble getting his son to school, Beckett offered to drive André to school in his truck, as he did not fit on the bus. When André recounted the drives with Beckett, he revealed that they rarely talked about anything other than cricket.
Roussimoff was a good student, particularly in mathematics, but he dropped out after the eighth grade since he did not think having a high school education was necessary for a farm laborer. He spent years working on his father's farm, where, according to his brother, Jacques, he could perform the work of three men. He also completed an apprenticeship in woodworking, and next worked in a factory that manufactured engines for hay balers. None of these occupations, however, brought him any satisfaction.
Professional wrestling career
At the age of 17, Roussimoff moved to Paris and was taught professional wrestling by a local promoter who recognized the earning potential of Roussimoff's size. He trained at night and worked as a mover during the day to pay living expenses. Roussimoff was billed as "Géant Ferré", a name based on the French folk hero Grand Ferré, and began wrestling in Paris and nearby areas. Canadian promoter and wrestler Frank Valois met Roussimoff in 1966, becoming his business manager and adviser. Roussimoff began making a name for himself wrestling in the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa.
He made his Japanese debut in 1970, billed as "Monster Roussimoff", wrestling for the International Wrestling Enterprise. Wrestling as both a singles and tag-team competitor, he quickly was made the company's tag-team champion alongside Michael Nador. During his time in Japan, doctors first informed Roussimoff that he suffered from acromegaly.
Roussimoff next moved to Montréal, Canada, where he became an immediate success, regularly selling out the Montreal Forum. However, promoters eventually ran out of plausible opponents for him and, as the novelty of his size wore off, the gate receipts dwindled. Roussimoff was defeated by Adnan Al-Kaissie in Baghdad in 1971, and wrestled numerous times in 1972 for Verne Gagne's American Wrestling Association (AWA) as a special attraction until Valois appealed to Vince McMahon Sr., founder of the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF), for advice. McMahon suggested several changes. He felt Roussimoff should be portrayed as a large, immovable monster, and to enhance the perception of his size, McMahon discouraged Roussimoff from performing maneuvers such as dropkicks (although he was capable of performing such agile maneuvers before his health deteriorated in later life). He also began billing Roussimoff as "André the Giant" and set up a travel-intensive schedule, lending him to wrestling associations around the world, to keep him from becoming overexposed in any area. Promoters had to guarantee Roussimoff a certain amount of money as well as pay McMahon's WWWF booking fee.
World Wide Wrestling Federation/World Wrestling Federation
"Undefeated streak" (1973–1987)
André was one of professional wrestling's most beloved "babyfaces" throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. As such, Gorilla Monsoon often stated that André had never been defeated for 15 years by pinfall or submission prior to WrestleMania III; however, André had lost in matches outside of the WWF: a pinfall loss in Mexico to Canek in 1984 and a submission loss in Japan to Antonio Inoki in 1986. He also had sixty-minute time-limit draws with the two other major world champions of the day, Harley Race and Nick Bockwinkel.
In 1976, André fought professional boxer Chuck Wepner in an unscripted boxer-versus-wrestler fight. The wild fight was shown via telecast as part of the undercard of the Muhammad Ali versus Antonio Inoki fight and ended when André threw Wepner over the top rope and outside the ring.
In 1980, he feuded with Hulk Hogan, where unlike their more famous matches in the late 1980s, Hogan was the villain and Andre was the hero, wrestling him at Shea Stadium's Showdown at Shea and in Pennsylvania, where after Andre pinned Hogan to win the match, Hogan bodyslammed Andre much like their legendary WrestleMania III match in 1987. The feud continued in Japan in 1982 and 1983 with their roles reversed and with Antonio Inoki also involved.
In 1982, Vince McMahon, Sr. sold the World Wide Wrestling Federation to his son, Vince McMahon, Jr. As McMahon began to expand his newly acquired promotion to the national level, he required his wrestlers to appear exclusively for him. McMahon signed André to these terms in 1984, although he still allowed him to work in Japan for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW).
One of André's feuds pitted him against the "Mongolian Giant" Killer Khan. According to the storyline, Khan had snapped André's ankle during a match on 2 May 1981, in Rochester, New York, by leaping off the top rope and crashing down upon it with his knee-drop. In reality, André had broken his ankle getting out of bed the morning before the match. The injury and subsequent rehabilitation was worked into the existing André/Khan storyline. After a stay at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, André returned with payback on his mind. The two battled on July 20, 1981, at Madison Square Garden in a match that resulted in a double disqualification. Their feud continued as fans filled arenas up and down the east coast to witness their matches. On November 14, 1981, at the Philadelphia Spectrum, André decisively defeated Khan in what was billed as a "Mongolian stretcher match", in which the loser must be taken to the dressing room on a stretcher. The same type of match was also held in Toronto. In early 1982 the two also fought in a series of matches in Japan with Arnold Skaaland in Andre's corner.
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 to determine who the real giant of wrestling was. In 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 taken 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 which featured top National Football League stars and wrestlers. André last eliminated Bret Hart to win the contest.
After WrestleMania 2, André continued his feud with Studd and King Kong Bundy. Around this time, André requested a leave of absence to tend to his health, effects from his acromegaly that were beginning to take their toll, as well as tour Japan. He had also been cast in the film The Princess Bride. To explain André's absence, a storyline was developed in which Heenan—suggesting that André was secretly afraid of Studd and Bundy, whom Heenan bragged were unbeatable—challenged André and a partner of his choosing to wrestle Studd and Bundy in a televised tag-team match. When André failed to show, WWF president Jack Tunney indefinitely suspended him. Later in the summer of 1986, upon André's return to the United States, he began wearing a mask and competing as the "Giant Machine" in a stable known as the Machines. (Big Machine and Super Machine were the other members, (Hulk Hogan (as "Hulk Machine") and Roddy Piper (as "Piper Machine") were also one-time members). The WWF's television announcers sold the Machines—a gimmick that was copied from the New Japan Pro Wrestling character "Super Strong Machine", played by Japanese wrestler Junji Hirata, —as "a new tag-team from Japan" and claimed not to know the identities of the wrestlers, even though it was obvious to fans that it was André competing as the Giant Machine. Heenan, Studd, and Bundy complained to Tunney, who eventually told Heenan that if it could be proven that André and the Giant Machine were the same person, André would be fired. André thwarted Heenan, Studd, and Bundy at every turn. Then, in late 1986, the Giant Machine "disappeared," and André was reinstated. Foreshadowing André's heel turn, Heenan expressed his approval of the reinstatement but did not explain why.
WWF Champion and various rivalries (1987–1989)
André agreed to turn heel in early 1987 to be the counter to the biggest "babyface" in professional wrestling at that time, Hulk Hogan. On an edition of Piper's Pit in 1987, Hogan was presented a trophy for being the WWF World Heavyweight Champion for three years; André came out to congratulate him. On the following week's Piper's Pit, André was presented a slightly smaller trophy for being "the only undefeated wrestler in wrestling history." Although André had suffered a handful of countout and disqualification losses in WWF, he 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. Apparently annoyed, André walked out in the midst of Hogan's speech. A discussion between André and Hogan was scheduled, and on a Piper's Pit that aired 7 February 1987, the two met. Hogan was introduced first, followed by André. André was led by longtime rival Bobby Heenan.
Speaking on behalf of his new protégé, Heenan accused Hogan of being André's friend only so he would not have to defend his title against him. Hogan tried to reason with André, but his pleas were ignored as he challenged Hogan to a match for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania III. Hogan was still seemingly in disbelief as to what André was doing, prompting Heenan to say "You can't believe it, maybe you'll believe this, Hogan" before André ripped off the T-shirt and crucifix from Hogan, with the crucifix scratching Hogan's chest, causing him to bleed.
Following Hogan's acceptance of André's challenge on a later edition of Piper's Pit, the two were part of a 20-man over-the-top rope battle-royal on the 14 March edition of Saturday Night's Main Event at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Although the battle royal was won by Hercules, André claimed to have gained a psychological advantage over Hogan when he threw the WWF World Heavyweight Champion over the top rope. The match, which was actually taped on February 21, 1987, aired only two weeks before WrestleMania III to make it seem like Hogan had met his match in André the Giant.
At WrestleMania III, he was billed at 240 kg (520 lb), and the stress of such 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. In front of a record crowd of 93,173, Hogan won the match after body-slamming André (later dubbed "the bodyslam heard around the world"), followed by Hogan's running leg drop finisher. Years later, Hogan claimed that André was so heavy, he felt more like 320 kg (700 lb), and that he tore his latissimus dorsi muscle when slamming him.
Another myth about the match is that no one, not even WWF owner Vince McMahon, knew until the day of the event whether André would lose the match. In reality, André had agreed to lose the match some time before, mostly for health reasons, though he almost pinned Hogan (albeit unintentionally) in the first minute of the match after Hogan tried to slam him but could not hold his weight. Contrary to popular belief, it was not the first time that Hogan had successfully body-slammed André in a WWF match. A then-heel Hogan slammed a then-face André following their match at the "Showdown at Shea" on 9 August 1980, though André was much lighter (around 210 kg (470 lb)) and more athletic at the time (Hogan also slammed André in a match in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, a month later). This took place in the territorial days of American wrestling three years before WWF began national expansion, so many of those who watched WrestleMania III had never seen the Giant slammed (André had also previously allowed Harley Race, El Canek and Stan Hansen, among others, to slam him).
By the time of WrestleMania III, 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, as Roussimoff's health declined. The feud began heating up again when wrestlers were named the captains of rival teams at the inaugural Survivor Series event. During their approximately one minute of battling each other during the match, Hogan dominated André and was on the brink of knocking him from the ring, but was tripped up by André's partners, Bundy and One Man Gang, and would be counted out. André went on to be the sole survivor of the match, pinning Bam Bam Bigelow before Hogan returned to the ring to attack André and knock him out of the ring. André later got revenge when, after Hogan won a match against Bundy on Saturday Night's Main Event, he snuck up from behind and began choking Hogan to the brink of unconsciousness, not letting go even after an army of seven face-aligned wrestlers ran to the ring to try to pull André away; it took Hacksaw Jim Duggan breaking a piece of wood over André's back (which he no-sold) for him to let go, after which Hogan was pulled to safety. As was the case with the SNME battle royal a year earlier, the series of events was one of the pieces that helped build interest in a possible one-on-one rematch between Hogan and André, and to make it seem that André was certain to win easily when they did meet.
In the meantime, the "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase failed to persuade Hogan to sell him the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. After failing to defeat Hogan in a subsequent series of matches, DiBiase turned to André to win it for him. André and DiBiase had teamed several times in the past, including in Japan and in the WWF in the late 1970s and early 1980s when both were faces, but this was not acknowledged during this new storyline. The earlier attack and DiBiase's insertion into the feud set up the Hogan-André rematch on The Main Event, to air 5 February 1988, on a live broadcast on NBC. Acting as his hired gun, André won the WWF World Heavyweight Championship from Hogan (his first singles title) in a match where it was later revealed that appointed referee Dave Hebner was "detained backstage", and a replacement (whom Hogan afterwards initially accused of having been paid by DiBiase to get plastic surgery to look like Dave, but was revealed to have been his evil 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 declared vacant. 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.
At the inaugural SummerSlam pay-per-view held at Madison Square Garden, André and DiBiase (billed as The Mega Bucks) faced Hogan and WWF World Heavyweight Champion "Macho Man" Randy Savage (known as The Mega Powers) in the main event, with Jesse "The Body" Ventura as the special guest referee. During the match, the Mega Powers' manager, Miss Elizabeth, (Savage's wife Elizabeth Hulette) distracted the Mega Bucks and Ventura when she climbed up on the ring apron, removed her yellow skirt and walked around in a pair of red panties. This allowed Hogan and Savage time to recover and eventually win the match with Hogan pinning DiBiase. Savage forced Ventura's hand down for the final three-count, due to Ventura's character historically being at odds with Hogan, and his unwillingness to count the fall.
Concurrent with the developing feud with the Mega Powers, André was placed in a feud with Jim Duggan, which began after Duggan knocked out André with a two-by-four board during a television taping. Despite Duggan's popularity with fans, André regularly got the upper hand in the feud.
André's next major feud was against Jake "The Snake" Roberts. In this storyline, it was said André was 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 reprised their feud, beginning at WrestleMania V, when Studd was the referee in the match with Roberts, this time with Studd as a face and André as the heel. During the late summer and autumn of 1989, André engaged in a brief feud, consisting almost entirely of house shows (non-televised events), with then-Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior. The younger Warrior, WWF's rising star, regularly squashed the aging André in an attempt to showcase his star quality and promote him as the "next big thing".
The Colossal Connection (1989–1990)
In late 1989, André was joined with fellow Heenan Family member Haku to form a new tag team called the Colossal Connection, in part to fill a void left by the departure of Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson (the Brain Busters, who were also members of Heenan's stable) from the WWF, and also to continue to keep the aging André in the main event spotlight. The Colossal Connection immediately targeted WWF Tag Team Champions Demolition (who had recently won the belts from the Brain Busters). At a television taping on 13 December 1989, the Colossal Connection defeated Demolition to win the titles. André and Haku successfully defended their title, mostly against Demolition, until WrestleMania VI on 1 April 1990, when Demolition took advantage of a mistimed move by the champions to regain the belts. After the match, a furious Heenan blamed André for the title loss and after shouting at him, slapped him in the face; an angry André responded with a slap of his own that sent Heenan staggering from the ring. André also caught Haku's kick attempt, sending him reeling from the ring as well, prompting support for André and turning him face for the first time since 1987. Due to his ongoing health issues, André was not able to wrestle at the time of Wrestlemania VI and Haku actually wrestled the entire match against Demolition without tagging in André.
On weekend television shows following WrestleMania VI, Bobby Heenan vowed to spit in Andre's face when he came crawling back to the Heenan Family. However Andre would wrestle one more time with Haku, teaming up to face Demolition on a house show in Honolulu, HI, on 10 April. Andre was knocked out of the ring and The Colossal Connection lost via countout. After the match, Andre and Haku would fight each other, marking the end of the team. Andre's final match of 1990 came at a combined WWF/All Japan/New Japan show on 13 April in Tokyo, Japan when teamed with Giant Baba to defeat Demolition in a non-title match. Andre would win by gaining the pinfall on Smash.
Sporadic appearances (1990–1992)
Andre returned in the winter of 1990, but it was not to the World Wrestling Federation. Instead, Andre made an interview appearance for Herb Abrams' fledgling Universal Wrestling Federation on 11 October in Reseda, California. (the segment aired in 1991). He appeared in an interview segment with Captain Lou Albano and put over the UWF. The following month, on November 30 at a house show in Miami, Florida the World Wrestling Federation announced Andre's return as a participant in the 1991 Royal Rumble (to be held in Miami, FL two months later). Andre was also mentioned as a participant on television but would ultimately back out due to a leg injury.
His on-air return finally came at WrestleMania VII, when he came to the aid of The Big Boss Man in his match against Mr. Perfect. André finally returned to action on 26 April 1991, in a six-man tag-team matchup when he teamed with the Rockers in a winning effort against Mr. Fuji and the Orient Express at a house show in Belfast, Northern Ireland. On May 10 he participated in a 17-man battle-royal at a house show in Detroit. (won by Kerry Von Erich). His last major WWF storyline following WrestleMania VII had the major heel managers (Bobby Heenan, Sensational Sherri, Slick, and Mr. Fuji) trying to recruit André one-by-one, only to be turned down in various humiliating ways (e.g. Heenan had his hand crushed, Sherri received a spanking, Slick got locked in the trunk of the car he was offering to André and Mr. Fuji got a pie in his face). Finally, Jimmy Hart appeared live on WWF Superstars to announce that he had successfully signed André to tag-team with Earthquake. However, when asked to confirm this by Gene Okerlund, André denied the claims. This led to Earthquake's attacking André from behind (injuring his knee). Jimmy Hart would later get revenge for the humiliation by secretly signing Tugboat and forming the Natural Disasters. This led to André's final major WWF appearance at SummerSlam '91, where he seconded the Bushwhackers in their match against the Disasters. André was on crutches at ringside, and after the Disasters won the match, they set out to attack André, but the Legion of Doom made their way to ringside and got in between them and the Giant, who was preparing to defend himself with one of his crutches. The Disasters left the ringside area as they were outnumbered by the Legion of Doom, the Bushwhackers and André, who struck both Earthquake and Typhoon (the former Tugboat) with the crutch as they left. His final WWF appearance came at a house show in Paris, France, on October 9. He was in Davey Boy Smith's corner as the Bulldog faced Earthquake. Davey Boy hit Earthquake with André's crutch, allowing Smith to win.
All Japan Pro Wrestling and Universal Wrestling Association (1990–1992)
After WrestleMania VI, André spent the rest of his in-ring career in All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) and Mexico's Universal Wrestling Association, where he performed under the name "André el Gigante." He toured with AJPW three times per year, from 1990 to 1992, usually teaming with Giant Baba in tag-team matches. He also made a couple of guest appearances for Herb Abrams' Universal Wrestling Federation, in 1991, feuding with Big John Studd, though he never had a match in the promotion. He did his final tour of Mexico in 1992 in a selection of six-man tag matches alongside Bam Bam Bigelow and a variety of Lucha Libre stars facing among others Bad News Allen and future WWF Champion Yokozuna. André wrestled his final match for AJPW in 1992, after which he retired from professional wrestling.
André branched out into acting again in the 1970s and 1980s, after a 1967 French boxing film, making his USA acting debut playing a Sasquatch ("Bigfoot") in a two-part episode aired in 1976 on the television series The Six Million Dollar Man. He appeared in other television shows, including The Greatest American Hero, B. J. and the Bear, The Fall Guy and 1990's Zorro.
Towards the end of his career, André starred in several films. 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). That same year, André also made an appearance in Micki & Maude (billed as André Rousimmoff). He appeared most notably as Fezzik, his own favorite role, in the 1987 film The Princess Bride. Both the film and André's performance retain a devoted following.
In his last film, he appeared in a cameo role as a circus giant in the comedy Trading Mom, which was released a year after his death.
- Casse tête chinois pour le judoka (1967)
- The Six Million Dollar Man – "The Secret of Bigfoot – I and II" (1976), Bigfoot
- B. J. and the Bear – "Snow White and the Seven Lady Truckers" (1981), Manny Felcher
- Les Brillant (1982), Jean Petit
- The Fall Guy (1982), Killer Typhoon
- The Greatest American Hero – "Heaven Is in Your Genes" (1983), Monster
- "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough" music video by Cyndi Lauper
- Conan the Destroyer (1984), Dagoth (uncredited)
- Micki & Maude (1984), Himself
- I Like to Hurt People (1985), Himself
- The Princess Bride (1987), Fezzik
- Trading Mom (1994), Circus Giant
- Symphorien (1978), French Canadian sitcom on Quebec television
- Les Brillants (1981), French Canadian sitcom on Quebec television
Personal life and death
Roussimoff has been unofficially crowned "the greatest drunk on Earth" for once consuming 119 12-US-fluid-ounce (350 ml) beers (over 41 litres/72 pints) in six hours. On an episode of WWE's Legends of Wrestling, Mike Graham said Roussimoff once drank 156 16-US-fluid-ounce (470 ml) beers (over 73 litres/126 pints) in one sitting, which was confirmed by Dusty Rhodes. The Fabulous Moolah wrote in her autobiography that Roussimoff drank 127 beers in a Reading, Pennsylvania, hotel bar and later passed out in the lobby. The staff could not move him and had to leave him there until he awoke. A tale recounted by Cary Elwes in his book about the making of The Princess Bride has Roussimoff falling on top of somebody while drunk, after which the NYPD sent an undercover officer to follow Roussimoff around whenever he went out drinking in their city to make sure he did not fall on anyone again.
An urban legend exists surrounding Roussimoff's 1987 surgery in which his size made it impossible for the anesthesiologist to estimate a dosage via standard methods; consequently, his alcohol tolerance was used as a guideline instead.
William Goldman, the author of the novel and the screenplay of The Princess Bride, wrote in his nonfiction work Which Lie Did I Tell? that Roussimoff was one of the gentlest and most generous people he ever knew. Whenever Roussimoff ate with someone in a restaurant, he would pay, but he would also insist on paying when he was a guest. After one meal, Arnold Schwarzenegger had quietly moved to the cashier to pay before Roussimoff could, but then found himself being physically lifted, carried from his table and deposited on top of his car by Roussimoff and Wilt Chamberlain.
While Roussimoff was often billed as being 224 cm (7 ft 4 in) tall, his true height remains a point of conjecture among wrestling fans, with a number believing that his real height was closer to 212 cm (6 ft 11 in), given professional wrestling's reputation for exaggerating their characters to make them appear larger than life. This is despite there being no official references to Roussimoff's height other than the 224 cm (7 ft 4 in) (the WWE website lists Roussimoff as being 7'4"). Indeed, many stories have been made public, including one in which he was reportedly told by the various promoters that he tried to never stand next to or be photographed with basketball players such as the 216 cm (7 ft 1 in) Wilt Chamberlain or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who stood at 218 cm (7 ft 2 in), due to their actually being taller than he was.
Roussimoff owned a ranch in Ellerbe, North Carolina, looked after by two of his close friends. When he was not on the road, he loved spending time at the ranch tending to his cattle, playing with his dogs and entertaining company. While there were custom-made chairs and a few other modifications in his home to account for his size, tales that everything in his home was custom-made for a large man are said to be exaggerated. Since Roussimoff could not easily go shopping due to his fame and size, he was known to spend hours watching QVC and made frequent purchases from the shopping channel.
Roussimoff died in his sleep of congestive heart failure on the night of 27 January 1993, in a Paris hotel room. He was found by his chauffeur. He was in Paris to attend his father's funeral. While there, Roussimoff decided to stay in France longer to be with his mother on her birthday. He spent the day before his death visiting and playing cards with some of his oldest friends in Molien.
André had finalized his will in New York on 30 October 1990, with his lawyer. In the will, André specified that his remains be cremated and "disposed of." Upon his death in Paris, André's family in France held a funeral for him, intending to bury him near his father. When they learned of Andre's wish to be cremated, his body was flown to the United States, where he was cremated according to his wishes. His ashes were scattered at his ranch ( ) in Ellerbe, North Carolina.
André has made numerous appearances as himself in video games, starting with WWF WrestleMania (1989 video game). He also appears in WWF Superstars, WWF No Mercy, WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW, WWE All Stars, “WWE 2K16” WWE 2K17, WWE 2K18 and many others.
In January 2005, WWE released André The Giant, a DVD focusing on the life and 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 VHS.
- In 1993, when the then-World Wrestling Federation created the WWF Hall of Fame, André the Giant was the inaugural and sole inductee.
- 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 Big Show, is more similar in body structure to André than any other wrestler since André's death. He was originally billed as the son of André during his stint in WCW (when he was known as simply "the Giant") despite there being no biological relationship. While also suffering from acromegaly, unlike André, 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 had near the end of his life and died in 2010 due to diabetes complications.
- In 1999, André was the subject of an episode of A&E Biography, titled André the Giant: Larger Than Life. The documentary covered André's childhood and early life in France, as well as the beginning of his wrestling career, his struggles with acromegaly, his personal life, and his final years. André's brother, Jacques Roussimoff, was interviewed for the documentary, as were fellow wrestling personalities Gorilla Monsoon, Tim White, Arnold Skaaland, Vince McMahon, Freddie Blassie, Killer Kowalski, Rene Goulet, and Frenchy Bernard, as well as wrestling historian Sheldon Goldberg. Several of André's longtime hometown friends were interviewed as well. The documentary described André as pro wrestling's "first and only international attraction" and that "on his broad shoulders, wrestling rose from its status as a questionable sport to become big business, and some might argue, performance art."
- The Obey brand icon originated from wheatpaste posters that artist Shepard Fairey created based upon a photo of André the Giant that he had found in a newspaper.
- Capcom's video game character Hugo, from the Street Fighter series (known as Andore in the Final Fight series) is based on him.
- The 2014 graphic novel André The Giant: The Life and The Legend (First Second Books), written and drawn by Box Brown, tells the story of André's life and career. Research for the book included interviews with André's fellow wrestlers and actors such as Christopher Guest, Mandy Patinkin and others.
- On the March 10, 2014, episode of Raw, WrestleMania XXX host Hulk Hogan announced that in honor of André's legacy, he was establishing the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, that would take place at the event, with the winner receiving the André the Giant Memorial Trophy (made in the likeness of André). On 6 April 2014, at WrestleMania XXX, Cesaro won the match after eliminating Big Show using a body slam similar to the body slam Hulk Hogan used on André at WrestleMania III. At WrestleMania 31, the second annual André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal took place at Levi's Stadium, establishing the match as a yearly tradition at WWE's marquee event. Big Show won the event, last eliminating Damien Mizdow. At WrestleMania 32, the third annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal was held with Baron Corbin last eliminating Kane to win the match, which was also notable for NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal entering as a surprise participant. Mojo Rawley became the fourth winner of the battle royal last eliminating Jinder Mahal at WrestleMania 33
On 9 May 2016, it was announced that a movie based on the 2015 authorized graphic novel biography André the Giant: Closer to Heaven was in the plans made by Lion Forge Comics along with producers Scott Steindorff, Dylan Russell and consulted by André's daughter, Robin Christensen-Roussimoff.
On 13 February 2017, HBO Sports, the WWE and Bill Simmons announced a partnership to produce a documentary on Andre's life. The documentary, titled Andre The Giant, is scheduled to be aired on HBO on April 10, 2018.
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
- Bear hug
- Big boot
- Double underhook suplex
- Facebreaker knee smash
- Knee strike to an opponent's middle section
- Multiple chokes variations
- Multiple chop variations
- Reverse body avalanche
- Standing on a fallen, cornered opponent
- Stepping on a fallen opponent's stomach
- Turnbuckle thrusts
- "(The) Boss"
- "The Wildcat"
- "The Eighth Wonder of the World"
- Entrance themes
- "Giant Press" (NJPW)
- "Giant" by Jim Johnston (used in various WWE video games)
- "Ave Satanus" by John Christopher Payne (used in WWE 2K14, WWE 2K15, WWE 2K16 WWE 2K17, and WWE 2K18)
Championships and accomplishments
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
- Championship Wrestling from Florida
- International Pro Wrestling
- NWA Hollywood
- Los Angeles Battle Royal (1975, 1980)
- NWA San Francisco
- Cow Palace Battle Royal (1977)
- New Japan Pro Wrestling
- 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
- Most Popular Wrestler of the Year (1977, 1982)
- Match of the Year (1981) vs. Killer Khan on 2 May
- Match of the Year (1988) vs. Hulk Hogan at The Main Event
- Most Hated Wrestler of the Year (1988)
- Editor's Award (1993)
- Ranked #3 of the top 500 singles wrestlers of the "PWI Years" in 2003
- Stampede Wrestling
- World Championship Wrestling (Australia)
- World Wrestling Federation/WWE
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- 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 3
- Worst Worked Match of the Year (1989) vs. the Ultimate Warrior on October 31
- Worst Tag Team (1990, 1991) with Giant Baba
- Worst Wrestler (1989, 1991, 1992)
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)
- Canadian Wrestling Hall of Fame
- Class of 2016
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It was billed as the biggest main event in the history of sports entertainment: Hollywood Hogan vs. Andre the Giant. Hogan, in his third year as WWE Champion, was set for the biggest challenge of his life in the form of the 7-foot-4, 520-pound Andre, who betrayed his former best friend in exchange for his long-awaited shot at the championship.
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Upon his arrival in Quebec he was announced as 7' 4" inches...
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At his largest, Roussimoff was probably six feet eleven inches tall, though he was advertised as seven feet four inches.
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...Andre the Giant, the 7-foot-4, 520-pound behemoth...
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(Date: May 6, 1991 Shown: June 1, 1991) Included an in-ring interview by Gene Okerlund in which André the Giant refused Jimmy Hart's offer to become his manager only to have his knee attacked by Earthquake, using Hart's megaphone
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(Date: May 28, 1991 Shown: June 15, 1991)Earthquake & WWF Tag Team Champions the Nasty Boys (w/ Jimmy Hart) defeated Tugboat & the Bushwhackers at 4:05 when Earthquake pinned Luke with a sit-down splash after Tugboat attacked both of his teammates; after the match, Tugboat embraced with his new friends
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- on YouTube
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