DVD Review: Andre the Giant
By Alan Keiper
Feb 1, 2005, 23:40
World Wrestling Entertainment presents Andre the Giant. This program first appeared as a
Coliseum Home Video back in the mid-80s. The video chronicles Andre's career, focusing on the Giant's
feud with the late Big John Studd. I was not old enough to remember Andre the Giant during his
career, and I always felt his late 80s work, when he was close to immobile, could hardly do his career
justice. At a $10 price tag, this DVD provides ten matches from Wrestlemania and before, none of
which I have actually viewed previously. Yes, for some reason I never watched the first Wrestlemania.
Still, we will see what this DVD has to offer.
Our first match brings us Andre versus Moondog Rex, also known as Randy Culley. Hardcore fans may
know Rex as the original Smash of Demolition, before Barry Darsow replaced Culley. This match is
presented as a "typical" Andre match, and it helps introduce Andre to the viewers. Lord Alfred Hayes
narrates the entire match, and viewers may find him grating. Personally, I do not think he is bad for
segue ways, but to have him voice the entire match is questionable. Thankfully, the match runs less than
two minutes. It is nothing special, but a decent enough opening.
Next we see an 18 man battle royal, from East Rutherford, NJ. The DVD case lists Andre along with
Sgt. Slaughter, Big John Studd, Jimmy Snuka, Pat Patterson, Hulk Hogan, Paul Orndorff, the Iron Sheik,
and Tito Santana. Apart from those wrestlers, fans may recognize Adrian Adonis, Dick Murdoch, Mil
Mascaras, and Salvatore Bellomo. Glancing through Graham Cawthon's excellent History of the WWE, I believe this match is
likely from March of 1984. Hulk Hogan is mentioned as the champ, still sporting blue tights. Tiger
Chung Lee is in the bout as well, as Gorilla claims Lee is a sneaky Korean, always ready to attack
someone from behind. Seriously. It would be nice to state things have advanced in the last twenty
years, but Muhammad Hussan does not bring much hope. But that is a separate issue. Jimmy Snuka gets
a huge pop upon his entrance, demonstrating his popularity as this point in his career. The finale
sees Andre left alone with Adonis, Murdoch, and Alexis Smirnoff, and of course Andre cleans house.
Again, we see Andre dominating, setting up his character.
Lord Alfred Hayes states that Andre became so dominant that promoters had to give him handicap matches
in order to make things competitive. So we get this match up between Andre, and Black Gordman and
Goliath. The DVD case lists the date as January 12, 1976. Gordman and Goliath of course used to
infuriate Mexican audiences by insisted they hailed from New Mexico. The first row of seats is
empty, purposively because fans were getting hurt by flying wrestlers in Andre's matches. I do not
know if that is the real story, but it is certainly an interesting way to sell a gimmick. In any
case, Gordman and Goliath were one of the top tag teams of their era. Still, they are little match
for Andre, as Andre pins both, having Gordman actually pinning his own partner in the process.
Next, we see Andre against THREE opponents, Jack Evans, Joe Butcher Nova, and WWE Hall of Famer Johnny
Rodz. Rodz was known as Vince McMahon Sr.'s "enforcer," a shooter meant to keep unruly wrestlers in
line. I believe most promotions of the day had one on their payroll. In any case, Andre makes short
work of his three opponents. Essentially, this match is the same as the Gordman/Goliath match, except
with an additional opponent. Again, this match and the previous match establish Andre as a dominant
wrestler, setting up for a big challenge for Andre to face later on. Classic storytelling.
The next match sees Andre the Giant against Gorilla Monsoon, in a BOXING match from Puerto Rico.
Legendary former boxing champion Jersey Joe Walcott is the special guest referee. For those of you
unfamiliar with old-school wrestling, Gorilla performed as a heel for the majority of his career. The
footage is of questionable quality, for which Lord Alfred Hayes apologizes. No date is listed, but
this match must be from some time in the mid to late 1970s. This match is as far from a legitimate
boxing match as you can find. Andre knocks Monsoon down in the second, and delivers a big splash.
This is just an awful match, but it is an invaluable piece of tape. Rare matches like this are fun to
watch, purely for historical value.
Next we see Andre teaming with "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka, against the Wild Samoans, from February of
1983. We see Jimmy Snuka wrestle most of the match for his team, which allows Andre to appear in a
longer match, giving the match a more believable match up, and letting the fans pop when Andre DOES
appear. But all that is probably obvious. Again, this is during Snuka's most popular phase, and if
you did not see him before 1985, his later run does Snuka little justice. He was a phenomenal
performer in his day. This match is probably the best match on the DVD, workrate wise. Snuka and
Andre win when Snuka drops a flying headbutt off of Andre's shoulders.
Next we see Andre the Giant battle the Masked Superstar, also known as Demolition Ax. We see Andre
try to unmask the Superstar, which would make him neither masked, nor a superstar. The mask actually
plays an important role in the match, as Andre breaks Superstar's cobra clutch variation by attempting
to remove the mask.
Next we see an important match in pre-Wrestlemania history, as Andre the Giant and S.D. (Special
Delivery) Jones battle Big John Studd and Ken Patera. This match occurred only a few months before
Patera brawled with Wisconsin police officers outside of McDonald's, resulting in prison time. Patera
looks absolutely tiny here compared to Studd and the Giant. The actual match lasts maybe two or three
minutes, as it all sets up the hair-cutting incident. This was actually quite tame, as the hair
cutting is sold as a despicable event.
We see Tuesday Night Titans, as Vince McMahon Jr. interviews Andre the Giant, promoting Andre's
upcoming battle against Big John Studd, at Wrestlemania. But first, Vince takes us back to a
previous match pitting Andre one on one against Ken Patera. At this point one can observe the
deterioration apparent in Andre's condition, as he could not wrestle conventional matches. This
Patera bout involves lots of stalling, with a handful of comedy spots. Andre of course murders Patera
when he gets his hands on him, and Bobby Heenan provides his usual quality bumping. Andre wins by DQ,
Back to Tuesday Night Titans, Vince and Andre discuss the terms of the upcoming Wrestlemania match.
Bobby Heenan and Big John Studd put up $15,000 to challenge Andre. Andre flatly refuses to put up
anything for the match. Andre threatens Vince when he presses the issue. On to Wrestlemania, as
Andre eventually accepted the challenge from Studd and Heenan. Andre will retire if he loses the
match against Studd. As most of you probably know, this is the bodyslam match. For some reason,
Studd reminds me of Gene Snisky. Probably just a passing fancy. Michael Cole and Tazz provide
commentary for this bout, as opposed to the original commentary from Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse
Ventura. This is certainly a case of the match stipulations stacking themselves against the heel, as
opposed to the face. Michael Cole's thoughts are fairly worthless, but Tazz makes a handful of
interesting comments. The commentary is not inspiring, but the match is not either. Andre slams
Studd after six minutes. Despite the low quality of the match, however, the match remains one of
Wrestlemania's most enduring moments, and one of the highlights of Andre's career. I really do feel
however that the alternate commentary distracted from the magnitude, by separating the viewer from the
match. It seemed that we were viewing the match from a distance, and therefore could not involve
ourselves in the moment.
Looking over the DVD as a whole, one can not help but gather an unfavorable impression of Andre's in
ring skills. Andre was reputed to have an excellent 60 minute draw against Nick Bockwinkel on his
record, but nothing of the sort could be found in this program. Of course, that is unfair to Andre,
as the WWF tended to drag down workrate at the time, and the matches displayed were not the sort of
matches where a wrestler like Andre could display his technical skill. As a special attraction, Andre
regularly wrestled in comedy matches, where promoters could entertain the fans and not display the
same squash matches they would if Andre simply wrestled conventional matches against the heel of the
week. But that is besides the point. If you are looking for workrate, this is not the DVD to
If you are like me, however, you will love the history, rare matches, and sometimes entertaining
segments this DVD provides. The Gorilla Monsoon boxing match I had never heard of before, and while
it did stink up the joint, it is an event that bypasses the usual conventions of good wrestling. It
may not satisfy the workrate and technical aspects of wrestling, but I found it entertaining. That is
a theme that covers Andre's entire career, actually. You can not go into his matches expecting
quality work. But if you cast those illusions aside, you can enjoy yourself. And in fact, I think
Andre's matches on this disc are more entertaining when he has fun then when he makes a serious
attempt at wrestling, like in the Masked Superstar bout. That is just my observation.
At $10, I think this DVD deserves an easy recommendation. There are no special features outside of
the program, and with the exception of the commentary on the Andre/Studd match, nothing has been
updated from the original Coliseum Video production. DeepDiscountdvd.com has the DVD
available for just $5.99, or you can order the video off Amazon.com. You might also find it at your local retailer.
I hope you enjoyed my first attempt at a wrestling review. Send feedback to [email protected], or talk about this review in our forums. As always, thank you for reading.
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