Andre the Giant vs. Moondog Rex
We start at the Philadelphia Spectrum in August 1981. This is just a squash with the added bonus of Lord Alfred Hayes talking over the top of it. He discusses Andre’s love for wine, playing cards and animals. A strange way to start a tape really.
Final Rating: SQUASH (Not rated)
18-Man Battle Royal
Onto one of Andre’s specialties next, an 18-man Battle Royal, which took place in Oakland in April 1984. There is quite the line-up in here, with the likes of Sgt. Slaughter, Big John Studd, Jimmy Snuka, Pat Patterson, Hulk Hogan, Paul Orndorff, The Iron Sheik, Tito Santana and Mil Mascaras all involved. Hayes says Iron Sheik is looking to make a name for himself in this Battle Royal. Clearly being former WWF champion is not enough for his Lordship. This is a pretty standard Battle Royal, the early highlights of which are Iron Sheik’s exchanges with Sgt. Slaughter. Sheik eliminated his arch nemesis and future ally, and they continued fighting on the outside later on. There is just one single camera on this, and it is usually zoomed so far in that you only get to see 1/3 of the ring at any one time. It makes it quite difficult to watch. Hogan and Studd brawl in and out of the ring throughout until they are both eliminated. Adonis eliminates Patterson, and the final four are Alexis Smirnoff, Adrian Adonis, Dick Murdoch and Andre the Giant. The three heels triple team Andre, but they can’t get him out of the ring. An atomic drop gets rid of Smirnoff, then he throws out Murdoch and Adonis, to win the match. Fun Battle Royal, and a very logical choice to be on the tape. The camera work was dreadful though.
Final Rating: *½
Andre the Giant vs. Black Gordman & Goliath
We go way back to January 1976 in Los Angeles for this handicap match. Alfred Hayes introduces the bout, and explains that because of Andre’s dominance, promoters changed his matches to 2 vs. 1 so they were more competitive, and also stopped people sitting in the front row because he would throw his opponents out of the ring and into them, causing injury. I am not convinced that last part is true. Though, there were no barriers then so maybe it is. The unfortunate duo opposite Andre may not be familiar to some, but Gordman is actually fairly well decorated, and held titles all over the world, and had a battle with Mil Mascaras over the NWA Americas Heavyweight Championship. Goliath was his regular tag partner, and the duo held the WCWA Texas Tag Team Championship together on three occasions, working with the likes of Jose Lothario, Ivan Putski, Mil Mascaras and Bobby Duncam. When you hear his name you probably expect him to be huge and intimidating. He is neither. Picture instead, a balding, middle-aged dad. Andre dominates both with ease, pressing Gordman over his head and sitting him on the top rope. Gordman begs off, and Andre slaps him. Andre proceeds to show why the promoters had concerns about the front row, as he biels Goliath into the crowd. The team regain some composure and combine forces to floor Andre, but a wishbone is reversed when he simply puts his legs together and they crash into each other. Cute. Goliath and Gordman manage to keep on top of Andre and keep him grounded, but Andre puts an athletic body scissors on both guys at once, then in an impressive spot he picks both guys up using just his legs and gives them a double monkey flip! Andre could really move before he got bigger with illness, and eventually became worthless in the ring. Andre ends a fun little handicap match with a press slam and pins both guys at once by sitting on them.
Final Rating: *¾
Andre the Giant vs. Gorilla Monsoon
This is a Coliseum exclusive from September 1977, though the quality of the footage makes it look even older than the last match. This is from an outdoor show in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and takes places just after a tropical storm had hit in the middle of the show. Joe Walcott was the special guest referee. I am sure there is a good reason for this being a boxing match, but I am not aware of it. Either way, this will be both interesting and probably pretty awful at the same time. Hayes claims Monsoon is 7-foot tall, but then, Hayes is an idiot. Both guys punch each other, quite a lot. Sorry folks, not a great deal else to say. Andre has the better reach and the height advantage, so he has much the better of it. Hayes: “Andre looks like he knows a thing or two about wrestling, and we know Monsoon does”. He obviously means boxing, the moron. Like I said: idiot. This is weird to see them in boxing gloves mind. Things break down a little with Gorilla using a knee and Andre sitting on Monsoon. Andre knocks Monsoon down a few times, and he gets saved by the bell. In the third round, Andre knocks Monsoon out with a hard right and wins the match. Hayes subsequently pisses himself as Andre and Monsoon brawl in the excessive rain after the match, and Gorilla gets bumped into a big puddle. You can’t make it up folks. How the hell do you rate a boxing match?
Final Rating: ½*
Andre the Giant vs. Jack Evans, Johnny Rodz & Joe Nova
We stay in the 70’s and go back even further to April 1976 from Philadelphia. This is another handicap match. Just to be clear, the Jack Evans in this match is obviously not the same one as who competes on the US Indy’s and in Japan and Mexico. All three of Andre’s opponents try to gang up on him, but they all get pancaked in the corner. Andre puts on the leg-scissors and does the “hopsie” and then the monkey flip. All three manage to cover Andre but he kicks out powerfully. The problem here is that this is almost identical spot for spot as the match with the WCWA jobbers. Why put two similar, by the numbers handicap matches on the same tape? It makes no sense. Andre takes some triple team moves then comes back to beat on all three guys at once. It is a tried and tested formula for Andre. He piles all three opponents on top of each other for the win, having rarely look in any danger during the match. Not much to this at all, and like I said it was the same as the last handicap and thus pointless even being on here.
Final Rating: ½*
Andre the Giant & Superfly Jimmy Snuka vs. The Wild Samoans
Joined in progress here at MSG as we fast-forward to February 1983. Snuka is getting double teamed by the Samoans, and Vince McMahon and Gorilla Monsoon handle commentary duties. One of the problems with these early WWF tapes was definitely the amount of times that matches were joined in progress, which makes it very difficult to judge the bouts as a whole. It is like watching a movie halfway through. Andre has soon seen enough of the double teaming and comes in to save Snuka. Snuka crawls for the tag, but Afa cuts him off. Snuka fires back on his own with chops, but he gets stopped dead in his tracks again. Vince is his usual over the top self, even in ’83, saying how close Snuka was to the tag, even though he was more than half way across the ring. Typical from the man who used to scream: “One, two three! He got him, he got him, he got him!” on the most innocuous of two-counts. Boy, this match is slow. It is another strange choice for inclusion on this tape too, because Andre has barely been involved. All we have seen is an unbearably long heat and deathly dull heat segment. Snuka eventually ducks a double clothesline and dives for the tag, and the crowd explodes as Andre comes in and dismantles the Samoans. Back body drop to Afa and then a slam for Sika, but a headbutt backfires… Obviously… You can’t headbutt a Samoan! Even if you are Andre the Giant. Sika tastes the big boot from Andre and this time a headbutt does work, as the curse of inconsistent Samoan head selling strikes. Tag to Snuka who does the Superfly Splash from on top of Andre’s shoulders, and they get the win. Andre was the least involved participant of everyone in there, though the match only picked up when he finally got the tag in. Really, painfully slow until that point.
Final Rating: ½*
Andre the Giant vs. The Masked Superstar
Forward to February 1984 now, and we stay in MSG. The Masked Superstar was the future Demolition Ax, Bill Eadie. Talk about generic ring names though! And generic looks as well; he looks like a CAW on a video game. Superstar has little success knocking Andre down, or indeed hurting him at all. Andre tries to pull Superstars mask off, but his fingers are too big. Then, in a very strange moment, we leave the match and cut to old footage of him putting his hands over Alfred Hayes face, to really hammer the point home about how big his hands are. What a suitably bizarre interlude. Back to the match and an amusing moment, as Andre drops down and Superstar leaps over him, but as Andre is getting up, Superstar runs into his fat ass and goes down. I like that. Andre is thoroughly in control, and splats Superstar a few times in the corner, but Superstar gets his knee up and manages to finally get some offence. Andre gets pounded to the floor, and Superstar puts on what would later become the Million Dollar Dream. Andre tries to pull the mask off while locked in the hold, so Superstar lets go of it. This gives Andre the chance to mount a comeback, and the big boot/ass splash finishes Superstar off. Andre goes for the mask again afterwards, but Superstar runs away. Yet another extended squash to get Andre’s size over. Some fun spots here and there and it was never boring, and finally a relatively sensible inclusion on the tape, after a couple of poor choices.
Final Rating: *
Andre the Giant & SD Jones vs. Big John Studd & Ken Patera
We move further along to November 1984, still in New York, but this time Poughkeepsie. Andre and Studd feuded extensively throughout the early to mid 80s. I must pose the question: does anyone in wrestling have hair as bad as Ken Patera did? Bleached blonde and ridiculous. He looks like a giant inflated Q-tip. Jones and Andre make quick tags, controlling Patera’s arm. Patera catches a backbreaker, and Studd comes in to take over. Eventually Andre is back in, and the heels double team him with a slam. They keep double teaming Andre relentlessly and eventually the referee has to stop it, awarding the match to Jones and Andre via DQ. The match itself is nothing much, but the post-match angle makes it, as Studd and Patera cut Andre’s hair, humiliating him and setting up months of revenge matches for Andre. Patera should have cut his own hair while he was at it. Poor bout, but worth seeing for the angle that followed.
Final Rating: ½*
Andre the Giant vs. Ken Patera
Two months later, Andre gets chance to get his revenge, and this segment of the tape is subtitled as such. We are back at MSG for this first blow-off, and it is January 1985. Andre unloads early on, forcing Patera to bail and embrace Heenan for support. Patera and Studd actually did Andre a favour by shearing his locks, because he looks far better with short hair. Less like a shaggy dog and a little more serious. I don’t see why he is so upset. If my barber messed up my hair style, I wouldn’t get into a blood feud with him! This is all Andre initially, and Patera keeps having to leave the ring in order to regroup. Back inside and Andre chokes and ragdolls Patera, then does the same again while holding Patera’s singlet strap. Patera hasn’t managed a single move, and everything he has tried has just been shrugged off. He is almost being treated as a joke. It is like the Cena-Laurinaitis match from 2012, though faster and more entertaining. Patera ends up outside again, and Andre follows, whipping him into the barrier. Patera’s manager Bobby Heenan comes in off the top in desperation, and the ref gets bumped in the process. Heenan clocks Andre with a pair of brass knuckles a few times and Patera comes off the top, but gets caught with an Andre boot. Andre beats up both guys, then slaps Heenan around, in a scene that would be echoed at WrestleMania VI. The inevitable result is a DQ of course, and the match was a complete slaughtering of Patera by Andre. The post-match stuff was a lot of fun though and the bout itself was just about watchable. As ever with an Andre match, it was a spectacle rather than anything with scientific merit.
Final Rating: ¾*
Andre the Giant vs. Big John Studd
This match is from the inaugural WrestleMania and is covered by Arnold Furious: If Andre loses he’ll retire from wrestling. That’s not going to happen. In order to ramp up interest Studd went on an unbeaten streak where nobody could slam him. Basically the only way to win is for Andre to slam Studd. For Studd to win he has to avoid being slammed. For how long? There is no announcement of a time limit so this could have gone on forever. Literally Andre could have just slammed Studd a few years later and claimed the money. While he was sleeping or something. The pacing is predictably ponderous. Andre’s best days were unfortunately behind him by this point. To be fair the crowd are into the match, largely because of the work the WWF had put into it. Studd’s slam challenge had gone on for ages and the feud had been on the boil for a few years. Monsoon mentions if the match goes to the time limit then Andre loses but no time limit was actually announced and I did rewind (videotape, playaz!) to check the Fink’s announcing on that. The match continues at snail pace until Andre just leisurely slams Studd for a massive pop. So very slow. Sad to see Andre so immobile and he must have been in pain. Sadly for Andre he only knew wrestling and carried on until 1992. I love him dearly and seeing him struggle is painful to watch. It’d get much worse.
Final Rating: ¼*
Summary: Slow and plodding. This tape is not bad per se, it certainly does not offend in the manner that these tapes often can. It is just Andre was an attraction because of his impressive size, not for his world class matches. But that didn’t matter. If you want to see what Andre was all about before illness really took hold, then check it out. Just don’t expect to see classic wrestling on here.