DVD Review: Andre the Giant
The WWE, realizing what a cash cow the DVD format is right now, is putting out several old Coliseum video tape releases on the new digital format. Later this year a rumored six disc Hulk Hogan DVD set will be released. The biggest draws of these DVDs are the great, cheap, price. I was at Best Buy this past week picking up my new Compaq Laptop and decided to pick up this Andre the Giant DVD since all the new Rob Van Dam DVDs were sold out.
I thought this would be cool though because I always loved Andre the Giant and distinctly remember a WWE house show way back in the day in my very own Manchester, New Hampshire, in which I was convinced Andre was at least 10 feet tall. I don’t care how bad the angles look in retrospect, I was glued to my TV back when Andre showed up on Piper’s Pit and demanded a match with Hulk Hogan. For God’s sake, I was such a mark that I desperately wanted to see a house show that had The Machines on it after reading about that goofy angle in the Apter mags.
The disc has ten matches set throughout Andre’s career. It is always crazy watching old WWE matches and seeing how insanely loose the ropes were compared to today. There’s also the commentary from Lord Alfred Hayes. For those of you who still think Michael Cole sucks, I implore you to listen to Hayes and understand how bad it can really be. I can only imagine that wrestling in hell has play by play by Hayes and Stagger Lee Marshall with color commentary by Bruno Sammartino. Hayes is actually our host for the evening, a role that Todd Grisham and that goof Marc
Lloyd play today. Hayes said that in the mid ‘60s he was asked by a promoter in France to pick up Andre for his second pro match. Can you imagine seeing that odd couple step out of a car?
1) Andre the Giant vs. Moondog Rex. (08/01/81) During the match Hayes said that all of Andre’s ring gear was custom made in France. Shockingly a 6’10” 400 pound man can’t buy off the rack. Didn’t one of the Moondogs die in the ring last year down in Memphis? I think that was Spot. Really quick match, although Hayes says most of Andre’s were, that ended with a splash.
2) 18-Man Battle Royal including Andre the Giant, Sgt. Slaughter, Big John Studd, Jimmy Snuka, Pat Patterson, Hollywood Hogan, Adrian Adonis, Dick Murdoch, Paul Orndorff, Hulk Hogan, Mil Mascaras (WTF?!)
The Iron Sheik & Tito Santana. Thanks to Marvel Comics pulling the copyright, Hulk Hogan is billed as “Hollywood” Hogan on the DVD box. I thought this was great, seeing all the guys I watched growing up in a battle royal, but Royal Rumble this was not. Andre wins after a finish that came down to him, Murdoch and Adonis ( the East/West Connection).
3) Andre the Giant vs. Black Gordman & Great Goliath in a 2 man handicap match. (01/12/76) Gorman and Goliath are stereotypical WWE jobbers. The entire front row of chairs on every side of the ring of this match were empty. Weird. Andre won after sitting on both guys at once. Yes, sitting.
4) Andre the Giant vs. Jack Evans & Johnny Rodz, & Joe Butcher Nova. Sadly, this is not Ring of Honor’s Jack Evans in the match.
5) Andre the Giant vs. Gorilla Monsoon (w/the Grand Wizard). Monsoon, like Alfred Hayes, is just a guy I couldn’t picture as a wrestler because I only saw him as an announcer. Hayes apologizes for the quality of the video and says this is “exclusive” to the tape. This was in Roberto Clemente stadium, in Puerto Rico, after a rain storm. Monsoon is wearing boxing gloves as this is during that period when
Muhammad Ali was about to face Antonio Inoki in Japan. Ali actually faced Monsoon as a warm up match. Very interesting to see this footage.
***Interview with Andre the Giant and Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka by a very young Vince McMahon.
6) Andre the Giant & Jimmy Snuka vs. the Wild Samoans (w/Captain Lou Albano). (02/18/83) Commentary by Vince McMahon and Gorilla Monsoon, who were THE voice of the WWE when I was growing up.
7) Andre the Giant vs. the Masked Superstar. (02/20/84) The announcers for this match are Gorilla Monsoon and Pat Patterson. You can’t put a price on Patterson’s commentary and the way he talks. Superstar was of course, years later, part of the Machines with Andre.
8) Andre the Giant & S.D. Jones vs. Big John Studd & Ken Patera (w/Bobby Heenan). (12/15/84) Hayes says this has become known as the legendary “haircut match.” Oh god, Sammartino is on color commentary. Holy cow! I just marked out as Hillbilly Jim was in the audience. After the match Patera and Studd cut Andre’s hair, or as Vince McMahon put it, “rape the dignity of Andre the Giant!” WTF, I’ve read people bury this DVD, they are officially insane.
***Andre the Giant visits with Lord Alfred Hayes and Vince McMahon on Tuesday Night Titans. I can’t believe what my eyes are seeing.
9) Andre the Giant vs. Ken Patera. (01/21/85) This was a revenge match for Andre and the production values were noticeably improving for the WWE. Mean Gene Okerlund and Gorilla Monsoon were on commentary. Heenan showed why he is probably the greatest manager ever in this match with his shenanigans.
***Another segment with Andre on Tuesday Night Titans. This was to set up Andre’s match at WrestleMania I against Big John Studd. All I can think of when watching McMahon is how much this looks like one of those Kevin Trudeau scam infomercials where he tries to sell pills that can beat cancer.
10) Andre the Giant vs. Big John Studd. (03/31/85) WrestleMania I, the $15,000 slam match. Michael Cole and Tazz do the announcing here. I have no idea why this is and I can’t remember who did the original announcing job. You should all know the story. Andre slams Studd and throws the money into the crowd before Bobby Heenan takes the bag o’ money away. I didn’t remember the WWE experimenting with picture in a picture way back then.
Overall Thoughts: This is a steal at the price. Sure, it’s not Ultimate Andre the Giant Collection but it is a damn good piece of nostalgia. I was ready to completely bury this disc and instead give it a big thumbs up. You can buy this DVD
Derek Burgan loved seeing Andre vs. Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III. You can reach Derek
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