By late 1986, the two most popular stars in wrestling were Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan. They were portrayed as best friends for the past few years. In early 1987, they both received awards on Pipers Pit. First, Hulk received an award for being champ for 3 years. Andre came out and said that 3 years is a long time to be champ. The next week Andre received an award for being undefeated. Hulk came out to congratulate Andre and Andre walked away. The next week on Piper’s Pit, Jesse Ventura said he could get Andre to appear if Piper could get Hogan on the show. The next week, Andre came out with Hulk’s enemy, manager Bobby Heenan, and demanded a title shot.
The North American Indoor Attendance Record
Despite the way the match was promoted, Hulk & Andre have fought in the past (most notably at Shea Stadium on 8/9/80) and Andre wasn’t undefeated. The big match was scheduled to take place on March 29,1987, in the Pontiac Silverdome at WrestleMania III. The match had an attendance of over 90,000 people. The match was also one of the first successful pay per view events for that new industry. The match itself saw Andre almost beat Hogan in the opening seconds when Hulk couldn’t pick the Giant up. After a disputed 2 count, Andre would dominate most of the match. Hulk would eventually “Hulk Up” and slam the Giant which led to a victory for the Hulkster.
Survivor Series 87
Hulk and Andre would meet up on Thanksgiving night in a 10 man tag team elimination match. Early in the match Hogan was counted out. Andre would win this match as sole survivor. After this match, Hogan came out and attacked Andre.
Every Man Has A Price
In the middle of 1987, a new type of bad guy entered the WWF. “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase wanted to use his wallet instead of wrestling ability to become champion. He wanted to buy the title from Hulk, but Hogan refused. Plan B for DiBiase was to get someone to win the title and then give it to him. The man he chose for this act was Andre the Giant.
Wrestling Returns to Primetime TV on 2/5/88
In a match that was televised on live on NBC, Andre beat Hulk Hogan for the title even though Hulk’s shoulder was clearly up by the count of 2. Then a second referee appeared in the ring that looked identical to the ref that cost Hulk the title. While all this confusion was going on, Andre gave the title to Ted DiBiase. The next week, President Jack Tunney ruled the title vacant and that a tournament would be held at WrestleMania IV. In addition, Hulk and Andre would receive first round byes and fight each other in the second round.
Andre and Hulk would fight to a double DQ in their match. The tournament finals featured Ted DiBiase vs. Randy Savage (who was Hogan’s best friend at this point). When Andre started to interfere in the bout, Hogan came out when Miss Elizabeth pulled him out of the locker room. The match ended with Hogan costing DiBiase the title and Randy Savage becoming the new WWF champion.
The teams of Hogan & Savage fought Andre & DiBiase at the first SummerSlam 8/29/88. For this match, Jesse Ventura was the referee. Andre and DiBiase had the advantage until Miss Elizabeth went on the ring apron and took her dress off revealing a swimsuit. This distraction enabled Hogan & Savage to win the match.
This would be the final time Hulk & Andre would meet up in a ring. By this point, Andre was in terrible physical condition. He would eventually retire as a good guy when he beat up Bobby Heenan. Sadly, while in Paris a few days after attending his father’s funeral, he passed away on January 27, 1993, at the age of 46 from a fatal heart attack.