The SmarK Rant for Wrestlemania Rewind Episode 2 – “Hulk vs. Andre”
Okey doke, so this was one of the original WWE Network series, and the concept is pretty simple. Take a famous Wrestlemania match, talk about the buildup for 40 minutes, and then show the match.
I actually reviewed Episode 1, about the original Wrestlemania main event, for Inside the Ropes magazine next month. But there’s a ton of episodes and the first one was so full of history-bending and bullshit that I just had to carry on with this series on my own. I really hope this one will be better behaved but given the subject matter I’m skeptical that it’s possible for certain people NOT to lie.
Let us take you back to the first Wrestlemania, as Hulk Hogan takes the WWF from “smoky arenas” to worldwide success. God I’m so sick of that “smoky arena” nonsense when they have shows on Network all the way back to the SEVENTIES showing MSG sellouts. And Stephanie pops in to note that “Hulk Hogan was the first true mega-star to come out of the WWE”. What does that even mean? Granted Bruno was still a non-person in 2014 when this came out but FUCK ME. What about Andre? Anyway, apparently Hogan’s “devout patriotism” and real-life superheroics turned him into a worldwide sensation. And we get Zack Ryder to tell us so! Was Brooklyn Brawler unavailable?
Next, we get a discussion of “passing the torch” in the industry, as apparently Hogan was already a huge star, sure, but he “had yet to be made by an icon of equal stature”. Yeah, bullshit, but whatever. That narrative has been retroactively added onto the match years later, it is what it is. Also we get the bullshit narrative that Andre was “undefeated for 15 years” which is yet another often-repeated lie on their part. To be clear, he was absolutely pinned AND slammed several times within the supposed 15 year streak, including losses to Canek and Antonio Inoki most notably. But there’s some nice Andre footage to go along with it at least. And they bring up his later usage as the face of “Obey” posters. Vince talks about how wrecked that Andre’s back was, and how he wanted to give Andre one last big payday. Andre told him “No, boss” but Vince talked him into it.
We discuss the storyline behind the match, as Andre had always been a competitor to Hogan’s popularity, but never wanted the title for himself. Until late 1986, when Hogan got a big trophy for being champion for three years, but Andre got a smaller trophy, which rightfully pissed him off. And we get a talking head from George Steele, which is always weird. So in February, Andre hires Bobby Heenan and confronts Hogan on Piper’s Pit, delivering a terrifying “LOOK AT ME WHEN I’M TALKING TO YOU” before ripping off the shirt and cross. Roddy Piper points out how important his role was, telling Hogan that he was bleeding to punctuate the betrayal. Piper: “What’s going on? I dunno but we better get a ticket!”
At the end of February, Hogan does a coked-out promo while signing the contract for the match while Andre calmly stares daggers through him and then gives him the ol’ French kiss-off with an “au revoir”. Vince decided to go for the jugular and booked the Pontiac Silverdome, which Bret Hart felt might have meant Vince had finally gone insane. Hogan, however, wasn’t worried about selling out, he was worried that there wouldn’t be enough seats for people to get in. Well that actually wasn’t a problem but you gotta put it over.
All the talking heads discuss who they were cheering for (Hogan) and who they thought would win (Andre), and then the numbers of ticket sales follow. And of course they talk about the attendance record for the millionth time to set up…
WWF title: Hulk Hogan v. Andre the Giant
Haven’t watched this one in a while so let’s hit it again. One thing that REALLY annoys me is how they insist on saying the match was for “the WWE championship” in the documentary. You’re literally rewriting history at that point. Andre of course had a massive back brace here to keep himself mobile. Gorilla notes that “win lose of draw” it’s the last time for Hogan to be wearing that version of the WWF title, but in fact he was wearing it for another year after this. After the famous staredown Hulk goes for the slam, but Andre falls on top for two. Now, to be clear, listening on headphones you can distinctly hear idiot referee Joey Marella’s hand hitting the mat TWICE, but not the third time, so it was definitely a two count. Plus, of course, Marella could barely count to three as it was. Andre beats on Hogan’s back and easily slams him twice before casually stepping on the back. Andre whips him into the corner, barely able to walk or follow up, and he slowly goes to work and throws the headbutt while Hogan does his usual sell job. Hulk finally slips away and makes a brief comeback, slugging Andre into the corner for the 10 turnbuckle shots, but he charges like a moron and runs into Andre’s boot. And then it’s bearhug time for Andre as THAT goes on a while. But of course Hogan’s arm is up on the third drop, which is actually a trope that has gone away in the era of tapping out, and Hulk slugs out of the bearhug before walking into a chop. It’s interesting how smartly they structured the match, basically 10 minutes of Andre not having to do anything but stand there and chop. They fight to the floor and Andre headbutts the post. That poor post. Hulk pulls up the mats, apparently a fan of Bill Watts, but tries a piledriver and Andre backdrops him onto the “concrete”, which looks suspiciously like plywood. Man Andre just looks so pained and immobile. Back in, Andre misses a big boot and Hogan kind of clotheslines him down and then does his Hulking Up without Andre’s assistance. And then, the famous slam, and the legdrop to finish at 11:34. Man, it’s just so transparent how LITTLE Andre was able to do here, as the entire climax of the match was lacking involvement from Andre in any significant manner and this match was just NO GOOD. ½* Like what even was the storyline of the match? There were no significant twists or turns in it and it just ended with Hogan slamming him.
Thankfully we do not get Hogan telling us afterwards about how he was worried about Andre shooting on him, or how Andre died two days later and weighed 800 pounds or whatever. He does thank Andre for giving back to the business like that, and we wrap it up.
Man, they just can’t help themselves but to stretch the truth with these, can they? Anyway, this was a very pleasant and breezy show and I’ll probably keep doing these, but keep the Bullshit Detector charged before watching them. Next up is the Austin-Michaels episode and both people involved in that one are typically pretty honest these days so hopefully it’ll be better for that kind of thing. But I really do like the format of this and enjoyed the show.