Andre the Giant: Ranking His 10 Best (and Most Surprisingly Great) Matches
Despite how often wrestling promotions have tried, there will never be another Andre the Giant.
Of course, his size and appearance were a great attraction, a throwback to the circus strongman, but ultimately his magnetism and ring skills transformed him into much more than that.
Andre helped tell some great stories inside a ring over the years.
Whether battling men half his size or supposed giants that stood toe to toe with him, Andre filled wrestling's historical vaults with entertaining matches. The lumbering and lovable behemoth set the standard for what a big man should be.
10. Vs. Randy Savage Saturday Night’s Main Event
In the end, this match was more about Andre and Jake Roberts' feud, but the work between the Giant and Savage was outstanding.
Andre's performance against the Macho Man was surprisingly fast-paced. There is the usual wear down offense, but his chops and headbutts were delivered with an extra gusto.
The match made Savage look resilient and gutsy, while making Andre look invincible aside from his personal kryptonite, his real life fear of snakes.
The crowd screamed throughout, fully appreciating seeing two legends put on a great show.
9. Vs. Hulk Hogan Saturday Night Main Event 1988
There is very little actual action in this brief match. Though the shocking twists it took were enough to earn it Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Match of the Year award.
What made this so compelling was the soap opera that exploded after the bell rang.
After a sloppy suplex, Andre pinned Hogan. A stunned crowd watched as the ref counted to three though Hogan clearly kicked out.
Ted DiBiase had apparently paid a ref to get plastic surgery to look exactly like ref Earl Hebner. This doppleganger cheated Hogan.
After Andre won in dubious fashion, DiBiase bought the WWF title from him.
The bizarreness of the moment shocked the crowd and remains one of the most interesting angles.
8. Vs. Big John Studd Cage Match
Two titans bashed each other in the confines of a steel cage as their girth pushed cage walls outward and had the ropes rattling around them.
There were few guys who it made sense to be able to stand up to Andre and even Big John Studd looked a bit puny next to Andre.
They had a number of these matches during their feud to determine "the one true giant" and they're all nearly identical.
Studd and Andre would brawl, the action moving at a grinding pace before Andre finished it off with an impressive move from the top rope.
7. Vs. Hulk Hogan Showdown at Shea
It's surreal to see Hogan as a heel before his nWo days. Accompanied by Freddie Blassie and wearing a gold cape, his gimmick fit him awkwardly, but it was still obvious he was going to be a giant star.
This serves a prelude to their more famous matches to come.
Mick Foley and Michael Cole provide reflective commentary in this archival version. Foley points out that Hogan slammed Andre in this match long before the iconic slam at WrestleMania.
The Hulkster loads his elbow pad with a mystery object post-match and busts the big guy open with it. This furthered their rivalry and gave the fans at Shea Stadium their money's worth.
6. Vs. Nick Bockwinkel Comiskey Park 1976
Though the footage here is incomplete and low quality, this match couldn't be left out. It was during these years that Andre's body had not failed him yet, that his matches were longer and moved quicker.
Battling for the AWA World Heavyweight Title, Nick Bockwinkel played the ultimate foil.
He sold every one of Andre's moves, making him look even more dominating. Unlike the behemoths Andre would face throughout most of his career, Bockwinkel was more than talented enough to shoulder the wrestling load.
They battled that night to a no contest, both men coming out of the smoke looking stronger.
5. Vs. Killer Khan Mongolian Stretcher Match 1981
Early that year, Andre injured his ankle in a boring non-wrestling fashion. The promoters decided to blame it on Killer Khan thus starting an enthralling feud.
By the time Andre healed, fans were salivating to see him pound Khan into the ground.
Though they've had better matches, this one was powered by that vengeful energy. When Andre picks up the stretcher and swings it at Khan's head, the crowd becomes frenzied.
Khan, a shrieking, rabid wild man was a perfect fit to face Andre. Their battle where Andre was supposedly injured was awarded PWI's Match of the Year.
4. Elimination Match Survivor Series 1987
The first-ever Survivor Series was teeming with excitement, fans thrilled with the novelty of the elimination tag team match.
Their star power for this one was impressive. Hulk Hogan, Rick Rude, Paul Orndorff, Bam Bam Bigelow, King Kong Bundy and Andre were all involved.
The heel team had the size advantage with One Man Gang, Bundy and Andre all on one squad.
There was a frantic buzzing from the fans when Andre and Hogan faced each other. The match is one of the Hulkster's speedier performances, tossing right hands at any available head.
As much as everyone anticipated Andre and Hogan locking horns, the star of the match was Bam Bam Bigelow who was clearly pumped from the opening bell.
He plays the outnumbered hero unwilling to give up. He eliminates a number of the heels before finally succumbing to the power of Andre.
3. Vs. Antonio Inoki
Andre was beloved in Japan and in this match he faced the most famous Japanese wrestler of all time in this clash of megastars.
The contrast of brute force vs. submission style wrestling is compelling.
Inoki attacked with quick kicks and top rope moves. Andre headbutted and chopped in his usual fashion.
Inoki doesn't often play the role of David, but does so here igniting the crowd with a clean victory over wrestling's greatest Goliath.
2. Vs. Stan Hansen NJPW 1981
Andre's matches with Hogan teemed with marketability. His ring work with Stan Hansen was the best of his career.
The rough and tumble Hansen brawling and grappling with Andre was like seeing two bears tear each other apart. Both men were known for not holding anything back on their opponents and hearing their fists pound on their flesh, it's clear how true that is.
This is another case of someone bodyslamming Andre before the famous WrestleMania slam, but as it happened before the age of the internet miles and miles away, it for all intents and purposes didn't happen.
Hansen and Andre make out of violence here, dropping powerful blows and slugging it out as their sweat shined in the spotlights.
1. Vs. Hulk Hogan WrestleMania III
One of the most famous matches of all time had the ultimate build up and everything played out perfectly.
Despite his body being in bad shape, Andre helped give this match immortality.
It gave us the most iconic stare down of all time, Gorilla Monsoon’s famous quote about "the irresistible force meeting the immovable object" and the bodyslam that will be played over and over again.
Hogan crawled around the outside of the ring, desperate and unwilling to lose. It seemed impossible that the Hulkster could overcome the big man.
Hogan and Andre's star power and charisma exploded that night. That match was the foundation on which Hulkamania and WrestleMania and ultimately WWE was built upon.