Wrestling: André the Giant

Andre taking out Jake "The Snake" Roberts
Andre the Giant, real name André Rene Roussimoff (Bulgarian: Андрей Рене Русимов; Polish: Andrzej Renat Russimow; (May 19, 1946 — January 27, 1993) was a professional wrestler well-known for his impressive sizenote . You may also remember him as Fezzik from the motion picture adaptation of The Princess Bride.

During his tenure in the WWF (or WWE as it is called now), he was dubbed "The Eighth Wonder of the World" due to his frame, and held a fifteen-year undefeated streak in the company (with the exception of disqualification and count-out losses). One of the most famous matches of his career was against Hulk Hogan for Hogan's WWF World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania III.note 

Unfortunately, his great size was due to gigantism, and he suffered intense pain throughout his body, especially as he got older. On January 27, 1993, shortly following his retirement from professional wrestling, he died in his sleep from congestive heart failure. In his honor, the WWF made Andre the first inductee into the company's Hall of Fame, established that same year.

As usual, That Other Wiki has a nice read-up on his life and career.

"Giant Tropes":

  • Acrofatic: Believe it or not, Andre wasn't always the lumbering behemoth we know from the late 80s - in his youth, he could execute dropkicks and move fairly fast for his size. He was also very agile during his early days in the WWF. However, by the time the mid 1980s rolled around, age and problems with acromegaly had forced him to slow down. He'd switched to his more well-known power wrestling style earlier on due to promoters wanting him to appear as an unstoppable force of nature, and moving like a wrestler of normal size detracted from that image.
  • Afro Asskicker: At times earlier in his career, sporting an afro while wrestling in territories such as what is now known as WWC. Big John Studd shaved it off.
  • The Alcoholic: André. Loved. Liquor. Because of his size, he could easily outdrink everyone at whatever function he was at; the stories about his drinking really get into extreme territory. Just check that link for some of the best. When he had to go into surgery, he was so large that the anesthetist had to base dosing on what it took to get Andre drunk. He was told by friends that it took a 1.75l bottle of vodka to get him buzzed.
    • One wrestler related to the one time he did pass out drunk, when he was in a hotel. His sheer size meant that even the combined strength of the wrestlers couldn't move him. So they simply left him asleep on the floor of the hotel lobby overnight. The hotel clerk ran into him in the morning and was in shock. The amount of liquor needed for that is believed to be about 119 bottles of beer.
    • Many of his friends often commented that when Andre was drunk, it was a very good thing that he still kept his gentle and easygoing personality, and was slow to anger (although pissing him off, drunk or sober, was a very bad idea). A man of his size and strength being a mean drunk would have meant a lot of property damage and injured bystanders.
      • Apparently most of his meals consisted of a 6 pack of beer and at least one entire bottle of wine.
  • Arch-Enemy: Kamala, Big John Studd, King Kong Bundy, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, Hulk Hogan, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, The Ultimate Warrior, Demolition
  • Ass Kicks You: He would back people into the turnbuckle then ram his backside into their gut.
  • Badass: Many wrestlers got over just by wrestling Andre and lasting, not actually beating him or even wrestling him to a draw.
  • Bash Brothers: Hulk Hogan, Jimmy Snuka
  • Big Eater: He had an appetite for food equal to his love for booze.
  • Big Fun: Partially because he knew his gigantism would be the death of him (and it was, in a roundabout way), he decided that he would party and drink as much as humanly possible.
  • The Big Guy: He was called Andre The Giant for a very good reason.
    • A friend of Andre's tells the story of a dinner where he tried to pick up the check (Andre refused to let anyone else pay for his prodigious meals) while Andre was in the bathroom. He was speaking with the waiter when Andre returned, tucked his friend under his arm and firmly replaced him in his seat. This particular friend was not exactly a midget himself.
  • Blatant Lies: When he was placed in the ring with someone like Ernie Ladd (6'9", and promoters couldn't bump him up because he was a well-known pro football player), even the thick lifts in his boots weren't enough to keep up the myth of the 7'4" giant. When he visited the Mexican set of Conan the Destroyer and took a picture with 7'1" Wilt Chamberlain, Vince McMahon Sr. did everything in his power to keep the photo from being widely circulated as it revealed André the Giant is actually shorter than Wilt.
  • Bullying a Dragon: A group of men once hassled him in a bar. After chasing them out, he turned over the car while they were in it.
    • On Andre's side, he once told a racial joke aimed at Bad News Allen/Bad News Brown. Bad News became the only person who ever got Andre to back down from a fight.
  • Cassandra Truth: Likely the reason André was never charged for the above incident when he chased four guys out of a bar, then flipped their car over while they were in it. Four drunk guys talking about an angry giant would have been just a little hard to believe, especially if the cops thought the overturned car was due to their own intoxication.
  • Charlie Brown from Outta Town: The Giant Machine. It drove Bobby Heenan and his men furious, as Giant Machine was billed from Asia, yet possesed a suspiciously familiar French drawl.
  • Comic Book Adaptation: He's the subject of an affectionate graphic biography by Box Brown.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: He is Hulk Hogan's Crowning Moment of Awesome. Specifically, Hogan was the first person to lift him up and bodyslam him, at least during the WWF's "Rock 'n' Wresting" era.note 
    • Although an obvious set-up, André was having increasing health problems which slowed him down considerably. Hogan practically danced around him in the ring making the spectacle somewhat believable.
    • Andre was the generator of such moments for many other wrestlers back before Hogan. Hogan wasn't the first, but he was the first to do so with a national audience. Before that, Andre would go around to various territories and put over wrestlers by having them slam him. In addition, Hogan (back in 1980, when the Hulkster was a villain and Andre was the good guy) slammed the big guy at least twice.
    • Andre let Hogan retain the championship at WrestleMania III, as Hogan knew the giant could defeat him in the ring if he wanted, regardless of what had been decided beforehand. For Hulk Hogan, it was Andre choosing to put Hogan over that made it the greatest moment in his career.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Here are but three American examples. Before Baby Doll became a valet in then NWA flagship Jim Crockett Promotions, she wrestled as Andrea The Lady Giant. The Team 3D Academy's Betsy Ruth, whose bigger than Baby Doll, turned into Andrea Mother in the Japanese promotion Diana. Then Ring Wars Carolina found a roller derby competitor even larger than Betsy, who went on to go by Andrea The Giant. (also seven year rule, as Baby Doll had long retired by then)
  • Finishing Move: Big splash, Elbow drop, Leg drop, Sitdown splash, vertical suplex.
  • Foreign Wrestling Heel: Played this role in Japan, as "Monster Rousimoff," for the better part of 15 years before his heel turn in the WWF. Oddly enough, he would make a Heel-Face Turn in Japan at around the same time. He worked most of that time for New Japan Pro Wrestling, and when he could no longer perform at the level required for a promotion that athletically focused; NJPW owner Antonio Inoki, out of appreciation for Andre's long service, negotiated a deal where he would move to All Japan Pro Wrestling and work comedy matches with "Giant" Baba as his tag team partner.
    • Oddly enough, averted in his heel runs in the US. Him being from France was usually acknowledged, but was never used as part of his character. Andre himself almost never brought it up in promos either.
  • Gasshole: The man really appreciated a good fart joke.
  • The Giant: It's in his NAME! Subverted in that he was actually a moderately skilled Greco-Roman wrestler.
  • Gentle Giant: His role as Fezzik in The Princess Bride.
    • In Real Life too. He kept a small farm where he would walk around and play with the animals because they didn't stare at him and Robin Wright says that he used to put his hand on her head to keep her warm during cold days on the set of The Princess Bride. Nearly every wrestler who worked for him, not to mention the people in the French village where he had grown up, had similar stories about him.
  • Hard Head: Though it may have as much been that his head was disproportionately large as opposed to how hard it was.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Suffered during his infamous run-in with Jake Roberts' snake, Damien. Needless to say, once Andre recovered, he didn't take to suffering this sudden illness very well.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Alongside the 5'6" Robin Wright in The Princess Bride.
  • Insists on Paying: André's meals were always huge and expensive, since André not only had huge dietary requirements, but also a great love of fine dining, and were always accompanied by prodigious amounts of liquor. He always insisted that he pay for his own food and drink, because of it.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Early in his career, he was around 400 lb/180 kg and could throw dropkicks. Acromegaly slowed him to Mighty Glacier later.
  • Like You Were Dying: André knew from his youth that he would likely die young. His entire life can be seen as a way to defy his fate and just enjoy himself.
  • Mean Character Nice Actor: Despite his occasional monster heel persona, he was very nice...as long as you didn't piss him off.
  • Mighty Glacier: In his later years, Andre lost most of his agility and speed, but kept his incredible strength. Very few wrestlers could get him off his feet.
  • Odd Friendship: With the playwright Samuel Beckett. Apparently, it started when Beckett would drive Andre to school because he couldn't fit in the school bus.
  • Off The Scale: The anesthetist mentioned above had to base dosage in that manner because most hospital charts simply would not account for someone of Andre's size.
    • An issue Andre often faced was that not only due to his height, but also the bizarre proportions his gigantism caused, most public services and products couldn't accomodate him. He had to special order shoes and clothes, and it was difficult for him to even find a hotel with beds that fit him. This was especially noteable in Japan, which Andre often visited as part of his tours.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: Pretty much André's trademark, taking punches and throw attempts like they are nothing.
  • Square/Cube Law: He died young because his body was violating it.
  • Squash Match: Several, often of the handicap (André vs. 2 or 3 guys at once) variety.
    • This was an Enforced Trope during his early tours of the US. Since his English was limited, he was put in handicap matches with his traveling partner Frank Valois (who would call all the spots), and a small job guy (who would take all the moves after receiving his cues in English from Valois).
  • Super Strength: As a side effect of his gigantism, Andre was incredibly strong.
  • Tag Team:
  • The Unintelligible: His thick accent combined with a slight jaw deformity often made it difficult to hear what he was saying.
  • Unrelated Father and Son: The Giant (Paul Wight) in WCW was supposedly André's "son." The only thing the two had in common was their disease, they didnt even have the same nationality, as Andre was French while Wight is American.
  • Ur Example: The first wrestler inducted into the WWF Hall Of Fame. The WWF Hall of fame was established in the first place to honor André after his death.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: During their feud, Jake "The Snake" Roberts exploited André's fear of snakes with the help of his pet snake Damien. Notably averted less than two years earlier when Andre was a guest on the Snake Pit (hosted by a then-heel Roberts) when Andre merely scoffed at Damien, calling him a garter snake.
  • You Talk Too Much: Andre was one who gladly accepted suggestions and feedback from his fellow wrestlers, and often had great cooperation in helping plot out matches. But not always. One example came in planning the special "WWF Wrestlers vs. NFL Players" battle royal at Wrestlemania 2; Bill Fralic, then an offensive guard with the Atlanta Falcons, was rambling on and talking about what he thought would make a great battle royal, but only succeeded in getting on everyone's nerves. Andre was patient but finally when he saw everyone had enough, Andre finally spoke up and said, "You talk too much!" That shut Fralic up for the rest of the rehearsals.

Alternative Title(s):

Andre The Giant