Saturday, May 12, 2018

On The Air: Andre The Giant (2018)

He was billed as the 8th Wonder of the World. Over 7 feet tall, a worldwide phenomenon, not just in wrestling, but, as the HBO documentary on his life tells us, Andre the Giant was also a gentle, tortured soul.

Andre Roussimoff began growing to his final height as a teenager in France. In a wrestling career that spanned nearly 30 years, he competed on six continents, and the only World title he won was famously tainted 30 years ago, the first screwjob to be telecast live on broadcast television, when, with the help of a referee bought off by Ted DiBiase, Andre defeated his former friend, Hulk Hogan, to become World Wrestling Federation champ. As part of the deal, he promptly gave the belt to DiBiase.

That match is not included in the movie. Instead, they only go as far as an earlier meeting with Hogan at Wrestlemania a year earlier. Hogan gets quite a bit of screen time, not only being interviewed, but also a quick summary of his rise to the top of the wrestling world is inserted to set up the match in Pontiac, Michigan in 1987.

Always one to change the story when it suits him, Hogan claims that he wasn't sure how that match would end, but that he did outline the early portion of the bout for Vince K. McMahon (who was also extensively interviewed). If you believe that, I think I can get a price on a bridge not far from home.

In addition to Vince & Shane McMahon and Hogan, Ric Flair, Jerry Lawler, Gene Okerlund, Gino Brito, and actors Arnold Schwarzenegger, Cary Elwes, & Billy Crystal, the latter two being Andre's co-stars in "The Princess Bride", and director Rob Reiner are interviewed, along with Andre's friends & family, and former WWE ref Tim White, who was Andre's "handler" on the road.

There is also a good amount of footage from "Bride". By the time of the film and the Wrestlemania bout, Andre was clearly in ill health. We learn that Andre also played rugby as a youth, and, as a joke, tried out for the NFL's Washington Redskins, before it became fashionable to bash them because of the team name, well before current WWE Universal champ Brock Lesnar famously tried out for the Minnesota Vikings.

Check the trailer:

The film is currently available On Demand (check with your cable provider), and may still be in rotation on HBO.

Rating: A.

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