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Andre The Giant

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Andre

As WWF Champion in 1988

Andre The Giant -- (born May 19, 1946, as Andre Rene Roussmioff, in Grenoble, France) was the most well-known professional wrestler before the advent of Hulkamania. Andre was discovered by Lord Alfred Hayes, who convinced him to start wrestling. Andre learned the trade under the guidance of Edouard Carpentier, who brought Andre to Canada where he was an instant hit but Carpentier didn't have enough resources to promote him, so he offered Andre to Vince McMahon Sr. and the World Wide Wrestling Federation in March 1973.

In the WWWF, Andre The Giant was able to travel more extensively to avoid wearing out his novelty as a giant in any one location. For the next 14 years, Andre was the most popular wrestler in the business. According to the 1974 Guinness Book of World Records, he was also the highest paid wrestler in history (earning upwards of $400,000). Despite his immense popularity, Andre The Giant never held a championship during this time because it would create an issue in his having to lose the title. Also, the popular belief in those days was that if a wrestler was a draw on his own, then he did not need a championship.

Outside of the wrestling world, Andre the Giant starred as Fezzik in the 1987 cult classic The Princess Bride.

Andrebelt

Giant-size WWF Championship

Eventually, Andre The Giant got tired of his popularity, especially the incessant barrage of fans asking for autographs and photographs at every opportunity, so Andre turned his back on the fans by siding with Bobby Heenan and challenging Hulk Hogan for the WWF World title at WrestleMania III. In anticipation for the match, a separate championship belt was created in order to fit both men in case Andre won. However, he lost the match and Hogan held the newly created championship. Over 10 months later, Andre beat Hogan for the championship under extremely controversial circumstances on The Main Event, but he immediately surrendered the title to Ted DiBiase as previously agreed.

Several months later, Andre teamed with Haku as The Colossal Connection to win the WWF World Tag Team championship from Demolition and they reigned as champions until April 1990. After the match, Bobby Heenan blamed Andre for the loss, slapping him across the face. Andre paint-brushed Heenan and kicked Haku out of the ring cart to leave the arena on his own.

Andre The Giant was ready to return to the WWF the following year, but a broken leg prevented his return into the ring. He backed Big Boss Man at WrestleMania VII against Heenan family members. Andre also backed The Rockers in tag team matches overseas. His last televised US appearance was on a September 1992 episode of WCW Clash of the Champions and his last official match was in Japan with Giant Baba against Demolition in 1990. Andre The Giant passed away on January 27, 1993, while in Paris to attend his father's funeral.

Immediately after his passing, Vince McMahon announced the creation of the WWE Hall of Fame and named Andre The Giant as its first inductee.

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