HBO recently debuted its much anticipated documentary, André The Giant. Notably, in the film, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon talked about convincing the undefeated giant to return to the squared circle and how their relationship soured as André's pro wrestling career fizzled. Also, McMahon and Hulk Hogan shared their recollections surrounding the finish of the WrestleMania 3 main event between Hogan and André The Giant.
According to McMahon, he convinced André to come back to WWE to main event WrestleMania 3 and sell out the massive Pontiac Silverdome.
"André knew that he wasn't long for the world and he was hurting. He was really, really hurting and I went over to visit with him. And André told me, 'I'm done, boss.' When he said 'done', he meant, 'not just wrestling - after this I'm done.' Basically, 'I'm going to go die.' He told me about his neck and his back and things of that nature and what it would take to have it fixed, but he was not interested at all. And when I spoke to him about, 'well, here's why I came over, because there's a building in Pontiac, Michigan that holds 93,000 people and I think we could set up the promotion correctly and I think it would sell it out.'" McMahon continued, "André wanted to have a reason to live, not a reason to die. And he knew, 'wow, I could have a new lease on life if I could get through this operation. The allure of Hogan pulled André through."
McMahon recalled that Hogan, also known as Terry Bollea, was worried that André was not going to put him over at WrestleMania 3.
"Hogan was really concerned that André wasn't going to 'put him over' and André did not want Hogan to know. Terry had so much respect for André that he wouldn't just come up to André and go, 'are you going to put me over?' He wouldn't do that because that would be disrespectful, so there was always this bit of doubt. He kept coming to me, 'are you sure the boss is going to put me over?' 'No problem.' 'Are you sure?' 'He's going to do it, Terry.'" McMahon added, "André loved to bust balls and he was busting Hogan's. And out of respect to André, I'm going to go right along with it, so Hogan was concerned all the way up to the day of the show."
To Hogan's recollection, he did not know he was going over even after André performed the match exactly how Hogan drew it up and called for both 'the bodyslam heard around the world' and Hogan's running leg drop finish.
"If Vince knew the finish, I don't remember him telling me that 'you're going to win'. I never remember him saying that to me. I never remember him saying, 'you're winning!'" Hogan rememebered, "[André's] back was really bad. He probably should not have been in the ring. Usually, he'd grab the bearhug. I'd jump up and down, and he'd hold me up in the air, and rag doll me. I wouldn't let him do any of that. I just stood up straight, so he could stand up as straight as he could. Finally, out of nowhere [André demanded] 'slam!' 'Oh, s--t! He called, 'slam!'' Right when he hit [the mat], I head him go, 'leg drop!' And then, I hit the leg drop thinking he was going to kick out. And he didn't kick out."
Also of note, McMahon indicated that André turned on him at the end of his pro wrestling career, feeling that he was used.
"When his career was over, he had no value to himself," McMahon stated. "'No longer am I going to be around the boys, and socializing, and things of that nature. I'm stuck here in North Carolina.' And I was responsible for the fact that business was good and everybody was going on without him. André, more or less, wanted to blame me and resented me a bit because he knew the [sports entertainment] business was going on without him. André resented that a bit too, that his time was up, damn it, and yet I was going to continue on. And, sometimes, it can even be a situation whereby, 'what? You used me.' No longer when I was in André's presence was it a warm admiration that we had for each other. It wasn't there."
Check out the film on HBO. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit HBO's André The Giant with an H/T to WrestlingINC for the transcription.