If you grew up in the 1970’s or 80s, whether you were a wrestling fan or not, you knew who Andre the Giant was. He was promoted and perceived as a bigger than life character. Growing up in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, we knew him as Le Géant Ferré, so the name Andre The Giant always felt strange to me. When I heard about this documentary coming out on HBO, I knew I had to watch it, and it did not disappoint.
Le Géant Ferré was born Andre Roussimoff in a small northern French village called Moliens in 1946. In his teenage years, not only he started to grow quickly, he grew abnormally. He discovered only later in life that he suffered from a rare condition called Acromegaly (basically it is a hormonal disorder in which the body produces excessive amounts of GH hormone which is a growth hormone).
Andre started to train as a wrestler in his teens and soon after he began travelling the wrestling circuits. He did not want to have a quiet farm life in a small village, he told his family that he “wanted to become somebody”. He started in Europe, in which he wrestled under various names such as Jean Ferré, Monster Eiffel Tower, and Monster Roussimoff to name a few. He started to wrestle in North America right here in Montreal at the Verdun Auditorium. They interviewed Gino Brito, a popular local wrestler at the time. It was nice to see an old local (Montreal) wrestler being interviewed. Too bad they did not interview others like the Rougeau Brothers (Jacques and Raymond) since they worked for the WWE for a long time. The Rougeau Family were heavily involved in the local wrestling scene at the time and I think could of give some interesting insight on the Giant.
Andre the Giant kept moving from promotion to promotion during this era. As a kid, I always wondered why moving around since he was so popular in Montreal. The documentary explained that the promoters had to move Andre around from region to region so that he would not wear out his welcome, beating one opponent after another. At the time, wrestling was regional. Every region had its own promotion.
They were a number of people in the wrestling business who had lots of anecdotes. Jerry “The King” Lawler, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Mean Gene Okerland and Vince McMahon to name a few, all had stories about his epic drinking, his flatulence that left no one indifferent, and how he was a gentleman. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger had a funny story about him. They mention the the various roles he held on TV and in the movies. However, despite all the fun and games, Andre refused any treatment to stabilize the Acromegaly. He felt that this would interfere with his wrestling career. This led to him being in pain almost all the time, hence explaining why he drank so heavily. In my opinion, this is Andre’s tragedy which ultimately ended his life.
The highlight of the documentary is when they discuss the Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant match at Wrestlemania 3. Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon explain that this match was the passing of the torch from the old school wrestling which was made up of regional promotions, to the new one national promotion. Hulk Hogan wrote the entire match out, however it was not until the actual match that Hulk and Vince knew that Andre would do the job for Hulk and put him on top. Hulk Hogan demonstrated a lot of respect towards Andre. As for Vince, well he practically admitted that he knew Andre was in pain and could barely move when setting up this match. Andre was a performer and was until the very end. After this match, this is when the WWE went viral and exploded. It just blew the competition away.
Check out the Wrestlmania 3 match in its entirety below:
Andre the Giant died on January 27, 1993 in Paris, France of Heart Failure. He was 46 years old.
This is a documentary for any wrestling fan who loved the old wrestling days. There are many anecdotes of a larger than life persona who everything that André The Giant touched or did felt like it was epic and legendary. It looked like his mere presence was legendary because he was such a gentleman: a gentle giant. It makes you wonder if he died because of his condition or because of the grinding nature of the wrestling business. The reality is probably a bit of both. The majority of the documentary is mostly done from the point of view of WWE. They did include interviews from his family, however it does feel like the WWE influenced the storytelling of this great career. Nonetheless, it is a great overview of one of the greatest sports entertainer that ever wrestled.
I give this documentary 4 out of 5 turn buckles. I love documentaries of the older wrestling era when wrestling was built on larger than life characters.
If you saw the documentary, we want to hear from you. Do you agree with me or I am completely out to lunch? We want to know.
Thank you for stopping by. Until next time, keep on smiling!!!!