Hulk Hogan has said a lot of despicable stuff in his life, but among the most shameful things to come out his mouth is his claim that André the Giant died only days after their legendary WrestleMania III showdown. Like a lot of crazy things Hogan has said, it’s almost become accepted canon, even though it’s not even close to true. The fact is, André lived for almost another six years before passing away on January 27, 1993. Most informed wrestling fans know this, and yet André’s final years often go ignored, with most bios treating WrestleMania III as the final big event of his life.
The reality is, André continued to wrestle, live large and rack up impressive achievements right until the final bell. Here’s a few interesting facts about the part of André the Giant’s story that often goes untold…
André’s minute with the WWF World Championship was the only singles title reign he ever had.
Despite being dead, André the Giant somehow managed to hit one last major career peak after WrestleMania III. On February 4, 1988, André would win the WWF World Championship from Hulk Hogan on the NBC network TV special, The Main Event. The win was a tainted one, as André won thanks to evil ref Earn Hebner and then immediately handed the belt over to Ted DiBiase, leading to the title being vacated. That said, André did officially win the title, and he did it in front of a massive audience – The Main Event drew an absurd 15.2 rating and 33 million viewers, making it the most-watched pro wrestling event in history.
Unbelievably, the WWF Championship, which André held for all of one minute, was the only singles title of his career. He won a variety of tag team championships during his time in wrestling, but nobody wanted to put a singles belt on him as he was generally pushed as a special attraction rather than a title contender. But hey, it doesn’t matter much if you only win one championship, as long as it’s the big one.
The Giant’s last American television appearance was for WCW.
André the Giant was a WWF man through and through, wrestling almost his entire career for the company. In the ’70s, André traveled around the world competing in various territories, but he was managed by Vince McMahon Sr., who lent him out to these other promotions for a fee. Once Vince McMahon Jr. took over and transformed the company into a global empire, André remained an exclusive WWF commodity.
But the early ’90s, André had deteriorated to the point where even tag matches were physical torture, and at SummerSlam ’91, he made his last WWF on-air appearance, managing the Bushwhackers in a match against the Natural Disasters. WWF and André parted ways, but the Giant wasn’t done with wrestling, making his final U.S. television appearance for WWF’s bitter arch rival, WCW.
The curtain call came in September 1992 at Clash of Champions XX, which featured a number of WWF stalwarts showing up to cash a WCW check, including Bruno Sammartino and André. The sight of André the Giant being interviewed by Tony Schiavone and hanging out with Teddy Long on WCW television was more than a bit bizarre, but getting to see the Giant on TV one more time was worth the cognitive dissonance for most fans.
André ended his career wrestling in Japan and Mexico.
André wasn’t just making WCW red carpet appearances during the last couple years of his life; he continued to wrestle a full schedule, as well. Most of his final in-ring appearances involved him tagging with fellow wrestling Goliath Giant Baba in All Japan Pro Wrestling. André had to place both hands on Baba’s shoulders to steady himself as he made his way to the ring, and he spent most of his time on the apron, but once he tagged in, he still gave audiences everything his failing body would allow. Even though he would work, at most, a couple minutes per match, André could often barely move for a day or more after wrestling.