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TO THE GIANT AMONG US

Part 4: from Sports Illustrated 12/21/81
Solie's Classics Reprint


Volume 4, Issue 477 - June 27, 1999
Editor's Note: I am going to be out of town on business this coming Monday evening (June 28) and will not be back until Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday is my 25th wedding anniversary, so naturally I will not be writing any newsletters that night. What I am trying to say is that there will be a Monday Night Wars Edition this week but it will probably not be published until Wednesday evening.

TO THE GIANT AMONG US

from Sports Illustrated, December 21, 1981

By Terry Todd

Part 4

As he globe-hops, the Giant usually avoids this kind of unpleasantness by exercising great care in his choice of restaurants. He takes the same sort of delight Hemingway did in scheduling his travel arrangements so as to arrive at the time and place that will allow him a chance to have a word with the owner and local friends and sample the speciality of the house. Although he admits to a slight preference to French cuisine, he introduced me to a Korean restaurant in Manhattan, a delicatessen in Montreal and an Italian place in Albany, all of which were excellent and all of which were owned by people who welcomed Andre as if he were family. But the spot he seemed most pleased to show me was, understandably, a delightful Montreal restaurant, *Le Picher*, which he owns and served a salmon mousse that was, as a friend of mine once said about a $200 bottle of German wine, all it should have been.

As I traveled with him, it was a pleasure to see how well liked Andre appears to be, by people in the game and outside it. He visited the kitchen of the restaurants he favors for a word with the staff, and wherever he wrestled he always made a special effort to speak to all the other wrestlers on the card, even, indeed especially, the men working the preliminary bouts. In bars he never failed to give his attention to those who seemed to need it most, shaking the hands of the men and touching the shoulders or the hair of the women, many of whom seem drawn to him, as women often are to men who in one way or other represent power or majesty. Everywhere he goes there are women, women who range widely in socioeconomic level, age and interest in pro wrestling, and he treats them all the same - splendidly. Andre simply enjoys the company of women, and they enjoy his. He somehow conveys to them, as he softly rumbles to them, *de profundis*, over a beer or four, that they will receive no shabby treatment at the hands of the Giant.

No doubt many people, both men and women, seeing the photographs accompanying this article, will find Andre awful in the old sense of the word, perhaps grotesque, a *monstre par excés*, but to see him move, to speak with him and to watch him in the world, one is more likely to form instead the impression that all aspects of the man cohere.

Even his level of energy is outsized. Many of his fellow wrestlers testify to Andre's ability to outlast them all when it comes to staying up for several days at a time, drinking, playing cards and traveling to and from the matches. Left by his lifestyle with no real opportunity for hobbies, Andre's primary interests seem to be in cramming as much time, friendship, conversations and provender as possible into his daily life. He is aware, of course, that of the few men who have ever been his size, most have fallen far short of their allotted three-score years and 10, but he seems outwardly unconcerned by this, and eager for the future. "I have had good fortune," he says, "and I am grateful for my life. If I were to die tomorrow, I know I have eaten more good food, drunk more beer and fine wine, had more friends and seen more of the world than most men evern will. I have had everything in life but a family, and I hope to have that one day. For now, I know a family wouldn't work, because of my traveling, but one day, who knows, I might myself have a giant for a grandson."

By all accounts, Andre's health is excellent. Until last spring, in fact, when he suffered a broekn ankle, he had never been to a hospital. When he did check in, however, he caused his usual stir.

Dr. Harris S. Yett, the orthopedic surgeon at Boston's Beth Israel Hospital who repaired Andre's broken ankle last May, said the Giant was so uniformly large that all aspects of his hospitalization were difficult. Andre had suffered a bimalleolar fracture of his left ankle in a bout on April 13, when Killer Khan, a 280-pounder, mistimed a jump off the top turnbuckle. Not realizing the ankle was broken, Andre actually finished the match and continued to perform every evening for more than a week, until at last the pain became almost too great for him to walk. According to Dr. Yett, unusual surgical tools and techniques were required for the operation; the largest screws available were needed to fix the malleolus in place, for instance. Two tourniquets had to be used end on end to encompass his thigh, and Dr. Yett described Andre's cast as the largest they ever had to make.

Fortunately, the hospital did have a nine-foot bed, but Andre presented other problems, such as the method of anasthesia and the fact that the longest pair or crutches was not quite long enough.

The operation and subsequent confinement were not without benefit. This injury was the first of any seriousness Andre had ever sustained, and the months he spent recovering on his mountaintop estate, though often frustrating, made him realize how much he had been missing because of his life of constant travel. Before long he and McMahon hope to establish a pattern of bookings that will allow Andre at least one week each month in North Carolina to work on his land, to clear more pasture for his horses. Eventually, perhaps in 10 years or so, as Andre envisions it, he will live a life in which he wrestles infrequently, working only the biggest arenas, but is active in promotion. For now, though, he circles the world as before, a colossus of back roads and big cities, a *deus ex machina* for millions of fans who pray for him to descend on their particular part of reality, lay hands on whichever evil-hearted villian is making a mockery of fair play, and briefly assauge their many, all too real, wounds.

CASE HISTORIES IN POINT:

When Andre himself was a poor country boy in France, he wanted more than anything to travel, to make money, to be somebody. And because of his size, his physical abilities, and a fair bit of luck, he has traveled and made money and become, without question, somebody. In fact, with the exception of Muhammad Ali, Andre the Giant is quite possibly the most widely recognized active athlete in the world. The thing in his life of which he is proudest is that he has fulfilled his boyhood dreams. He helps his family now. He has a grand home and possessions and a worldwide circle of friends, and he eats and drinks of the best. In fact, except for the inconveniences caused by his size, he has a singularly good and happy life, a life that was made possible by professional wrestling. As the fans pour through the doors of the arenas where he works, the money they pay to glory as he smites their common enemies goes to fuel his lifestyle. Andre has the fans and the fans have Andre. The circle is complete. Would the world be a better place if Andre drove a road- grading machine in North Africa, as he once planned to do? Or if the Dwaynes and Arpines and Punkins had to live without the thought of the Giant to sustain them? Let it be. May they all live happily ever after.

Copyright 1981 - Sports Illustrated


WWF King of the Ring Report

The program starts with a video montage recapping the recent event interspersed with clips of political figures such as Jesse Jackson, Richard Nixon and JFK.

WWF King of the Ring is on the air from Greensboro, North Carolina. JR tells us that Shane McMahon was injured on Heat in a match against Ken Shamrock who was then attacked by Steve Blackman and injured but refused to be treated by medical personnel.

Hardcore Holly vs. X-Pac - King of the Ring Quarter Final match - Holly has the size advantage in this one but that is about all. We are told that X-Pac may be somewhat the worse for wear after a match he participated in last night. The match is pretty even during the early ging. The fight just barely gets going when Holly forgets this isn't a Hardcore match and hits his opponent with a chair. He is DQ'd and X-Pac advances.

Terry Taylor stops Holly in the hallway - he doesn't seem fazed by his loss.

Paul "the Big Show" Wight vs. Kane - King of the Ring Quarter Final match match - the two go nose-to-nose then start the fight. the giant dominates the first few exchanges then rushes the corner and misses. He is on the receiving end for a moment then comes roaring back. Kane hits an insiguri that barely makes a dent in his larger opponent. They struggle against the ropes and Kane falls out to the floor. Wight tries to drag him back in but gets his neck snapped off the top rope. Now Kane is in control as he re-enters the ring. The referee gets knocked down and Kane hits a low-blow but before he can follow up, Holly runs in with a chair. Kane grabs the weapon away and choke-slams Holly which gives Wight the chance to regain his feet. Kane grabs onto his throat but doesn't try the chokeslam. Instead he chokes Wight to his knee. The referee is still out cold as Wight seems to be going down to the choke. The crowd is getting a little unruly over Kane's tactics. Wight finally struggles free so Kane grabs a chair and whacks Wight upside the head. The referee finally comes to and makes the count. Kane advances.

Mike Cole is with Vince in the back who says that Shane can't compete tonight. Shane protests that he can wrestle but Vince is adament and sends Cole scurrying away.

Billy "Mr. Posterior" Gunn vs. Ken Shamrock - King of the Ring Quarter Final match - Billy makes a speech acusing Shamrock of being a malingerer. Shamrock throws off the EMTs and heads for the arena. He is bleeding from the mouth as he comes to the ring. Teddy Long tries to talk him out of the match but Billy attacks and ends that idea. Billy attacks the injured ribs, of course, and it slows Shamrock down considerably. But he is not completely out of it as he grabs an ankle lock. Billy escapes by hammering his abdomen. The fight goes to the outside where Shamrock is dropped onto the railing. Billy beats on him then returns to the ring. He goes back out and helps Shamrock back into the ring then goes for a big splash and misses. Kenny hurls himself into a tackle that hurts him more then Billy then hits a Frankensteiner. Both guys collapse on the mat and the referee decides to stop the match and award it to Billy. Afterward Shamrock takes his frustration out on the referee.

Kevin Kelly is with Chyna and HHH, She says tonight she's going to be a Queen. HHH says he oesn't take orders form anyone - whatever that means...

Road Dogg vs. Chyna (w/HHH)- King of the Ring Quarter Final match - the Dogg bulls Chyna into the corner where she reverses their positions then shoves him away. They circle then lock-up again then trade arm wringers. He gets a hammerlock and she elbows him in the face. He grabs a side headlock on the next lockup. She tries to power out but the Dogg counters into another hammerlock. She spins around and decks him. Now he is rethinking his strategy, which has been to eschew the punches for pure wrestling. They criss-cross and he misses a clothesline - but she doesn't. She delivers some forearms and kicks in the corner then backs off at the referee's order and smiles (a rare event). She goes right back on the attack, whipping Jesse James to the opposite corner where he hits hard. He recovers, however and sends her flying to the floor. He follows her out but is ditracted by HHH, giving Chyna a chance to post her opponent. The referee orders her back to the ring and she complies but then distract him so that HHH can deliver some more punishment on the outside. Back in the ring, the Dogg is on the defensive as Chyna just stomps him into the mat. He finally comes back with a couple of shots to the gut but then Chyna gets a DDT and a two-count. Chyna scoopslams her opponent then drops a couple of stiff elbows. She apes the Dogg's delivery as she drops a knee on his head. He recovers and goes for a whip slam but she wiggles loose and grabs a sleeper. The Dogg is going down. Chyna has been very impressive in this match despite HHH's interference. The Dogg escapes with a couple of gut shots but she comes back with a shot to the eye. They struggle foir position then the Dogg grabs a sleeper of his own. Chyna collapses to the mat almost immediately. HHH grabs her foot and puts it on the rope before she can be counted out. She follows up with a roll-up and gets another two count. In the confusion the referee gets decked and HHH hits the Dogg with a chain. Still the Dogg kicks out. Now Shawn Michaels shows up and stands right behind HHH. The Dogg comes back to life and goes into his "Doggy Style" act. Chyna is reeling and HHH tries to help but Shawn pulls him off the apron and orders him away. Meanwhile Chyna is going for a low-blow - it doesn't affect James...because he is wearing a metal cup!! He knocks her down again and gets the pin. The Dogg advances.

The Rock has an interview in the back.

The Brood vs. The Hardey Boyz (w/Michael Hayes) - match for the #1 contenders to the Tag Team Championship - Edge and Christian represent the Brood w/Gangrel on the sidelines. Christian faces Jeff to start and dominates him until he tags in Edge who also manages to take control of things. Matt is tagged in against Edge and turns the tables. But then he is downed and Christian comes back in. This is a very fast-paced match - almost like a good light heavyweight bout. Christian gets a reverse DDT (deathdrop) and both guys struggle to tag out and succeed. Michael Hayes is poised to interfere and has to be cut off by Gangrel after he runs into the ring for a moment. In the end it is Gangrel who accidently strikes Edge with his "blood-spew" and causes the upset win for the Hardeys.

The Undertaker poses the rhetorical question - "What happens when you rip the balls off of a bull?"

Vince McMahon comes down the the ring and tries to get out a rant over the "A$$hole" chants. He tells us that Shane is unable to compete tonight. He blames it on Shawn Michaels and says the Handicap Match won't take place tonight. Michaels appears on the platform and disagrees. McMahon counters by reversing field and saying that he will have a "suitable replacement" but doesn't reveal who that will be.

Billy Gunn vs. Kane - King of the Ring Semi-Final match - Billy comes to the ring still carrying his purloined Tag Team Title belt like he owns it. Billy deserts the ring as Kane enters and looks a little non-plussed about facing this monster. He re-enters and goes right on the offense but then gets distracted by the referee and ends up on the receiving end. He is in the corner begging for a time-out in no time but there is no time out, of course. Billy scrambles to the floor folloed by his opponent who catches him and slams his face into the steps. Kane tries to use the steps as a weapon but Billy gets up and manages to drop-kick them right back into Kane's face. He pounds on his opponent some then posts him, He then delivers a rail shot ansd several punches then takes it back into the ring. Billy maintains his advantage through various nefarious means including a headlock which is really a choke, but then he is caught in a powerslam followed by a clothesline and then another one. Biloly falls to the floor where he goes after a chair. Here comes the Big Show, who grabs the chair from Billy then whacks Kane with it. Billy gets the pin and advances to the finals.

In the back, X-Pac says he plans to do his darndest to win against his friend the Road Dogg. The Dogg has a similar interview.

X-Pac vs. The Road Dogg - King of the Ring Semi-Final match - the fight starts clean, as would be expected. Hold and counter hold is the rule here in this one. Of course neither can keep that up for long and soon the fists and feet are flying. X-Pac takes control and gioes for the Broncop Buster but misses. Moments later he gets the X-Factor out of nowhere and takes the pin. X-Pac will face Billy Gunn in the finals. The Dogg and X-Pac embrace after the call.

Now we get a recap of the Rock/UT feud - which we need because it seems like it has been overshadowed by the HHH/UT thing lately,

I wouldn't be surprised to see HHH interfere and cause the Rock to win the Title back tonight. Especially since Chyna is out of the tournament.

The Rock vs. The Undertaker - WWF Title match - JR is running down the names of all the greats who have competetd in this historic venue (the Greensboro Colosseum), Wahoo McDaniel, Flair, Steamboat, the Andersons and others - funny thing is, they all wrestled for the NWA. This match is happening very early on it seems to me. Less then an hour and a half into the card. The Undertaker rather abruptly attacks the referee as the match begins. He knocks him out!! Then he attacks the Rock but Maivia recovers and gets the Rock Bottom. A second referee runs in and starts to count but Paul Bearer pulls him out of the ring and clocks him. Now the first referee is recovering as UT gets a chokeslam. He can only get a two-count out of it. The Rock comes back and clotheslines UT out of the ring. UT starts to walk away but Maivia follows him and they brawl up the aisle with the referee trailing behind. He is admonishing them to return to the ring but declines to start a countout. They continue to brawl and ignore him. Now Maivia is getting the worst of it for a while but then he recovers and they start to work their way back towards the ring. The Rock is run into the steps, then UT turns and intimidates the referee before rolling his opponent back into the ring. Inside he is back in control and chokes the challenger with a foot to the throat. Maivia gets to his feet but UT grabs an marm and starts jerking on it. He climbs the rope and starts his walk but Maivia shakes him off. He goes out and grabs a bottle of water, takes a swig and then spits it in UT's face. The fight goes back out to the floor again and heads into the crowd. Maivia is dominating until UT gets a shot to the throat to reassert himself. They fight back towards the ring again and UT is flung back over the rail to the ringside area. Maivia measures his opponent for a chair shot but UT gets the bell between them and sends the chair flying back into the Rocks face. He rolls the challenger back into the ring then chokes him on the apron. The referee pulls him off which gives Paul Bearer a chance to hit Maivia with his shoe. This turns into a knock down drag out fight now. The referee is downed yet again and now Bearer is pouring ether onto a cloth. He hands it to UT but Maivia manages to grab it away from him and starts to use it. The referee is still out of it when HHH comes running in anmd interferes. He gets a Pedegree on Maivia which gives UT the chance to get the Tombstone and the win.

In the back Shawn Michaels is disallowing HHH as Vince's partner for the handicap match. HHH is led away by security. Vince grabs his cell phone and orders someone to "Get your a$$ back here".

X-Pac vs Billy Gunn - King of the Ring Final match - in the back Billy is interviewed - he is now wearing his unearned Tag Team belt. He goes to the ring and attacks X-Pac as he enters. He goes right to work on Waltman's injureed neck. But then he flings himself into the corner and misses. X-Pac knocks him to the floor and then splashes him. Back in the ring he continues to dominate for a momtne but then Billy comes back with a bulldog on the rebound. He whips XP to the corner then press slams him. He grabs a front facelock to work some more on the injury. Waltman fights back gamely but is whipped into a powerdlam then a Famouser. Billy gets a two-count. Billy jumps up and gets into the referee's face which gives Waltman time to recover and come back with an X-Factor. He forces Billy into the cornmer and gets the Bronco Buster. Billy comes back with a neck-breaker and gets another two-count.They struggle up on the corner and X-Pac is shoved off to the mat. He gets up and Billy delivers a seconf Famouser from the second corner buckle. He gets the pin. Billy Gunn is King of the Ring.

We get a long-winded recap of the entire Corporate Ministry storyline tro set-up the main event.

The McMahons vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin - Handicap Ladder Match for control of the WWF - Vince comes down alone looking grim. I guarrentee he is up to something. He takes the mic and introduces his "mystery partner" - oh geez - it's a WWF mystery man - Steve Blackman. That's typical...

In the back, Shane is hamming it up with his friends, talking about how they put one over on Shawn Michaels - it's on the Titantron!! What a maroon!! They realize their error and run out of the room - but it's too late. Shawn catches Shane and forces him to go to the ring. Vince is looking really PO'd. Michaels orders Blackman away from the ring area under pain of DQing the McMahons. It's back on...

Steve Austin makes his entrance and the crowd goes wild. The McMahons bail while Austin greets his fans. They head for the ladder whicvh is up in ht aisle but Austin runs them down from behind. He drags Vince back to the ring and demolishes him. Shane runs in to the rescue and gets a similar treatment. Both McMahons are down in the ring. Austin drags Vince to the apron and lays in an elbow on his neck. Shane reaches down and gets his own neck snapped. Austin drags him to the corner and posts him in the crotch (Ouch!!) Austin is stalking Vince on the outside now but Vince lures him into range for Shane's attack and the two of him set on him. Shane keeps Austin busy while Vince goes after the ladder. Austin follows him and surprises him with the ladder in his arms then beats him up toward the entryway. Shane follows but then climbs up into the ladder-motiff rigging. Austin disposes of Vince then follows sonny boy and throws him off the rigging to the floor. He climbs back down and attacks Vince with one of the many ladders that are laying all over the set now. He again disposes of Vince and then rams Shane into another ladder. He then pulls down the entire structure so that a myriad of laddrs fall onto them. They are trying to dig themselves out while Austin grabs the black "Corporate Ladder" and takes it to the ring. He fends off Shane then hits Vince with the ladder. He goes back to the floor and throws Shane onto the Spanish announcers' table. He climbs the ladder at ringside and dives onto Shane, destroying the table. Now Vince and Austin are climbing opposite sides of the ladder. Austin knocks Vince to the ground but upsets the ladder in the process and takes a nasty fall. Vince has the ladder and takes it into the ring and sets it up. He starts to climb and has his hand on the briefcase when Austin runs in and delivers a low-blow, He pummels Vince then suplexes him off the ladder. He swats the incoming Shane like a fly then beats on Vince with the ladder in the corner. Shane recovers and rushes the corner but Austin side steps and the McMahons hit head-to-head. Austin grabs Shane and catapults him into the ladder which is leaning against the top rope. Austin drops the ladder on Shane's back and rides it as Shane tries to tap out. Sorry Shane, that's not the way to end it. Austin climbs the ladder but Vince manages to overturn it and break it. Shane tries to boost Vince up then climbs onto his shoulders but they can't reach the brifcase, Austin waits until they get close then downs them both. He stuns both of them then climbs the ladder (I guess it wasn't broken). But wait...the briefcase is being raised up too high to reach. He leaves the ring and starts asking ringside officials what's going on. Back in the ring the McMahons have the ladder up again. Vince is climbing but Austin tries to prevent it. Shane knocks the ladder over with both guys on it. He then climbs up as someone lowers the briefcase back down to where he can grab it and win the match.

The PPV ends a half hour early. I'll be back on Wednesday with the Monday Night Wars Edition. Until them...

At least that's the way I see it...

Earl Oliver
Editor, Solie's Wrestling Newsletter



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