This Sunday will mark the 28th installment of WrestleMania. For some wrestling fans, that makes us feel incredibly old and deeply cultured, while at the same time sparking some fun memories. This was a living, breathing cartoon. Even for those who preferred climbing a tree with My Buddy as a youngster, it would be pretty difficult to forget these two animated characters squaring off. For me, it’s impossible to think of WrestleMania without Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan.
It all started with the infamous Piper’s Pit segment back in 1987 in which Andre, stunningly driven by the dark but often humorous ways of Bobby “the Brain” Heenan, pulled off an unforgettable heel turn, eventually leading to a match against Hogan that will forever remain boorishly unsettling. It was like seeing your parents fight, with the added presence of Andre’s unmanageable nipple sweat. And when we weren’t in complete awe of the enraged sprinkler trapped inside the 525-pounder’s shirt — he had to be hungover, right? — we were captivated by the look of sheer disdain in his eyes that was so convincing it made Macho Man’s love for Miss Elizabeth feel like an act. Rounding things out nicely was Rowdy Roddy Piper’s alert observation to Hogan of “you’re bleeding” after Andre ripped off his shirt; a telling sign the friendship was broken.
Is it possible to top the big game tone of Mean Gene at a contract signing? No, no it is not:
As most of us went on to witness that March at WrestleMania III, Hogan famously bodyslammed a physically deteriorating Andre and dropped the signature big leg in front of 93,000-plus at the Pontiac Silverdome to retain the belt. Thrilling times all around.