The WWE Hall of Fame is now a year institution for the World Wrestling Entertainment. Vince McMahon annually decides which legends of the past are to be honoured in the ceremony, which dates back all the way to 1993. Legends like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker and many more have been given their Hall of Fame rings and a chance to give a speech to the audience one last time in the ceremony that takes place the night before Wrestlemania every year.
Andre The Giant was the first wrestler inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1993. The creation of the Hall of Fam was announced by the WWE (then called the WWF, or “World Wrestling Federation) in March 1993, prompted by the untimely passing of Andre The Giant just months prior.
The Frenchman, who was known for his large stature due to his gigantism, was a legend all throughout the wrestling world. Revered as a “gentle giant”, Andre (whose real name was André René Roussimoff) travelled across the United States, and later Japan, as a huge attraction. He went from territory to territory, battling the biggest bad guys each promotion could muster to challenge him. Fans were in awe by his immense size and loved him for, making him one of the most beloved wrestlers of all time. He remained undefeated for years and it was often said that if Andre didn’t want to work with you, there was nothing you could do in the ring to make him.
Dubbed “The Eighth Wonder of the World”, Andre The Giant found worldwide fame as part of Vince McMahon’s WWF. He first wrestled for the company in 1973, under McMahon’s father Vince Sr, but became a big star when he was booked as a heel opposite Hulk Hogan in the 1980s. Aligning himself with “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase, Andre The Giant managed to become the WWE Champion just once, holding the title for a matter of minutes before handing the belt off to his manager, where it was controversially declared vacant (although not before Dibiase defended it on house shows as champion).
His bouts with Hulk Hogan became some of the most famous of all time. Their battle on “The Main Event” in 1988 drew a record 33 million viewers – making it the most viewed wrestling match in US history. He also main evented the Silverdome against Hogan at Wrestlemania III, cramming 93,500 fans in to see Hogan slam Andre the retain the WWF Championship in the most important match in WWE history.
Sadly, Andre the Giant died from Heart Failure on Thursday 28 January 1993 in a hotel in Paris, France. The Frenchman had travelled back to his home country not long after his final match in Japan and was staying in the hotel while returning to France to attend the funeral of his father. He was a guest at the Hotel de La Trémoille, who spoke glowingly about the former WWE Champion during his stay in the hotel.
He had wrestled in Japan in his last match not long before his death. He was also slated to make an appearance in WCW during this time, although that was cancelled due to his untimely passing. His death hit the wrestling world hard, especially his friends like Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon. McMahon was teary-eyed when discussing his passing on the recent HBO Document about Andre The Giant and has honoured his legacy even thirty years later.
The announcement of the inaugural WWE Hall of Fame came was made on Monday Night Raw on March 22, 1993. This came just two months after the death of the great Andre The Giant, and he was posthumously revealed as the sole inductee that year. However, unlike modern interpretations of the Hall of Fame, WWE did not produce a televised ceremony that year. Instead, his induction was merely announced with little fanfare. They later went back and spoke over the 1994 ceremony to honor.
WWE later bestowed an arguably even bigger honor on the former WWE Champion – naming a match in his honor. From Wrestlemania 30 (in 2014) onwards, WWE have hosted an annual Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal, a 30 man over-the-top rope battle royal with a giant gold statue of Andre going to the victor. It has traditionally been held at Wrestlemania, although in recent years it has been relegated to the pre-show and even on the Smackdown prior to the event. The Big Show won the second iteration of the match, paying homage to the rumours that he was the son of the late Andre (this was not true).
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.