There have been few men as influential and iconic in wrestling as Andre the Giant. The seven foot four giant from a small village in France, just outside Paris, became a household name with his wrestling career in the 1970s and 1980s. His matches against Hulk Hogan are some of the most famous bouts in history, with their match in 1988 on The Main Event drawing in a record-breaking 33 million views – a record to this very day.
He helped make the WWE the biggest company in the world during the famous Rock ‘n’ Wrestling era. As well as feuds with the likes of Big John Studd, Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage, he also carved out a career for himself in Hollywood – starring in movies with huge stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger. His most famous role was that of the giant Fezzik in the cult classic “The Princess Bride”. The 500lb giant became even more famous for his movie roles, but his one love remained pro-wrestling and fighting it out in the squared circle.
The death of Andre The Giant (real name André René Roussimoff) hit the wrestling world hard – here is the true story behind his death and exactly what happened when he passed away 30 years ago.
The Death Of Andre The Giant
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
During the HBO Documentary titled “Andre The Giant”, workers at the hotel spoke about the day of Andre the Giant’s death. They claimed they had attempted a wake up call multiple times throughout the day, thinking that Andre was simply staying in bed rather than getting up early in the morning as he had requested. Once he had not awoken by half past three in the afternoon, they broke into his room and found Andre The Giant dead in his bed.
He had passed away from heart failure. The issues with his heart were caused by his huge frame, which was caused by his gigantism. He had a tumour in his brain causing the condition, although he opted not to have any surgery in his adult life with the fear that it could impact his blossoming wrestling career.
Andre the Giant died aged 46, just one month after his last match in All Japan Pro Wrestling. His last match saw him team with Giant Baba & Rusher Kimura defeat Haruka Eigen, Masanobu Fuchi & Motoshi Okuma on December 4th, 1992. He barely appeared in the match. Andre tagged in at the end to help his side win, hitting only a couple of pained-looking moves. He won the match by hitting his opponent with a poor-looking clothesline, in which he had to hold onto the ring ropes for balance due to his immense size. He then sat on his opponent, once again balancing on the ropes, to get the three count and end his last match with a victory.
His health had deteriorated over the years, so much that he was barely mobile by the end. In his match against Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 3, Hogan had to work around Andre and make sure he was able to use the ropes to get up from the mat. Andre also couldn’t lift any weight, not being able to life up Hogan for his trademark bear hug spot during the match. Despite this, he wrestled for nearly a decade after and almost wrestled for WCW before his death.
An outpouring of love and grief came after his death. His impact on the business could not be quantified, given how many people he had touched as he toured around the world as the gentle giant that the fans couldn’t help but love. Despite his later career in WWE as a bad guy, most remember him as the travelling hero who would conquer all challengers. He was honoured accross the world, in Europe, Japan and America where he plied his trade as “The Eighth Wonder of the World” in professional wrestling.
Upon his death he was inducted in a multitude of Hall of Fames. Andre the Giant’s death prompted the creation of the WWE Hall of Fame in March 1993, just two months after he passed away, where he was the sole inductee in it’s debut year. He was such a huge part of the companies success that he was honoured in a way that nobody else had been before, which was made even worse by the premature nature of his death in his mid 40s.
He was also honoured by the WWE at the 30th edition of their iconic Wrestlemania pay per view. He was honoured by the addition of the eponymous “Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal”, honouring him 21 years after his untimely death. The match was revealed by the host of Wrestlemania 30, his long-time friend and rival in the ring Hulk Hogan, who honoured his friend by revealing this match to take place at Wrestlemania 30. The first edition of the match was won by Cesaro, while Andre’s kayfabe-son The Big Show won the trophy in his honour at Wrestlemania 31, last eliminating Damian Sandow.
Despite 2023 marking 30 years since the passing of the legendary Andre the Giant, fans memories of the great man have only grown over the years. The HBO Documentary named after him continues to highlight the highs and lows of his incredible life and his matches are shown regularly on the WWE Network as part of their collection of classic matches.
What is you favourite moment involving Andre The Giant? Tell us what you think in the comments or click down below to read about the tragic life and death of former WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero.
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.