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WWE History Vol. 14: The Slam Heard Around the World.

ANALYST
Feature
Timeless

Hogan slams Andre the Giant at the climax of their match at Wrestlemania III
Hogan slams Andre the Giant at the climax of their match at Wrestlemania III

In front of a record setting crowd at WrestleMania III, Hulk Hogan body slammed Andre the Giant to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. It would change wrestling history forever.

Wrestling is a unique form of entertainment in that if often revises its own history. For example, leading up to the famous "I Quit" Match between Terry Funk and Nature Boy Ric Flair at Clash of the Champions IX, the announcers stated that neither man had ever submitted or tapped out. This was despite the fact that Flair had been seen verbally giving up to Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat during a Two Out Of Three Falls Match several months prior.

Much of this occurred more often in the past because of the regional territory system. For example, if Rocky Johnson just moved to a new territory the promoters were not going to mention that he lost a match to Abdullah the Butcher in his old territory.

It's no surprise, nor something novel, that wrestling promotions like to revise history for the sake of creating a new narrative. The Hollywood movie industry does this too, with their constant reboots and remakes.

When Andre the Giant became exclusively contracted to WWE in the early 1980s, the company pushed a particular narrative: Andre the Giant had never been body slammed, nor had he been cleanly defeated by any opponent.

In reality, many men had slammed Andre, such as Big Cat Ernie Ladd and Stan Hansen. Also on that list was Hulk Hogan, who had slammed Andre in other promotions.

The WWE narrative stuck, largely because the Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection made them the globally dominant promotion, and drew in many new fans who weren't familiar with the old territorial system.

This is the story of the body slam heard around the world, when Hulk Hogan faced Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania III.


The Build Up: The $15,000 Body Slam Challenge.

Andre hefts fellow big man Big John Studd in a body slam challenge match.
Andre hefts fellow big man Big John Studd in a body slam challenge match.
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If you're wondering how good the booking was during WWE's classic era, take this into consideration; WWE started building up toward Wrestlemania III YEARS ahead of time.

When Terry Bollea AKA Hulk Hogan was traded to WWE from the AWA, he was set up to be the company's biggest star. Vince McMahon knew that at some point there would have to be a match between Andre the Giant - arguably the biggest wrestling star of the 1970s - and Hogan, who was set to become the biggest star of the 1980s.

WWE needed to get over the idea that Andre was an invincible giant who couldn't be slammed. To that end, Andre was booked into a program with fellow giant Big John Studd. It all began when Studd and manager Freddie Blassie offered ten thousand dollars to any man who could slam the big man.

Weeks passed and no one was able to answer the challenge, until Andre the Giant hit the ring. Andre was about to slam his rival when Studd grabbed the ring ropes to save himself.

The feud culminated at the first Wrestlemania, where the stakes were raised to fifteen thousand dollars. After a lengthy bear hug, Andre scooped up Studd and easily slammed him, and then passed out the money to fans at ringside.

Andre had established dominance, and the narrative was that if Big John Studd couldn't slam Andre, then who else possibly could?


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