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The Irresistable Angle: Looking Back at Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III Page One of Three

As 1986 came to a close, Hulk Hogan had thrown back the challenge of friend turned enemy, Paul "Mr. Wonderful" Orndorff. As brutal as Hogan's program with Orndorff was, a much greater (and unexpected foe awaited him). WrestleMania III was months away but Vince McMahon had put together what he thought would be a surefire angle. Now, it was time to build it up methodically until fans would do anything to see the angle settled in a ring.

With Orndorff seemingly behind him, Hulk Hogan moved on to new challengers. In January of 1987, Hogan worked a series of matches against Kamala the Ugandan Giant. Although Kamala's size and savagery made him a legitimate challenger, Hogan was on a collision course with his greatest challenger yet.

         During the January 17, 1987 episode of WWF Superstars, WWF President Jack Tunney presented Hulk Hogan with a trophy honoring his three years as WWF Champion.  The award took place on "Piper's Pit" and saw Hogan's longtime friend Andre the Giant come out to congratulate the Hulkster on his award. Andre told Hogan "Three years is a long time to be champion", a statement that no one took note of at the time but which would soon become ominous in hindsight.

        The following week on "Piper's Pit", President Tunney presented Andre with a trophy recognizing his achievement as the only undefeated man in WWF history.  The trophy was smaller than the one which had been awarded to Hogan.  During the ceremony, Hulk Hogan came out to congratulate Andre but his congratulations seemed to turn the focus away from Andre and onto himself. Andre left the set, leaving everyone scratching their head.

        The following week on "Piper's Pit", WWF color commentator Jesse "The Body" Ventura confronted Roddy Piper and told him that he would produce Andre the Giant the following week if Piper produced Hogan.   Piper agreed and the fans began to be intrigued as to what was going on.   It seemed as if Ventura had some sort of surprise in store for Hogan but what would it be?

        WWF fans waited with anticipation until the next edition of WWF Superstars.  Jesse Ventura showed up on "Piper's Pit" and prepared to unveil his surprise.   Piper had delivered Hulk Hogan as promised but where was Andre? Everyone waited and then Ventura delivered a bombshell-Andre the Giant showed up as promised but he was not alone. With him was his longtime nemesis Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. Hogan was shocked. What was Andre doing with Heenan? 

        The answer was quickly revealed as Heenan told Hogan that Andre was tired of living in his shadow. An angry-looking Andre the Giant grabbed Hogan's chin and ordered him to "Look at me when I'm talking to you." The once gentle giant then challenged Hogan to a world championship match at Wrestlemania III. Andre ripped off Hogan's shirt and left "Piper's Pit," leaving Hogan speechless. Piper made his famous call, "You're bleeding" as Hogan's cross had cut into his skin when Andre ripped off his shirt.

        The wrestling world was stunned. How could Andre align himself with a man who had tried to drive him out of professional wrestling? For years, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan had waged war against Andre, costing Andre his hair during the infamous "Haircut Match" and unleashing  his charge "King Kong" Bundy on Andre, injuring the Giant in the process. Somehow, Heenan had turned Andre against Hogan, just as Heenan had helped turn Paul "Mr. Wonderful" Orndorff against Hogan.

        Although he did not like the circumstances that had led to the match, Hogan agreed to put his WWF title on the line against Andre at Wrestlemania III. The match was billed as the greatest match of both men's careers and the WWF put a lot of hype into the match. There were many exaggerations to the match.The WWF claimed that Hogan and Andre had never wrestled each other (both men had wrestled years earlier during Hogan's first run in the federation when he worked as a heel). It was said that Andre the Giant had never been pinned. While Andre's pinfall losses were few, his record was not spotless as claimed. Finally, Andre was billed as never having been slammed. This too was untrue. A review of the Hogan/Andre match from the Showdown at Shea's in August 1980 would have shown Hogan bodyslamming Andre.

        Despite the misrepresentations, the match had the potential to be huge. It had better be as the WWF had booked Wrestlemania III at the Pontiac Silverdome, an outer arena that was the largest NFL stadium at the time.  

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