Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Friday, May 11, 2018

Here's Hoping Andre the Giant Doesn't Harbor a Death Wish

Andre the Giant vs. Bret Hart WWF 4/10/89 - EPIC

ER: This match totally rules. Andre may have been fairly immobile but he surprised me with a lot of offense. Hart of course was really smart about getting Andre into position for things, and Andre was smart about building to things. I mean these two had this match down, so down that it's surprising they didn't work a whole circuit together. Match was built around Bret going hard at Andre, backing him into corners and trying to work body shots, trying to quickly hit his shots, until Andre would inevitably catch him, then we'd restart. Sounds simple enough, but man did it lead to some awesome moments. I love Hart actually locking up with Andre to start leading to Andre easily backing him into the corner and just squashing him with his body. It also makes a nice open for a Hart escape, as Andre is pressing in with the backside of his body. He goes for another squish and Hart moves, with Andre slamming himself hard into the buckles. Hart takes it to him with body shots, and Andre laughs menacingly - like Jaba the Hutt's laugh from the darkness when Luke is trying to rescue Han - before unleashing a big knife edge chop. Andre throws a great knife edge. I'm more familiar with his standard overhand chops, but his knife edges look beastly.

Sidebar: At this point I think we can all agree that Andre's Kentucky Headhunters muttonchops/black singlet was the coolest Andre look.

Hart keeps trying to attack the body, so Andre messes with him by nailing him with a mean headbutt, then standing on him while taunting the crowd, and then just sitting on him a couple times. Andre jawing with the crowd is really important to this match as it creates a couple believable openings for Bret, but this one was clearly the best: Hart dropkicks a just-turning-around Andre, and it's a great, forceful dropkick, and it sends Andre sprawling wildly backwards into the ropes. I had no idea Andre was still doing his great "caught in the ropes" spot this late in his career, and the set up for this one couldn't have been better. Crowd goes crazy for Andre getting stuck and Hart responds by wildly teeing off on Andre's giant dome. But then Andre gets an arm free, and Andre ripping his arm from the ropes and grabbing Bret by the throat looks amazing. And from here Bret gets crushed. Andre chokes him, locks on a smothering chinlock, gets caught in a bearhug, and Hart is great at looking like Andre was crushing the life out of him. Andre backs him in the corner again and another awesome moment happens when Andre goes low for a shoulderblock, and Hart times it perfectly and knees Andre right in the face!

And then we go into the glorious end run, which is indeed glorious. Bret gets his second win and starts wildly teeing off on Andre with any strike he can land, hitting hard kidney shots while Andre is staggering, kicking him, going after the body, Andre finally looking like he's reeling...and then he nails another headbutt. Hart goes down and Andre hits a fucking soccer kick to Bret's ribs!! Andre uses his awesome pulling strength to send Bret into the ropes, but Bret ducks a big boot and hits a shoulder tackle to launch Andre into the corner! Crowd is going crazy, Hart gets too overzealous and flings himself at Andre in the corner.....but Andre catches him by the throat and PLANTS Bret with maybe the earliest chokeslam ever. Andre casually walks to the middle of the ring, flexes his bicep while making an awesome Popeye face, and then just drops a ribcage crushing elbow on Bret for the win.

This match was so damn great. I can't believe I've never seen anybody talking about this. Go watch it. Watch it now.

PAS: Man what a masterclass in minimalism this match is. There was a surprising amount of action in the match (which Eric did a great job describing), but this was made by Andre being such a master at playing to the crowd. Covering his ears while the crowd chants Hogan, the look of fear on his face as he stumbles into the ropes, the maniacal smirk when he is able to grab Bret in a bear hug, old Andre was just a master of telling a story with his face. There were some really great spots in this match too, Andre getting one arm free and snatching Bret by the throat was a great monster movie villain move, you think you have the Mummy on the ropes, and he pops back to life. That elbow drop was also awesome, what a finish, it's like someone dropped a tractor trailer on Bret. Not only was I sure it was the finish, it wouldn't have surprised me if Bret was two dimensional after Andre got up, totally flat like when Wile E Coyote gets a boulder dropped on him.

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