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Sunday, December 04, 2022

WWF 305 Live: Andre vs. Studd Career vs. $15,000!

Andre the Giant vs. Big John Studd WWF WrestleMania 3/31/85 - FUN

ER: I really like gimmick matches where the gimmick is the thing that ends the match, and I also recognize that a lot of those matches tend to be worked in ways that don't quite seem like the guys in the match would have worked things any differently in absence of the gimmick. This is a match where you win by bodyslamming your opponent, and really does not feel like a match you can only win by bodyslamming your opponent. BUT, if Andre fails to bodyslam Studd, then he loses his CAREER!! Andre has to slam Studd, or else we will never hear from him again! But it is definitely a gimmick match where both men don't seem to know or care about the actual stipulations and instead just work 5 minutes that don't totally seem to build to much. It is a match that happens to end with a bodyslam, and before it ended the only way the match by rule was allowed to end, there had only been one brief bodyslam attempt. Since Andre never attempted a bodyslam until he hit the one slam that won the match, there was never any sense that he was specifically weakening Studd to make him easier to slam, as there was never any point in the match where he was having any kind of difficulty doing whatever he wanted to Studd. If this was a man who knew he was in danger of losing his career, then Andre sure chose to play it c-o-o-l. 

There were a lot of really great, interesting ways this match could have been worked. This could have been Studd hurting Andre early and wearing down Andre's back while attempting several bodyslams that each get a bit closer, or this could have been Studd - noted heel giant stooge earlier in his career - scrambling to avoid Andre as Andre dominates and keeps almost-slamming him. You could have Andre get frustrated by Studd's avoidance and make a mistake because of that frustration, allowing a surprise late match shift in momentum. Those are just three easy ways to work this, but there are a ton of other ways, and all of them are more interesting than what they chose to do. This is just Andre having no problem at all squeezing and kicking and punching Studd around the ring without even teasing that he was about to attempt to pick him up and was never once in danger for even two seconds. 

It's such a strange match when you think about it in context. Maybe they thought, "This is WrestleMania. This show will be seen by people who have perhaps never seen WWF before. We need a showcase for Andre. We need people to see this GIANT." But this was not an impressive example of Andre's skills. He punched, he ragdolled the hell out of Studd with a choke, and he held a bearhug. Andre's in-ring acting is the greatest in wrestling, and here there wasn't even an act. If you want a showcase of his offense, you need someone who is more interesting at taking offense, someone who would bump for a giant's punches; if you wanted to showcase Andre's selling and acting talents, then Studd was a big enough guy who could convincingly do offense that Andre would sell. This was just Andre being dominant, worked so that minute 5 of the match felt like minute 1. The long bearhug was supposed to sell that Andre was weakening Studd, but Studd didn't act that weakened and Andre never met resistance so the weakening seemed superfluous. Andre is in MSG and he just doesn't seem interested in making any of the match stipulations add to the match, and he shows none of the charisma or charm that he could show in his dominant performances. There's a moment where Studd tries to kick him, and Andre catches Studd's leg and start to laugh, lets it build...and then just throws a punch, which is a thing that he had been doing the whole match. Andre did have some cool leg kicks, but they were mainly fascinating from a "Andre usually doesn't lift his leg that way" stance. Andre doesn't usually kick a really tall guy in the thigh several times in a match, so it's just cool seeing Andre doing weird leg kicks. 

Andre decides to slam Studd and does so in a way that makes it look like he clearly could have done this 5 minutes ago, and he is awarded $15,000 that is being housed in a child's duffel bag. 

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