Andre The Giant perfectly embodied the once-in-a-lifetime tagline, unfortunately discovered by legendary referee Earl Hebner after he sustained two black eyes from Andre!
At a billed 7-foot-4 and 520 pounds, Andre The Giant indeed was superhuman. Dubbed ‘The Eighth Wonder of the World’, Andre is heralded as one of the most famous and recognisable wrestlers in history, used as a special touring attraction before moving into a full-time run with the then-WWF during the 1980s wrestling boom.
Given his size, Andre wasn’t exactly renowned for his impeccable wrestling ability, but rather the sheer spectacle of a man of his size wrestling for as long as he did. It’s because of his size that one of the first ‘WrestleMania moments‘ – Hulk Hogan slamming him at ‘Mania III – still stands out today.
It wasn’t just in-ring foes who feared him, though, as legendary referee Earl Hebner recalled picking up two black eyes after being choked by him! The IMPACT Hall of Famer spoke of the interaction during a K&S Wrestlefest live stream:
“We were in Winnipeg doing a match with Andre. It was a spot where he was gonna hold me. He grabbed me right here and he held me in the corner. The next day we flew from there to Madison Square Garden. From the pressure on his hands, I had two black eyes. Could not referee, couldn’t see. I walk up to Andre, ‘Andre, look what you did, boss.’ He goes, ‘No, not me.’ I go, ‘Yeah, you’.”
Earl Hebner famously debuted in the World Wrestling Federation during Andre The Giant’s 1988 showdown with Hulk Hogan, pulling a ‘twin magic’ with identical twin brother Dave Hebner. Pinning Hogan’s shoulders to the mat despite him kicking out, it resulted in Earl being gorilla pressed by ‘The Hulkster’ in the aftermath.
Tragically passing away in January 1993, Andre The Giant’s legacy still lives on. Alongside several biopics and his sole induction as the inaugural WWE Hall of Famer, the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal is held annually over WrestleMania weekend, with winners including Cesaro, Jey Uso, and The Big Show.