Andre the myth. Andre the legend. Andre the Giant.
That was the slogan for the Andre the Giant documentary that aired this week on HBO. Anticipation was high for this documentary, with many wondering if HBO Sports, WWE, and the Bill Simmons Media Group would do Andre’s legacy justly.
Well, they did more than that. What they did was make one of the best sports documentaries of all time.
You’d be hard pressed to find someone that didn’t enjoy this film. Even non-wrestling fans enjoyed seeing the story of this larger-than-life human. It was masterfully crafted, hitting all the key points of Andre’s life.
One of the biggest takeaways for me was how the ending of his match against Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III was called on the spot. To me, Hogan slamming Andre is the most important moment in professional wrestling history. For Andre to have that much respect for Hogan, and the business, to take that slam in the condition he was in is remarkable. It gave me another level of respect for Andre the Giant.
There were things going into the film that I knew, like how bad he was hurting near the end of his life and some of the insane drinking stories Andre was famous for. The details I didn’t know about them, though, really opened my eyes. Not being able to catch Robin Wright while filming The Princess Bride was eye-opening, and the amount of alcohol he consumed daily was freighting.
Seeing the old footage of Andre wrestling felt like stepping into a time machine. To see him so (relatively) skinny at age 19 was surreal, in a sense.
What I thought the film really did well, though, was talk about Andre’s personal life. There were many things that I learned watching this film, like his ranch in North Carolina and the fact that he has a daughter. I also never knew that he and former WWE referee Tim White were such close friends. These personal details that we learned about in the film really humanized Andre and added another layer to the documentary.
The film made you laugh, think, and cry, which is usually an indication of a fantastic movie. It added to the mythology of Andre the Giant, while also letting us know who Andre Roussimoff was. There was never a dull moment, and it left you wanting more. There was no better way to memorialize the biggest wrestler of all time. Kudos to all involved on making the best wrestling documentary of all-time.