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Andre the Giant: Best Bout Machine?

Younger wrestling fans often remember Andre the Giant as the lumbering foe to Hulk Hogan at 1987’s Wrestlemania III.

For many longtime wrestling fans, memories of Andre the Giant include his industry-defining Wrestlemania III bout against Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship.

By then, Andre was in his early 40s and dealing with declining health. Despite the fact that the match is one of the most seminal bouts in wrestling history, the “work rate” is often maligned. Dave Meltzer, whose “star rating” system has been the benchmark for match quality among many fans (and wrestlers) since the early 1980s, actually gave the match a negative-4 star rating – among the lowest ratings for any match in history.

Many are surprised to find out that a younger, more agile Andre had a move set that was rather impressive given his size. No, the intensity of his work was not on par with smaller, more mobile performers like Terry Funk, Ric Flair, or The Dynamite Kid, but the Frenchman carried an arsenal that was far more polished and extensive than his work in the mid-to-late 1980s.

Twitter user Jack-of-all-trades recently shared a short video that includes some of the more impressive feats of the giant, including three moves that seem ahead of their time.

In the 19-second clip, Andre can be seen performing a precursor to Triple H’s Pedigree during a match in Japan. At the end of the clip, a young giant performers a fireman’s carry throw similar to John Cena’s Attitude Adjustment.

The most impressive feat, though, includes Andre picking his opponent up for a jumping tombstone piledriver. The move arguably looks more devastating than the finisher performer by stalwarts like Kane and The Undertaker in later years.

Even in 1983 – a few short years before the Mania match with Hogan – Andre defeated Big John Studd in a steel cage with a move best described as a flying butt drop. Oddly enough, in 1989, WWF Wrestlemania for the Nintendo Entertainment System featured Andre as one of two wrestlers (along with Bam Bam Bigelow) who could not climb the top rope… interesting considering Bigelow used the diving headbutt as a signature maneuver for years.

Much earlier in his career, though, Andre’s long, athletic build allowed for some exchanges that might not look entirely out of place in today’s wrestling landscape.

Consider his 1968 bout against Fritz van Buyten. Around the 8:25 mark, Andre and Buyten engage in a back-and-forth striking sequence with the Giant throwing two European uppercuts that rival any thrown by Claudio Castagnoli.

One has to wonder, then, what a young, healthy, twenty-something Andre the Giant could have done had he been born a few decades later.

If you are an Andre fan, what is the most impressive feat you have watched Andre perform during his stories career?

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