Saturday, February 4, 2012

My dinner with Andre, did you know i met Andre the Giant?

 Here's something you might not know about me I like wrasslin'. Pro wrestling from the mid 90's and back especially the southern promotions. Yes, its ridiculous nonsense but I don't care there's a odd romantic vibe to the old territory system. Wrestlers would travel from territory to territory every few months to keep their characters fresh and at times work different territories at the same time. You could be the hero in Georgia and spit on in Florida. Before cable television you had a lot more leeway as far as what you wanted your character to be.

 When I was little I would watch WWWF which became WWF which is now WWE. I have no idea what modern wrestling is like or who the current stars are except for some very creative independent promotions like Chikara Pro. Anyway one day when I was around 5yrs. old I was changing the channels and came across two men standing in a wrestling ring, one man was in say blue trunks and the other guy was in equally drab monochrome attire green lets say. In my mind they were two pasty looking white guys who were sort of in shape, slightly toned but still doughy anyway that didn't matter the bell rang and they attacked I was instantly hooked. I became fascinated by this sport because for every pasty scrub was a larger than life character. The Moon dogs Rex and Spot, The Wild Samoans led by Captain Lou Albano this larger than life guy who had rubber bands stuck to his cheek. It seemed like in the 70's the trend was the wrestlers to bleach their hair blond. I have no idea why but to me that's the image of a wrestler from the 70's.

 Of all of these monsters, heroes, bad guys there was one guy who was my absolute favorite. Andre the Giant. I couldn't believe that someone could be so big. His afro was 4ft. in diameter and when he was young he was very agile. He would take on 3 guys at once! at some point all 3 would end up in the corner and Andre would smoosh them with a huge butt bump. Great stuff for a kid. I always wondered why he wasn't champion, he could easily beat any one and would reign until he retired. Little did I know at the time that Andre traveled all around the world raking in tons of money for him and the local promoter.

 So I had to be about 9 or 10 and my dad took me and my friend to the Allentown Fair Grounds to see Andre the freaking Giant!! I was so excited. Andre was going to face the creepy Killer Kahn, an evil mongoloian that would do this awful screech in the ring that gave me the heebie jeebies. I hated Kahn and couldn't wait to see Andre pin him. There we are outside in the grandstand seats i'm in heaven, i got my Andre 8x10 and the wrestlers are right in front of me, live and in the flesh. It sounded so loud when the wrestlers would get slammed onto the ring and the live crowd reaction gave me goosebumps.

 I remember this group of "ladies" behind me screaming in ecstasy when Pedro Morales came out. I saw a real young Curt Henning get tossed around like a rag doll by some bad guy. King Kong Mosca, one of Andre's rivals was up next. That's when I saw him, Andre the Giant, standing next to a fence resting his arm on top of the fence because he's a giant after all and I was awestruck. I asked my dad if I could get his autograph with his permission  my friend and I ran down the grandstand across the walkway and right up to the fence where he was standing. I looked up and there he was, his head was freaking enormous. It was a wooden fence that had a car barrier in front of it we climbed up it and I was inches from Andre, he never looked our way he was intently studying his hated rival so i understood completely. With my picture in hand I was ready to ask for his autograph......but no i never did I was so star struck that my idol was right next to me that I couldn't speak, I stared for what seemed like an eternity but it was probably a few seconds. I looked at my friend and we hopped back down and ran back up to our seats. Andre destroyed Killer Kahn that night like I knew he would. I went home a very happy kid, I didn't really care that I never got the autograph. Standing right next to him on that fence was more than I could ever hope for.

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