Stars Andre The Giant Couldn't Stand

It may sound like a cliche to call André the Giant larger than life, but that's exactly what he was to multiple generations of pro wrestling fans, many of whom were first exposed to him during his time in the company then known as WWF. Whether he was playing a good guy or a dastardly heel, the big Frenchman, who was billed at 7-foot-4-inches and over 500 pounds, created many unforgettable moments in the ring thanks to his size, commanding presence, and indestructible aura. He was also one of the first few pro wrestlers to successfully cross over into Hollywood, as fans also remember him as the gentle giant Fezzik in Rob Reiner's 1987 film "The Princess Bride."

But much like just about any other wrestler, André wasn't that gentle when it came to some of the people he worked with in the business. Even in the years immediately preceding André's tragic death in 1993, the first-ever WWE Hall of Fame inductee held a few grudges, and not all of them were resolved prior to his passing. When looking back at these real-world conflicts, one would see that there were quite a few big names in the wrestling business whom André the Giant disliked or outright hated at some point in his career.

Andre hated 'Macho Man' Randy Savage's use of baby oil

There are many reasons for one wrestler to dislike the other in real life, with locker-room politics and unsafe in-ring technique among the most common. However, André the Giant had a rather unusual reason for hating Randy Savage. Apparently, the "Macho Man" oiled himself up way too much, and that didn't fly with the Frenchman.

Savage's brother and fellow WWF Superstar, Lanny Poffo, spoke to the Tampa Bay Times in 2018 and briefly discussed André's dislike of the former world champion and the copious amounts of baby oil he used while prepping for matches. "Randy wouldn't stop wearing it," he said. "He stubbornly said Andre's gimmick is being a giant and mine is baby oil. He never backed down from Andre and they never got along because of it." 

Separately, André's biographer, Pat Laprade, appeared on Chris Jericho's "Talk is Jericho" podcast in 2020 and revealed that his subject's issues with baby oil ran far deeper than a simple pet peeve — it had more to do with his unique circumstances as an unusually large man. "Even Lanny tried to tell Randy, [why not skip] the baby oil when you are wrestling Andre, and Randy said he didn't want to make any exceptions," he explained. "The reason behind it was ... it was hard for him to take a shower when he went back to his hotel room because the showers in the hotels were not made for a person of his size." 

Bad News Brown and Andre had an altercation over a racial slur

Hardly anyone wanted to mess with Bad News Brown back in the day. A former U.S. Olympian who won a bronze medal in judo in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, the real-life Allen Coage worked an unusual gimmick in the 1980s, portraying a villainous character who didn't like anybody, not even his fellow bad guys. Outside the ring, he was just as threatening, as André the Giant found out the hard way.

In a shoot interview with Title Match Wrestling, Brown, who died in 2007, recalled an incident that allegedly took place while he, André, Dusty Rhodes, and Hulk Hogan, among other legendary wrestlers, were on tour. The former WWF heel claimed that he overheard André using the N-word on the bus they were riding, prompting Brown to warn the 7-footer about his use of racist language. While André didn't say anything at first, he would later tell Brown to "go f*** yourself," which led to yet another confrontation the next morning, where Brown once again made it clear that he didn't tolerate the giant's behavior. 

André quickly apologized, but as Brown recalled, things would remain frosty between both men in the following years. Fortunately, Brown and André were able to put their differences behind them shortly before the latter died in 1993.

Smith Hart put Andre's (and his brother Bret's) life at risk with his reckless driving

By his own accounts, Bret "The Hitman" Hart and André the Giant got along very well during most of their shared time in the wrestling business. The same, however, couldn't be said about Bret's oldest brother, Smith Hart, who, as the supposed "black sheep" of the iconic wrestling family they came from, was a bit of a wild card back in the day, including when the Hart brothers were still competing in their father Stu's Calgary-based promotion, Stampede Wrestling.

As Bret related in his autobiography, "Hitman,"  André fell out with Smith after the latter put his life in extreme danger, all because he was so determined to get him to the Calgary airport for a flight to Montana that was due to leave in less than half an hour. Normally, this would have been a 40-minute drive, but Smith was confident he could make it on time. "That's when I buckled my seatbelt," Bret wrote. "Smith drove like an absolute lunatic at speeds in excess of a hundred miles per hour through city traffic."

Bret, Smith, and André survived the wild drive to the airport, but not without a quick brush with the law. While Bret convinced the officer not to arrest his older brother for speeding, André was understandably annoyed with the Hart brothers — and Stu himself for allowing Smith to drive him to the airport. And while it took a few years, André ultimately forgave Bret for the incident when both men were already working for the WWF.

Big John Studd purportedly made an insensitive comment during a promo

The expression "This place isn't big enough for the two of us" couldn't have applied more perfectly to André the Giant and Big John Studd, who were two of the largest performers on the WWF roster in the mid-'80s. As the two late legends' contemporaries recalled many years later, André's dislike for Studd stemmed from a number of things, including the latter's overly hard-hitting wrestling style. "I know one time Big John potatoed André pretty bad, and André was pretty hurt," said "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan on his "Hacksaw Hour" podcast, using the industry slang for a stiff shot. "Big John goes up to him and goes, 'André, I'm very sorry,' [and] André goes, 'sorry means s*** to me.'"

Likewise, Jake "The Snake" Roberts shared his own story of the real-life feud between André and Studd on his podcast, "The Snake Pit." According to the WWE Hall of Famer, Studd said some things in a promo that rubbed the giant the wrong way, hitting way too close to home for someone who had dealt with acromegaly — the condition that causes abundant growth hormones in adults — for most of his adult life. "He did an interview where he said André wasn't a giant, he was a freak," Roberts said. "André took offense to that, and that was it ... every time André got around him, he just [beat] the f***ing s*** out of him."

Kamala claimed Andre was an uncooperative opponent

During his time in the WWF and other promotions, the late James Harris, aka Kamala, played the part of a "Ugandan Giant" who was so much of a "savage" that he needed a handler at ringside for every match. It was one of many racially insensitive gimmicks from decades past that wouldn't fly in today's pro wrestling climate. 

As it turned out, Kamala was in a similar position as Bad News Brown — a Black wrestler who was supposedly the target of André the Giant's racist insults. And as he alleged in multiple interviews, André was also quite difficult to work with as an opponent. "Andre wasn't the friendly guy that he appeared to be,"  Kamala said in an interview with VOC Nation (via SEScoops). "He was real temperamental and had a nasty attitude. When I first started working with him, he called me a (derogatory) name in the ring and I beat him up." He also stressed that the 7-footer was frequently rude toward fans and co-workers alike.

It's not clear whether the match Kamala was referring to above was the same as this one, but the Mississippi native told Bleacher Report a story about beating up André for real after a "mix-up" during a match in 1982. It took Kamala pointing a gun at André the next night for the latter to say sorry, though the kayfabe Ugandan admitted to bringing that firearm with him for a while, due to concerns that André might lash out on him despite the earlier apology.

[Featured image by swiftwj via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY-SA 2.0]

Andre had no patience for The Fabulous Freebirds' drunken antics

The Fabulous Freebirds are one of pro wrestling's greatest factions of all time, with the success of the three-man unit responsible for the creation of the "Freebird Rule," in which any two members of a larger stable could defend a tag team championship. The trio was also notorious for living the rock 'n' roll lifestyle in and out of the ring, and that's the reason why they didn't last too long in the WWF despite their immense success in the territorial scene. A popular urban legend suggests that André the Giant essentially fired the Freebirds from WWF, but as faction leader Michael Hayes clarified, that's not exactly true.

Recalling the incident on "Stories with Brisco and Bradshaw," Hayes admitted that he and his stablemates, Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts, arrived late — and heavily intoxicated — for a show in Ohio where the Frenchman was assigned as the backstage agent for their match. André, who was notorious for the insane amount of alcohol he consumed in a day, ironically observed that Hayes was drunk, and despite the big man's best efforts to book the match properly, the Freebirds performed terribly in the ring.

According to Hayes, it was he who spoke to WWF chairman Vince McMahon and confessed to showing up too drunk to perform. And while André was displeased with the Freebirds' unprofessional shenanigans, wrestlers don't have the authority to fire their fellow performers; therefore, it was McMahon who issued Hayes, Gordy, and Roberts their pink slips.

The Ultimate Warrior worked too fast and hit too hard

An enigmatic talent in his own right, The Ultimate Warrior was involved in his share of urban legends during a decades-long career that most notably included multiple stops in the WWF. And it was during his first stint in Vince McMahon's company that the mysterious yet charismatic resident of "Parts Unknown" crossed paths with André the Giant, who was then in the last few years of his career, considerably slower and in poorer shape due to injuries and acromegaly.

Looking back on the André vs. Warrior feud on his "Something to Wrestle With" podcast, longtime WWE executive Bruce Prichard said the French giant was okay with his in-ring rival in small doses, meaning quick, 30-second "squash" matches. But when it came to the longer ones, André couldn't stand being in the ring with Warrior, and it was primarily because the latter worked at a much faster pace ... while also being rather stiff with his attacks. "If he liked you, and he wanted to work, he could work with just about anybody," Prichard said. "André would try to get Warrior to slow down, [and] he would try to get him to relax in the ring. And when Warrior would keep going a mile a minute, keep hitting André with everything that he had, André had a way of dealing with it."

[Featured image by Megan Elice Meadows via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY-SA 2.0]

Bam Bam Bigelow was filled with youthful arrogance during his first WWF stint

Similar to The Ultimate Warrior, Scott "Bam Bam" Bigelow was another up-and-coming young talent who entered WWF in the late '80s. But unlike Warrior, whose death in 2014 hasn't stopped fans from criticizing his sloppy in-ring work, the late Bigelow still receives praise for having exceptional agility and athleticism for someone who weighed close to 400 pounds. Unfortunately, as contemporaries such as Ted DiBiase have since recalled, the "Beast from the East" was not an ideal co-worker during his first WWF stint, as he joined the company with an inflated sense of entitlement. Leave it to André the Giant to teach Bigelow a lesson in humility.

In his autobiography, "Hitman," Bret Hart told a story of how André dealt with Bigelow and his bad attitude, which, at that point, included boasting to other wrestlers that he was getting big money for his matches. "One night, in the ring at Madison Square Garden, André got his hands on Bigelow and practically killed him — for real," Hart wrote. "That was all the attitude adjustment Bigelow needed, and he changed his ways."

Sadly, André had been dead a few years by the time Bigelow returned to the WWF in the mid-'90s with a much-improved reputation, one that was good enough for the company to book him against a high-profile, non-wrestling celebrity — NFL legend Lawrence Taylor — in the main event of WrestleMania XI in 1995.

[Featured image by Robert Newsome via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY-SA 2.0]

The Iron Sheik talked too much trash and was too rough with jobbers

The Iron Sheik developed such a reputation for making profane, off-the-wall comments that he became a legitimate social media icon years after his retirement from wrestling — all thanks to the son of an old friend who ghost-wrote each of his candidly foul-mouthed tweets. But while users on X, formerly known as Twitter, often had a good chuckle reading Sheik's random rants about various topics, wrestling colleagues such as André the Giant weren't laughing when he used to talk smack.

"I saw him grab The Iron Sheik one night. He irritated the hell out of André," Hulk Hogan said in André's eponymous 2018 documentary on HBO. "André had enough of his mouth. And one night, he just took him out in the ring, beat him up, and ... almost killed him. I'm watching, like, oh my God, somebody stop the match or he's gonna kill the guy."

Sharing another story of why André disliked the Sheik, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan revealed in a 2002 interview with RF Video that the "Eighth Wonder of the World" was not a fan of how the former Iranian Olympic hopeful treated local enhancement talents — guys with regular 9-to-5 jobs who'd work wrestling shows on weekends (and get booked to lose) for extra income. "[André] just hated the Sheik. Hated him because he pushed people around and took advantage of people in the ring," Heenan said.

Hulk Hogan didn't respect the business enough in his early days

These days, Hulk Hogan and André the Giant are remembered as bitter in-ring rivals who got along famously when the cameras were off. That wasn't always the case, as Hogan admitted in a 2010 interview with The Voice Versus – during the Hulkster's early days in the wrestling business, he got on André's bad side for not having enough respect for the art of predetermined grappling. "At the time, I was this young kid and I thought I could be as big as André and be as strong [as him]," Hogan explained. "He had fun beating on me. And it was a situation where [in] the first few years, I was just another kid that didn't understand this business. And when I finally smartened up and started having respect ... I started to understand what André was all about. He loved this business and he protected it."

Even when Hogan was an established star in WWF, there were times when he walked on eggshells around the big guy, including the lead-up to what might have been André the Giant's most challenging wrestling match — his and Hogan's WrestleMania III encounter in 1987. Hogan told Sports Illustrated that he was so worried André would be upset that he wrote down notes for that match instead of letting his much larger, more experienced opponent dictate the flow. Instead, André somehow followed those notes, which Vince McMahon apparently relayed to him without divulging that the "Immortal One" actually wrote them. "If Vince had showed Andre that I wrote the match out, he was going to have a red-and-yellow blood spot in the middle of the ring," Hogan said.

André was offended by Vince McMahon's suggestion that he retire

While all the above-mentioned stars were active in-ring competitors who shared the ring with André the Giant, none of them had the power and authority that Vince McMahon did as the owner and chairman of WWF — an untold truth for many a wrestling fan who knew him in the '80s and early-to-mid-'90s as the over-the-top babyface announcer on the company's programming. Despite the many controversies he's faced through the years, McMahon often tried to look out for his wrestlers, but when the WWF boss did so by suggesting André, who was then in the twilight of his in-ring days, may be better off hanging up his wrestling boots, the big man was deeply hurt.

"He didn't want Vince to stop," explained André's biographer Pat Laprade during his "Talk is Jericho" appearance. "And at one point, Vince tried to make him understand that his wrestling career was pretty much over. He had a lot of resentment against Vince ... It wasn't anything that Vince did wrong. He was trying to tell André that [he] should retire, and André wasn't ready for that."

Many years later, McMahon expressed regret over his falling out with André and the fact they didn't patch things up before the wrestler's passing. While he didn't say much about the topic in HBO's "André the Giant" documentary, he was clearly very emotional as he admitted he didn't remember when he and André last talked and later referred to the 7-footer as a "special" individual.