The Main Event featuring Andre The Giant and Hulk Hogan

On February 5th, 1988 – the World Wrestling Federation presented The Main Event featuring Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan for the World Championship. It was held at the Market Square Arena, Indianapolis, Indiana. The event was the first prime-time televised wrestling since reportedly 1955.

The record viewership for the event at the time was 33 Million people. Hulk Hogan would defend the title in what would be his second time against Andre The Giant. It would be their first championship bout against one another since the previous year’s WrestleMania main event. As it was at WrestleMania III where Hogan would face and then defeat Andre in the main event.

The Main Event featuring Andre The Giant and Hulk Hogan

This rematch between them was always remembered for its controversial ending. But before we share the matchs’ conclusion lets discuss its build up and match itself. Led to the ring by the Millon Dollar Man Ted DiBiase & Virgil, Andre The Giant would come to the ring first as he would then await the arrival of the champion. However, before Hogan would come to the ring with his title in hand he would have an interview backstage with Mean Gene Okerlund.

Looking back on Hulk Hogan vs Andre the Giant: The biggest televised match in the history of pro wrestling
[Photo: Sportskeeda]

“Well with all the controversy Mean Gene of WrestleMania III, I tried to keep an open mind man but I’ve seen the film 1001 times. Andre the Giant you only had me down for a two count. I slammed you and beat you…1…2…3 right in the middle. The prayers, the vitamins and the training its changed because of you Million Dollar Man.

But I’ve invested my three assets wisely in a lifelong profit sharing plan with my little Hulksters, brother. You watch the referee that’s who. All my little Hulkamanic’s are going to be watching you Million Dollar Man. Then Andre the Giant, one on one and the whole world watching, I’m going to prove to you that I can beat you and Hulkamania will live forever.”

WWF Heavyweight Champion, Hulk Hogan was on his way to the ring first by walking and then he stormed the ring taking off his title and swinging it over head as though he was going to hit Andre with it. Referee Dave Hebner was warning Hogan to back off and then would hold the title overhead. Hogan would rip his shirt as Andre would stand on the ring apron taking in Hogan’s calling on fans.

Jesse Ventura was making an interesting point saying Hogan was wasting energy before this match even began while Andre would calmly take in the jeers from the crowd. Andre uncharacteristically came between the ropes. But Hogan immediately whips out both Virgil and DiBiase and then turns his attention to Andre. Hogan hits a series of chops and fists to the head and chest of the Giant.

Hogan then drives Andre into the top turnbuckle. Andre is being worn down but he won’t go down. Hogan hits a series of clothesline and then throws fists at Andre once again. Hogan then charges Andre in the corner turnbuckle and then throws another fist. He rakes the eyes of Andre and then climbs the top turnbuckle but Andre catches him and slams him off the top rope. He then tries a headbutt but Hogan moves.

Hogan goes for a pin but Andre reaches up and begins to choke him. Andre maintains control with choking Hogan and then driving fists to the back of the champion. The Giant then slams Hogan and then stands on the mid section of the champion. Andre then has complete control of the match driving headbutts and chokes on the champion.

The challenger then hits a big boot on the champion leading to him ending outside the ring. Andre then chokes Hogan using his singlet. The Giant then resumes choking Hogan who begins to fight back. Hogan fights his way back up and then breaks the hold. He once again hits Andre with a series of chops and punches.

Hulk climbed the top rope and then hits a diving clothesline. Virgil then grabs the leg of the champion. But the referee is distracted by Virgil as Hogan had the Giant pinned. But Andre hits a series of headbutts and then pins Hogan. Hogan’s left shoulder was up as soon as the count of one was down.

Inside the ring, DiBiase, Virgil and Andre are in the corner as they are presented with the World Championship. Howard Finkle announces Andre as the new World Champion. As soon as Okerlund interviews him, Andre says that he is surrendering the title to Ted DiBiase. But back in the ring we see Dave Hebner and his twin brother are in the ring. Hogan grabs them both by the throat and screams to both of them.

But one Dave Hebner takes out the other Dave Hebner. Hogan then lifts him high overhead and throws him to the floor. As Hebner is thrown he lands on top of Ted DiBiase and Virgil who are up the aisleway.

On the 30th anniversary of this match, he recounts what he said led to the decision for how the finish of the match to have come about.

‘What was so weird about this match was once we booked it, we were stuck for a finish. And I was in the office with Vince (McMahon) as I lived next to the office in Stamford back in Sommer Street back in the old office and we were sitting there, me and Vince and (Pat) Patterson.

And oh my gosh, what are we going to do? What are we going to do for a finish? And we talked about it for a couple of hours and all of a sudden I said, I just wish we had twin referees. Twin referees! I know, twin referees!

So, I told Vince about the Hebner’s and that they had twin and we called that day and Vince made Earl an offer he couldn’t refuse. And that’s how that twin refeee thing came about. This avoided from either Andre or I from having to do the job. So this was how that all came about.”

The night remains the one and only time, Andre was announced as the WWF World Heavyweight Champion. While only a moment before he surrendered the title to Ted DiBiase, Andre would never hold the world championship ever again.