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    Saturday, April 7, 2018

    Smark Henry’s Favorite WrestleMania Moments: The Slam Heard Around The World

    As we count the days down to WrestleMania 34 on April 9, we here at Smark Henry want to do something different than our usual trivia promotion. Over the next two weeks, we'll be sharing and talking about our favorite WrestleMania moments in the hopes of getting some more this year.

    For better or worse, pro wrestling is generally defined more by its moments than its actual matches. You may not remember the specific match structure of when Bret Hart and Stone Cold squared off at WrestleMania 13, but you sure remember Austin's mask of blood as he passed out to the Sharpshooter. You've probably forgotten Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair's in-match narrative at WrestleMania XXIV, but you'll never forget "I'm sorry. I love you."

    It's the moments that live on forever, and WrestleMania has never fallen short on them.

    Which leads us to today's WrestleMania moment as we count down the days to the Granddaddy of Them All: That time "The Immortal" Hulk Hogan put up his WWF World Championship against "The Eighth Wonder of The World" Andre the Giant at the Pontiac Superdome Silverdome.

    This was the moment every rasslin' fan in the 1980s lived for. At this point, Hulkamania was the hottest thing going in pro wrestling, with Hogan having been World Champion for three years, deflecting challenges from such legends as King Kong Bundy, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff, and Randy Savage. But now, for the first time, he would be facing the one opponent that had every little six-year-old Hulkamaniac shitting their pants in fear: the near-mythical 7'4" Andre the Giant, a man who had been undefeated in singles competition during his monstrous eight-year run in what was then the WWF.

    You know how Hogan's iconic "Real American" theme starts with the line, "When it comes crashing down and it hurts inside"? You'd be lying if, as a wrestling fan in the 1980s, you didn't partly believe this was going to be Hogan's fate in this momentous match. For all his unstoppable kinetic force, he was up against pro wrestling's true Immovable Object.

    We're not going to pretend this match was a technical classic. Andre was already greatly limited at this point, far from the agile, mobile monster dishing off dropkicks and second-rope leaps in Japan, and generally only wrestled 3-5 times a year for the WWF. But the goosebumps were real when the two men faced off to open the match. That was a moment. This was pro wrestling's peak.

    Add in the real-life drama that Hulk Hogan, for the first and only time in his life, was legitimately worried if his opponent would go along with the scripted finish. Andre, with years of ring abuse coupled with his gargantuan frame, was practically a cripple, and in a sour, sour state of mind that night, and was in no mood to play ball. If he'd decided to go off-script and just crush Hogan through his sheer 593-pound physical might, there was little anyone could do about it.

    This was, to put in kindly, a slobberknocker hoss fight, with Hogan bumping and selling his ass off for the man everyone else called "The Boss" backstage. Horror was the predominant emotion among the audience in attendance as Andre slowly picked him apart with monstrous clubbing blows, slams, and rib-crushing bearhugs. We knew Hogan's signature Atomic Legdrop finisher would give him a fighting shot at beating the French beast, but how would he even get Andre off his feet to begin with?

    But then, Hulk Hogan did what Hulk Hogan does: he hulked up. Drawing from the power of his Hulkamaniacs all around the world, he steeled himself, gripped Andre between his 24-inch pythons, and, with everyone's breath held, lifted him up for the most iconic bodyslam in pro wrestling history.

    Forget the fact that Andre had actually been slammed multiple times in his career before; hell, Hogan had done it at least four times before this. But for the myth-building purposes of WrestleMania 3, everything had been wiped clean from everyone's memories. After all, it wasn't as if anyone could hop onto YouTube back in 1987 for a highlight video of every other time it had happened before.

    If it didn't happen at WrestleMania, it didn't count. And for that one night, before a record-smashing crowd of over 78,000 93,000, history belonged to the man who defined pro wrestling for most of mainstream America for decades, the one, the only Hulk Hogan.

    Want to catch WrestleMania 34 live? Join us at the official Smark Henry WrestleMania Viewing Party on Monday, April 9 at Skinny Mike's Sports Bar in Bonifacio Global City! P300 gets you entrance and a free drink, as well as the closest thing to watching the Grandaddy of Them All live in the arena. It's a holiday, too, so no reason for you to miss out! For more details, check out the Facebook event page here.

    Read our previous entries:

    1. Daniel Bryan Wins The Big One At WrestleMania 30
    2. Seth Rollins Cashes In At WrestleMania 31
    3. Savage and Steamboat's Perfect Classic
    4. A Tremendous Stunner
    5. Edge's Superspear at WrestleMania X-Seven
    6. The (Double) Turn of the Century
    7. Destrucity Trumps Immortality
    8. A New Era of World Champion
    9. Just Got Rowdy, Three Years Early
    10. A Savage Reunion
    11. The Boyhood Dream Comes True
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