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Ask 411 Wrestling: Is Wrestlemania III Andre the Giant’s Only Televised Pinfall Loss?

April 1, 2024 | Posted by Ryan Byers
WWE WrestleManias WWF WWE WrestleMania III Andre the Giant Hulk Hogan WrestleMania's Hulk Hogan’s Image Credit: WWE

Welcome guys, gals, and gender non-binary pals, to Ask 411 Wrestling. I am your party host, Ryan Byers, and I am here to answer some of your burning inquiries about professional wrestling.
If you have one of those queries searing a hole in your brain, feel free to send it along to me at [email protected]. Don’t be shy about shooting those over – the more, the merrier.

Hey, ya wanna banner?

We’re going to do something a bit different this week. We’re days away from Wrestlemania XL, so I’ve decided to bust out an ALL-WRESTLEMANIA EDITION of Ask 411 Wrestling.

Yes, I’ve dug through my backlog of 200+ questions and exclusively pulled out questions related to Mania to answer those week. Some of those queries were submitted in the last couple of weeks and some of them were submitted years ago, but all of them relate to the granddaddy of them all.

Hasan B. is stuck in the middle:

With Randy Orton set for a triple threat against Logan Paul and Kevin Owens at Wrestlemania XL, it occurred to me that Randy Orton has been in a lot of WM triple threat matches (v. Rey/Angle, v. Legacy, v. Daniel Bryan/Batista). Has he been in the most triple threat matches at a Wrestlemania?

Yup, that’s right. I counted five different triple threat matches for the Viper at Mania, and his bout against Paul and Owens will be number six. That means he’s had more than any other wrestler. Adam “Edge” Copeland is in second place behind him, having wrestled in four different triple threats at WM, two of them being his classic ladder matches with the Hardys and the Dudleys and two of them being world title matches.

In a bit of trivia that I found interesting, there was actually a four-way match on Wrestlemania before there was a three-way match on Wrestlemania. The first three-or-four way match on a Mania was the four corners tag team match at Wrestlemania XIII with the Headbangers facing the the New Blackjacks, the Godwinns, and Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon.

The first triple threat match in Wrestlemania history was two years later at Wrestlemania XV, with Bob Holly defeating Al Snow and Billy Gunn to win the Hardcore Championship.

Klep Trep from Disqus really makes you think:

Ok let’s finish the story in stupid ass questions and ask: Is Vin Diesel a satire of Oprah Winfrey?

Yes, 100%.

Erik knows that plans change, just like Dave Meltzer:

When the Wrestlemania IV Heavyweight Title Tournament was announced by Jack Tunney in early 1988, it’s noteworthy that the brackets had the DiBiase-Duggan match flipped with the Roberts-Rude match.

(a.) Do you think this is how the brackets were originally configured when the plan was to put the strap on DiBiase? Or was it just an oversight/error?

(b.) If this was indeed the way things were configured in order to put the belt on DiBiase, how do you think each of the match results would have played out?

In a 1999 shoot interview that Ted DiBiase did with RF Video, the Million Dollar Man was asked about longstanding rumors that he was originally slated to win the WWF Championship at Mania IV but things were switched to put the belt on Randy Savage, in part because Savage was upset when the Honky Tonk Man refused to drop the Intercontinental Title to him on the February 5, 1988 episode of The Main Event. In responding to the question, DiBiase confirms that this was the story he heard as well. Interestingly, DiBiase also said that the Million Dollar Championship was created to give him something to do when it turned out he wasn’t going to be the WWF Champion after all.

HOWEVER, on his own podcast, Bruce Prichard has stated that Randy Savage winning the WWF Championship was planned in 1987, well before the Honky/Savage issue arose. So, I guess you have to decide whether you trust DiBiase’s version of history more or Prichard’s version of history more.

If you believe the Million Dollar Man’s version of events, then it certainly does seem like the original brackets were put together for a DiBiase victory.

If those matches were flipped, I think it’s pretty apparent how the match results would have come down . . . or at least this is how I would’ve booked it:

Rather than wrestling to a draw as they did on the actual show, Jake Roberts manages to defeat Rick Rude to advance to the quarterfinals.

The finish to Dino Bravo/Don Muraco gets switched, with Muraco going over to become Jake’s second round opponent.

Greg Valentine can still beat Ricky Steamboat.

Randy Savage can still beat Butch Reed.

Instead of the One Man Gang defeating Bam Bam Bigelow by count out, Gang and Bammer get into a wild brawl and wind up having a double count out of the ring.

Ted DiBiase defeats Jim Duggan in the first round, as actually happened.

Then, in the quarterfinals, DiBiase has a bye because there was no Gang/Bigelow winner. Randy Savage still goes over Greg Valentine.

On the other side of the quarterfinal bracket, Jake Roberts downs Dino Bravo with the DDT. Then, Andre the Giant defeats Hulk Hogan, though given the circumstances and prior booking, it would have to have been by disqualification or count out as opposed to by pinfall.

This gives us semi-finals of Savage versus DiBiase and Roberts versus Andre. Obviously, DiBiase is the winner over the Macho Man. Then, Jake Roberts defeats Andre the Giant, most likely due to Hulk Hogan coming out for revenge for what happened in the prior round and getting the Giant counted out of the ring.

Of course, the finals are now the Million Dollar Man and the Snake, and we know what happens there based on the first part of the question.

Barry is looking for a place to stay:

You mentioned in a previous column about venues bidding for the rights to host Wrestlemania and it got me thinking. Do venues ask WWE to use them for shows or do they have a team who contacts places to try and book them? Or a bit of both?

When it comes to major shows like Wrestlemania, wrestling journalist Denise Salcedo asked this question to Stephanie McMahon at a red carpet event before last year’s Mania XXXIX. Though Steph’s answer focused more on the factors that the company considers in selecting a venue for its biggest events, she did say in the opening moments of her answer that the company uses an “RFP process” that is “like the Superbowl.”

Ms. McMahon did not go into the specifics of WWE’s process, but I can tell you from experience in other aspects of my life that “RFP” stands for “request for proposal,” and it essentially means that WWE will put out word to the world at large that they need a Wrestlemania venue and will list some criteria that the successful bidder will have to meet. Then, it is up to individual cities/venues to put together proposals that demonstrate to WWE how it is that they will meet their criteria – and perhaps even give them additional benefits that they hadn’t thought of when they were putting the RFP together.

WWE picks the proposal they like, negotiates a contract, and, boom, you’ve got yourself a Wrestlemania venue.

Big Al took a huge risk by asking this question:

I’ve heard in the past that Vince McMahon put he entire business on the line for Wrestlemania and that if it didn’t succeed then the business would go under. My question is how was the whole business on the line? It wasn’t the first wrestling PPV ever so was that truly a risk? Also, what was the measurement for success? Finally, with Wrestlemania II being so bad, did Vince McMahon rethink continuing on with them?

It was a huge risk because the event cost a ton of money. Cyndi Lauper. Mr. T. Liberace. Muhammad Ali. Do you think all those people are working for free? Do you think all of those people are working for the rates that Vince McMahon was paying the Ricky Steamboats and King Kong Bundys of the world? Or even Hulk Hogan? You are also talking about an event that was one of the WWF’s first efforts to promote the ability to watch a megacard nationwide as opposed to simply promoting it within its historic northeastern territory. That sort of promotional push, combined with the payroll, made this a huge event to bankroll.

As far as the measure of success is concerned, that’s pretty simple. If the event brought in more money than it cost to put it on, it’s a success. If it costs more money to put on than it brings in, that’s a failure.

The same is true of Wrestlemania II. Though I’ve heard it was not the financial success that the first installment of the show was, I’ve never heard of it losing money, so I have a hard time believing that it was ever going to be the end of the line.

HBK’s Smile is going back to where it all began:

Here are some questions regarding the early WrestleManias. Feel free to answer these all at once, or spread out.

Oh, this is the Wrestlemania column, baby! Of course we’re doing them all in one shot.

WMI – Why was the women’s title match Leilani Kai vs Wendi Richter (meaning why was Kai the champ coming into WM)? It seems that either a rematch with Moolah with Richter as champ or a rubber match with Moolah as champ would have been a bigger deal than Kai-Richter. Was Kai a better draw than I am giving her credit for? Or was there an element of ageism in not featuring Moolah in the ring?

Leilani Kai wasn’t a particularly big name in the U.S. prior to her getting involved in the ongoing Moolah/Richter/Lauper issue. As far as the WWF was concerned, she had some matches under the old WWWF banner back in the mid-1970s, including once challenging for Moolah’s Women’s Championship in Philadelphia. However, in the 1980s, she just workeda handful of non-televised events in fairly low profile matches immediately before showing up and defeating Wendi for the Women’s Championship.

I have not seen anybody comment on the record as to why Kai was Richter’s opponent instead of Moolah. However, Moolah’s age was almost certainly a key factor. I don’t know that I would call it “ageism” as the question does, because Moolah was already in her sixties at the time of the event, and there are virtually no high level professional athletes who continue into their sixties. Most likely, the Kai/Richter match was seen as an opportunity to create two new stars simultaneously, leveraging the star power of Cyndi Lauper, who was the real “draw” in that angle, not Kai, Richter, or Moolah.

WM2 – Was the reason WM2 took place at three different venues that the recent Starrcade ’85 took place at two different venues and Vince wanted to outdo the NWA on that front?

One of the things that you have to keep in mind is that, in 1986 when Wrestlemania II was taking place, watching major wrestling or boxing events at home was still a pretty new concept. Instead, you would travel to an arena in your area and sit to watch a broadcast from some other part of the country on a big screen via the magic of closed circuit television. Even though nowadays people refer to the original Wrestlemania as a pay per view event, it was predominantly a closed circuit event, even though it was on PPV in some limited markets.

The idea behind Wrestlemania II was no doubt that, if people were traveling to arenas in major cities to watch the event on closed circuit, you could probably get even more people to an even bigger venue if you give them one-third of the card live and in person and the remaining two-thirds on closed circuit television.

In other words, it’s not just about showing off because the competition did something similar a few months earlier. It’s about what you can do to make more money.

WM3 – Was the WM3 main event the only time Andre the Giant suffered a televised pinfall (or submission) loss on WWF TV? Or on North American TV? (I was at a Warrior squash of Andre but I don’t believe any of those were ever televised).

Technically, no.

On October 28, 1989 in Madison Square Garden, the Ultimate Warrior pinned Andre the Giant in Madison Square Garden in a match that the record books have listed as being 19 seconds long.

However, there’s a reason that I said “technically no” instead of just outright no.

The match was televised. Specifically, it was televised on the MSG Network, which in that period would regularly air house shows from the venue after they occurred. The MSG Network did not have a particularly wide national reach, though, and the WWF as a larger company did not really promote the fact that fans could go watch wresting on the MSG Network.

So, yes, the match involved a pinfall by Andre airing on television in North America, but it’s not something that many people saw at the time it aired, nor is it something that the WWF ever really promoted as having happened . . . even though it did happen.

Also, there are at least two matches that I am aware of in which Andre was pinned with portions of the match being shown on television in North America, even though the portion of the match that included the pinfall was never shown.

On March 5, 1978 in Knoxville, Tennessee, Ron Garvin wrestled Roy Lee Welch and Andre the Giant in a handicap match, with the gimmick being that Garvin boasted he could beat not only Welch but also any partner Welch could find. This lead to Welch bringing in Andre, who was seemingly unbeatable . . . or at least he was seemingly unbeatable until Garvin beat him. Rugged Ronnie pinned the Giant in that handicap match. Clips from the bout were shown on television in the Knoxville territory, but, per a pre-match, behind the scenes agreement between Garvin and Andre, the actual pinfall finish was never shown. So, you had clips of the match on TV and the storyline in the Knoxville territory was that Garvin beat Andre, but nobody actually saw it unless you were in the arena that evening.

Additionally, on February 12, 1984, El Canek defeated Andre the Giant in two-out-of-three falls match in Juarez, Mexico with Canek’s UWA World Heavyweight Title on the line. Canek pinned Andre in one of the falls and then won by disqualification in the third fall. (Canek also bodyslammed Andre in this match.) Historically, the result of a two-out-of-three falls match is reported based on the finish of the last fall, so most sources will list this as a DQ win for Canek. However, he did factually pin Andre in the match. Again, like the Garvin bout, clips of the match were shown on Mexican television, but the actual pinall never was.

(And, yes, my geographically challenged friends, Mexico is in North America.)

WM4 – I understand that the original plan for the tournament was for Ted DiBiase to beat Hulk Hogan in the final but that was changed when Randy Savage did not actually beat The Honky Tonk Man for the IC Title at The Main Event as originally planned. My question is this – under the original plan, was Savage supposed to enter the tournament as IC Champ (presumably meaning no IC Title match on the card) or defend the IC title at WM4? If the latter, who would have been in the tournament instead?

This was addressed somewhat up above. It appears that Savage was going to be in the tournament one way or the other, because the released brackets always involved Savage and the alteration that reportedly occurred after the finish of the tournament was changed did not remove him . . . it just flipped the order of the matches.

Plus, if you believe Bruce Prichard’s version of events referenced in answering the prior question, the plan was never for DiBiase to beat Hogan, so Savage stays in the tournament one way or the other.

Just when you thought you weren’t going to see him, it’s Tyler from Winnipeg:

How many stars do you give to Eddie Guerrero vs Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania?

I’m not as big a star rating guy as I used to be (which probably comes from watching less wrestling now than I ever have), but I recall having pegged it around four stars in the past.

We’ll return in seven-ish days, and, as always, you can contribute your questions by emailing [email protected]. You can also leave questions in the comments below, but please note that I do not monitor the comments as closely as I do the email account, so emailing is the better way to get things answered.