Andre beat Hogan for the title – and gave the belt to DiBiase – 25 years ago today

On February 5, 1988 – 25 years ago today – I and tens of millions of others saw Hulk Hogan lose the WWF Heavyweight Title to Andre the Giant on NBC.

It was a huge moment, as Hogan had not been pinned since he returned the federation and won the belt in January 1984.

I was working at JCPenney outlet store in Billerica, MA, on a Friday night shift, and it killed me that I couldn’t see this big match on TV at home. But luckily, the store had a home electronics section, so I made my way over to the TVs when the match came on. About a dozen other people, mostly shoppers, also watched.

Andre, who had lost to Hogan the year before at WrestleMania III, got his revenge thanks to what at the time was a unique angle involving an imposter referee (real-life twin refs Dave and Earl Hebner pulled off the famous scene).

After pinning Hogan, Andre relinquished the heavyweight belt to “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, which included a funny WWF blooper (Andre said he was giving DiBiase the “world tag team championship”).

DiBiase only held the belt for a brief time until then-WWF President Jack Tunney stripped him of the title, saying Andre could give up the belt, but could not bequeath it to another wrestler. Tunney’s speech went down in hard-core history as one of the worst-delivered promos of the 1980s.

The championship became vacant, setting up the title tournament at WrestleMania IV, which Randy “Macho Man” Savage won by beating DiBiase.

I was among those who saw DiBiase walk to the ring as WWF Heavyweight Champion for the first time. The day after Hogan lost, DiBiase and Andre fought Hogan and Bam Bam Bigelow in a matinee card at the old Boston Garden. DiBiase was introduced as the champion that afternoon.

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4 comments

  1. Richard

    Revenge for what hulk hogan defeated Andre the giant fair and square this rematch should not have occurred I was like the other 33 million couldn’t believe this happens especially on live national TV bottom line was this match never should’ve been signed hogan got screwed

  2. Pingback: Savage began his first WWF Heavyweight Title reign 25 years ago at WrestleMania IV | Boston Garden Balcony
  3. Evan J Rodgers

    I always thought it was sad and pathetic to have the great Andre the Giant win the title, only to give it to DiBiase. It was also sad to see the beginning of the end for Andre. Nonetheless, it was a exiting time in wrestling history and DiBiase was championship caliber!!! I really think Andre the Giant could have been a great WWF Champion- he could have been a great NWA Champion, he could have been a great AWA Champion. He deserved better than what he got.

  4. Joe

    Wow 25 years just like that. Amazing, I thought this storyline was huge for two reasons. The first being that Hogan and Andre feud was huge draw back then. Mainstream media coverage of pro wrestling was all over the WWF. Second reason, this match was broadcast on NBC with a prime time tv viewing audience. Both of these reasons were huge. 1988 was an even bigger year for the WWF as they were coming off the WM3 gate. This was also the money making-marketing machine Vince McMahon was building at the time. Funny thing in all this, people were paying top dollar to see Andre the Giant wrestle even though he was starting to deteriorate physically. Vince sure did get his money worth with this investment.

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