Certain angles, for whatever reason, stick with you from youth. Andre the Giant and Killer Khan had a feud in the 1981 that was based in storyline on Khan breaking Andre’s leg. In reality, Andre likely hurt it outside the ring, and the Khan plot was a nice tie-in to his real-life injury.
But what really set the feud on fire was an simple angle on Saturday morning WWF Championship Wrestling in which Khan attacked a recovering Andre with his crutch.
What I remember most about the incident wasn’t the beating (30:02 into this YouTube clip), but announcer Vince McMahon’s reaction.
McMahon was conducting an interview in front of the live audience with Andre about when the giant would return to the ring. Suddenly, Classy Freddie Blassie, Khan’s manager, came out and claimed Andre was washed up, calling him a “palooka,” which was a classic Blassie insult that one of my friends used to always quote in the same breath he talked about Blassie’s record album.
The album is probably another post.
Anyway, McMahon was great in this segment, telling Blassie, “You’re not invited!” Andre whacks Blassie with his cane (it was rare to see Blassie take a bump as a manager), and then Andre loses his balance and falls against McMahon and the ring apron. Khan runs out, grabs a crutch, and nails Andre with it.
And the point I recall vividly to this day: Just before Khan connects with the crutch, Vince looks at him and yells out, “No, no, no, no!”
Andre and Khan ended up having a strong run with their feud, culminating in a series of “Mongolian stretcher matches” in several of the big East Coast cities, including Boston in October 1981. Andre actually recuperated from his legitimate broken leg in Boston at one of the hospitals here.
Khan later returned to the WWE in 1987 for a house show feud with Hulk Hogan.