HBO’s ‘Andre The Giant’ Documentary is a Winner
When Bill Simmons joined HBO in July 2015, one of the things that enticed the premium network was his ability to produce sports documentaries. Simmons was the creator of the "30 for 30" series on ESPN, which has delivered some of the best sports films of all-time. HBO and Ross Greenburg started it all years before with their sports film series and now, Simmons is debuting his first documentary for the premium network.
Andre The Giant debuts tomorrow night at 8 p.m. on HBO and looks back at the life and career of Andre Roussimoff. If you a pro wrestling novice and have heard the name but not the story, this will be one of the more entertaining 83 minutes you can spend. Simmons and director Jason Hehir take you into the ring for many of Andre's most memorable matches and feuds. Professional wrestling legends like Hulk Hogan, Rick Flair, and Vince McMahon share their stories about the "8th Wonder of the World" that made him one of the great sports entertainment stars of the 1970s and 80s. They also spend time with cast and filmmakers from the 1987 film Princess Bride.
The documentary spends 25 minutes chronicling the rise of the WWE in the mid 80s and culminates with the classic Wrestlemania 3 main event match with Andre and Hogan. This was my only regret, since Simmons and Hehir devoted much of that time to Hogan's rise in the WWE and ignored some of Andre's best feuds with Ken Patera and Big John Studd like the famous haircut match in December 1984. They also did not mention the controversial victory Andre had against Hogan in 1988's Saturday Night Main Event. Although other members of the Roussimoff family were interviewed including his daughter Robin Christensen, they did not explore much of his personal life outside of the ring.
Despite some of these omissions, the Andre The Giant documentary is a must-see and a trip back down memory lane. I still remember watching my first pro wrestling match back in 1984 and it involved Andre and Patera. My dad called it "the greatest show on earth", and I was immediately hooked. I am happy that HBO is getting back into the sports documentary game again and I hope that Simmons can follow-up with more quality sports films.