ST. PETERSBURG — In the first two days of Hulk Hogan's $100 million defamation trial against gossip site Gawker over his leaked sex tape, there has been talk of "thong-shaped" tan lines and the length of the former professional wrestler's man parts.
The jury even heard several rambling minutes of testimony from the Hulk — real name Terry Bollea — about why he wears those bandanas all the time. (Answer: because he's self-conscious about his big balding head.)
One of the best moments so far of the increasingly juicy trial came when Shane Vogt, attorney for Bollea, recounted his client's greatest accomplishments, citing one moment that surely made Hulkmaniacs everywhere nostalgic for the good ol' days:
Hogan attorney is listing his client's accomplishments. Among them: WrestleMania III, body slamming André the Giant #hulkvsgawk
It was the moment 29 years ago when Hulk Hogan body-slammed André the Giant, known by wrestling fans as "The Slam Heard Around the World."
There's quite a bit of pop culture history wrapped into that 1987 body-slam. It happened during the World Wrestling Federation's WrestleMania III showdown at the Pontiac Silverdome (The WWF later became the WWE.)
What made this "possibly the single most iconic moment in WWE history" was the background of the two wrestlers. Hulk Hogan, then a little more tan with a little less hair, had made a name for himself, but was no match for the 7-foot-4, 520-pound André the Giant, according to this account from the British newspaper The Independent:
Ever since Hogan's arrival in the WWF, he and Andre were always referred to as the best of friends, with Andre being the first to celebrate with Hogan after "The Hulkster's" title win over The Iron Sheik. Andre would state on numerous occasions that he had no intentions of challenging for the WWF title while Hogan was champion, simply enjoying wrestling and watching his pal Hogan carry the WWF title.
This would all change at a ceremony which celebrated the achievements of the two men.
In a fantastic, subtle piece of storytelling, Hogan and Andre would be awarded a trophy each. Hogan's trophy was in recognition of his three year reign as WWF Champion, Andre's for his "fifteen year unbeaten reign" (even by wrestling standards this was a ridiculous stretch). The only problem was that Hogan's statue dwarfed Andre's, and this didn't sit well with the giant, who stormed off the set of "Piper's Pit" as Hogan came out to congratulate him. The seed had been sown.
On the next (edition) of "Piper's Pit," Hogan was confronted by Andre, who had Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, wrestling's premier heel manager, by his side. As Hogan tried to plead with Andre to see sense and leave Heenan behind, Andre challenged "The Immortal One" to a match at WrestleMania III, with Hogan's title on the line. The sight of Andre tearing not only Hogan's shirt but the crucifix from his neck remains a powerful image to this day. Hogan would soon accept the challenge and the main event for the third installment of WrestleMania was set — Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant for the WWF Heavyweight Championship.
The showdown was full of shiny bodies, wincing faces and head punches. The tension built and the bodies weakened. There was stumbling and flailing and flopping.
Then came the slam.
In the middle of the ring, André the Giant pulled up a waning Hulk Hogan by his bleached and stringy hair. André the Giant flung Hogan into the elastic ropes with the intention of kicking the Hulk as he sprang back toward the ring. Instead, the Hulkster dodged André the Giant's outstretched boot, sending himself into the ropes on the opposite side.
With that momentum, the Hulk propelled himself toward his opponent, larger in height and weight, and delivered the infamous blow. The Giant went down, and so did Hulk.
As his opponent rolled around on the mat, Hogan moved to all fours, whipped his head back and forth and started to the Hulkster out. He roared, he raged, he pumped his fists.
Then he turned to the now-upright André the giant, scooped him up and threw him to the ground. The Hulk ran toward the ropes once more, bounced back into the ring and leg-slammed the writhing André the Giant before pinning him to win the whole thing.
According to Uproxx.com, André the Giant (real name: André René Roussimoff) was moving on from professional wrestling to acting when in 1986 then-WWF chairman and CEO Vince McMahon convinced the French wrestler to finish his career in front of the massive crowd he hoped would watch WrestleMania III (though some dispute the accuracy of the then-record crowd of 93,173.)
McMahon set the stage for the "The Slam Heard Around the World" by visiting André the Giant on the set of the film that cemented his status as a movie star: The Princess Bride, which also came out in 1987. André the Giant needed back surgery before WrestleMania III, and recuperated at McMahon's home.
According to Hogan, McMahon didn't decide that the Hulkster would vanquish André the Giant until the night before the match. Here's how Hogan described it in the Uproxx.com artricle, saying André the Giant had to approve the idea of losing one of the greatest matches in the carefully staged history of professional wrestling:
"I didn't expect Vince to make up his mind until the eleventh hour. Finally, at almost twelve o'clock the night before Wrestle(M)ania, Vince came to me and said, 'I want you to win the match.' The only problem was, he hadn't discussed it yet with André. If (André) had said, 'I won't let Hogan win,' I wouldn't have won. That's all there was to it."
In 2007, WrestleMania returned to the Detroit area. This time McMahon himself became the storyline. WrestleMania 23 was billed as the "Battle of the Billionaires." His rival: businessman-turned-reality TV star Donald Trump (real name: Donald John Trump Sr.), star of the NBC reality TV show The Apprentice.
The wrestler managed by Trump prevailed over McMahon's wrestler. The victorious Trump proceeded to shave McMahon's head in front of the announced crowd of 80,103 at Ford Field.
Then, in a sudden twist that only takes place a dozen or so times during every WrestleMania, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (real name: Steven James Anderson) unleashed his famous "Stone Cold Stunner" upon Trump.
Trump, of course, is now the leading Republican candidate running for president of the United States.
The circle of life is now complete.
Contact Katie Mettler at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3446. Follow @kemettler on Twitter.