As we look back through 32 years of iconic WrestleMania moments, there's little doubt as to the singular moment in wrestling history -- the one that stands above all others in the memories of wrestling fans. It was 30 years ago Tuesday that the irresistible force met the immovable object. The moment that Hulk Hogan body slammed Andre the Giant to the mat at WrestleMania III continues to stand the test of time, even three decades later.
As big as that moment was, the build-up to that moment and the slam heard around the world was also the greatest match promotion in sports entertainment history.
WWE champion Hulk Hogan and the undefeated Andre the Giant were the best of friends. No one was more thrilled when Hogan took home the championship in 1984 than Andre. Andre showered the Hulkster with champagne during a backstage interview following his title victory, and remained by his side for years.
That began to change over the course of several editions of "Rowdy" Roddy Piper's memorable "Piper's Pit" segments; it all started when Hogan was given a trophy on the three year anniversary of his championship win. "Three years to be a champion. It's a long time," said Andre, showing his first signs of jealousy and foreshadowing the anger to come as he initiated a stiff handshake with Hogan.
Exactly one week later on "Piper's Pit," Andre was presented a noticeably smaller trophy to celebrate his remarkable achievement as being the only undefeated wrestler in WWE history. Soon after Andre accepted the award, Hogan emerged to offer his congratulations. Andre coldly walked off the set as Hogan sang his praises.
Two weeks later came the defining moment as they returned once more to Piper's Pit. Andre, now flanked by Bobby Heenan, stood face-to-face with Hogan, challenging him for the WWE championship at WrestleMania III. He proceeded to rip Hogan's shirt from his back, and the crucifix from around his neck -- drawing blood from Hogan's chest in the process. A heartbroken Hogan, having seen his friend turn to Heenand and the dark side, accepted the challenge as he fought through tears.
The match was set.
On March 29, 1987, more than 93,000 screaming fans at the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan watched as Hogan slowly approached Andre in the middle of the ring to start the match -- a goose bump-inducing moment in and of itself.
After a failed attempt at a body slam on Andre early in the match, Hogan mustered up some strength and "Hulked up," as he so famously did on so many occasions -- seemingly drawing the power for the biggest slam fans had ever seen from the crowd itself. Hogan followed up the slam with his patented leg drop and gained the victory in the middle of the ring -- triggering an eruption of applause and noise from the excited fans who had just witnessed history.
Even in a career as prolific as Hogan's, this show, this match and this moment will forever define his career.