Andre The Giant vs. Franz Van Buyten
January 20, 1968
France

Reviewed by Kevin Hare (VOW Author Page / The Wrestling 101)

Gifted by Jack Beckmann (VOW Author Page / @packerman120)

Andre the Giant. Every wrestling fan has some sort of image in their head when they hear his name. Whether it is bumping like a maniac against Stan Hansen (check out the first Wrestling 101 article), getting slammed by Hulk Hogan (check out a future Wrestling 101 article), the legendary stories, or just his larger-than-life look and aura or his role in the Princess Bride, everyone has an image of Andre.

However, not as many people think of THIS version of Andre. Just four years into the business, the aura isn’t quite there yet. He almost feels timid during the introductions, not quite filling his massive frame yet. Once the match starts, he moves faster than we are used to seeing him. He bumps just moments into the match and sells for his more experienced, older opponent. This is not just “slap a hold on” wrestling, though. Van Buyten hit two 1968 flying head scissors in a row before Andre stuffed the third. 

The story of this match is Van Buyten wearing down his much larger opponent. Andre plays his role well, making Van Buyten look good but not giving him TOO much. Finally, Andre captures his opponent in a massive bear hug, wearing away at him and bringing Van Buyten to the mat. However, Van Buyten got to his feet like a ball of fire, attacking Andrew with big punches and European uppercuts. Andre hit an uppercut of his own. Van Buyten finally starts to show the wear. He never gives up, but each uppercut took more and more out of him. 

From here, it feels like Van Buyten is doomed. Andre hits more uppercuts and a massive rib breaker. More uppercuts. Another rib breaker…. But this time Van Buyten rolls it right into a kneebar. Andre takes over yet again. One more ribreaker and a big powerslam put Van Buyten away. He tried, with what energy he had, to kick out, but it wasn’t near enough.

This is a very interesting look at a young Andre the Giant. It is a simple match but an effective one. I was most impressed with Van Buyten, who I had never heard of before. He showed a lot of fire, led Andre through the match, and effectively showed the wear of having to face an actual giant as the match went on. This was a fun and interesting watch. My guess is Griffin Peltier gave me this one.