The 6 best moments of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Nobody quite knew what they were in for when the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal was unveiled at WrestleMania 30, but as it turns out, what began as a wild New Orleans experiment four years ago has turned into one of the most dependable troves of WrestleMania moments The Showcase of the Immortals has to offer. From celebrity appearances to wild encounters, the Battle Royal has matured into a true cornerstone of sports-entertainment's lofiest peak As the sixth annual edition of the Andre looms large, let’s count down the five coolest things that have happened during WrestleMania’s first — but now not only — signature over-the-top-rope brawl.
Matt Hardy’s bananas reinvention as the space-and time-bending “Woken” Matt Hardy was one of the more outlandishly popular subplots heading into WrestleMania 34, though things seemed to have peaked a few weeks before the big show when he defeated Bray Wyatt in a phantasmagoric “Ultimate Deletion” that occurred throughout the ghoulish Hardy Compound. Still, The Woken One had more delights in store, as it turns out, winning the fifth Andre the Giant Battle Royal with an assist from Wyatt himself, beginning a partnership that led to a Raw Tag Team Title reign as The Deleters of Worlds. Matt is back in OG Hardy Boyz mode once again, but his tribute to “Humungous Wonder Number Eight” will live on as a reminder that for all its grandeur, WrestleMania might be at its best when it’s at its most inexplicably strange.
We Are NXT
The first Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal was a showcase for Raw and SmackDown Superstars only, but the three subsequent ones have doubled as introductions for some of the finest talent that NXT has to offer. The 2015 edition saw the arrival of the hammer-fisted Cruiserweight Hideo Itami (who won the honor in a WrestleMania Axxess tournament), while Killian Dain made the final stretch of 2017’s sun-drenched contest. As for 2016, that was the de facto coming out party for Baron Corbin, who was not only a surprise entrant for the AT&T Stadium faithful, but ended up eliminating Kane to win the whole thing.
Mizdow goes the distance
Of all the assistants who ever wanted to (and decided to) beat up The Miz, none were as beloved as Damien Mizdow, the onetime Intellectual Savior of the Masses who was recruited as The A-Lister’s “stunt double” and ended up stealing his thunder by mimicking everything he did. Tensions between them finally erupted during the 2015 Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, where Mizdow tossed his benefactor over the top rope en route to a Cinderella run to the final two. Alas, the clock struck midnight when Big Show eliminated him to win the match, but Mizdow finally seizing his independence was worth a “Hallelujah” all the same.
The World’s Largest Athletes
The long-rumored WrestleMania match between Big Show and Shaq never did happen, but that doesn’t mean they never faced off at The Show of Shows. The Big Aristotle was a surprise entrant into the 2016 Andre Battle Royal, where he went head-to-head with The World’s Largest Athlete in a cross-sport clash of titans. Unfortunately, both Superstars were eliminated just moments later, which might be the best thing in the long run. Had they been allowed to continue, Jerry Jones might be down a stadium.
Gronk hinders Jinder
Good thing that Jinder Mahal became WWE Champion in the back end of 2017, because he began his year with an absolute shellacking from Rob Gronkowski, the New England Patriots tight end who was fresh off a Super Bowl win and sitting ringside to watch his buddy Mojo Rawley compete in the Andre. When the match came down to Mojo and The Maharaja, Jinder got a little too familiar with Gronk by tossing a soda in his face. In response, the big man got into the ring, assumed a three-point stance and de-cleated Mahal with a shoulder tackle that allowed Mojo to eliminate his opponent and pick up the win. And, lest you think Mahal forgot this slight when Gronk and the Patriots came up short in the next year’s Super Bowl, rest assured: He did not.
Cesaro Section — New Orleans Edition
The original surprise entrant in the Andre also ended up producing its most enduring moment. Cesaro had already fallen short of a WWE Tag Team Title bid with The Real Americans when he resurfaced in the inaugural edition of the Battle Royal, and though it was hard to pick him out initially, he began to emerge more and more as a dark horse as the field began to thin. When it came down to The King of Swing and Big Show, Cesaro ended up paying tribute to Andre himself in the most unexpected way possible: By hoisting Show into a bodyslam and tossing him over the top rope. The King of Swing didn’t just get himself a bona fide WrestleMania moment, he captured the trophy, the hearts of the WWE Universe, and maybe a brass ring or two while he was at it.