In the second ‘Tag teams of yesteryear‘ a series which looks at the good, and not so good from tag teams wrestling history, we take a look at a former tag team under the tutelage of Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan, namely the team of Andre the Giant and Haku: The Colossal Connection.
During his legendary run with the World Wrestling Federation, Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan, arguably the greatest wrestling manager of all time, had two teams under his charge who managed to wear the WWE tag team champions: the iconic team of Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard, The Brain Busters, as well as Andre the Giant, the 8th wonder of the world, and Hakua.
Andre is one of the most famous names in the history of the business. A man now as synonymous with tales of his alcohol capacity as he is for his in-ring efforts. However, there is no doubt that he was one of the biggest names ever in the wrestling business. He was so in demand, in fact, that at one point in the 1970s he was earning as much as $400,000 a year which works out, when taking into account inflation, at more than $4m now.
Much of his demand was down to never overstaying his welcome in any one territory. This changed in 1984 when Vince McMahon jr, having bought the WWF from his father, signed him to a full-time contract, although did allow him to appear in Japan.
Although one of the biggest (literally) babyfaces through the 1970s and early 80s, Andre agreed to turn heel in 1987 in order to face Hulk Hogan in the main event of WrestleMania 3. It was a visibly immobile Andre who headlined that show, not long back from a spell on the sidelines, to tend to his health—effects from his acromegaly that were beginning to take their toll.
Andre’s appearances became shorter and shorter as the WWF attempted to extend his run with the company. By 1989, a year he was awarded in the Wrestling Observer awards ‘Worst Wrestler’, ‘Most Embarrassing Wrestling’ as well as ‘Worst Worked Match’ and ‘Worst Feud’ for his programme with the Ultimate Warrior, he was becoming even less mobile.
With his manager Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan soon to be losing the services of The Brain Busters, who returned to the NWA – well, Arn did, he was devoid of a tag team. The decision was then taken to team Andre with Haku, a legend in his own right for his much-publicised toughness.
The pair had teamed previously on the house show circuit, it was formalising something that was already taken place. More importantly, in the eyes of the WWF, it could prolong his career as well as giving the company a strong addition to the tag team division.
Andre and Haku first teamed up at Survivor Series 1989, along with Arn Anderson and Heenan himself – Tully was released on the day of the show – as The Heenan Family against The Warriors, The Ultimate Warrior, The Rockers and Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart. Andre departed early in the match which was won by the Ultimate Warrior.
Soon after that event, the now named Colossal Connection began challenging then champions Demolition for their tag team titles. During these matches, as well as the majority of others, Andre did very little with Haku doing the bulk of the wrestling.
At a TV taping at the Von Braun Civic Center on December 13, 1989, Andre the Giant and Haku defeated Demolition in under five minutes to win the title. The challengers dominated the match throughout and the finish came when Haku hit a kick to the face of Ax and Andre dropped an elbow for the pin. The heels had successfully isolated Ax, preventing him from tagging in his partner.
The two teams would continue to feud through to WrestleMania 6 where they would meet again. During the match at Wrestlemania, Haku wrestled Demolition by himself, never tagging in the Giant due to continued health problems, issues that would lead to his death less than three years later.
That WrestleMania VI match was Andre’s last televised match with the WWF, although he did team up with Haku another time to challenge Demolition for the tag titles at a house show in Hawaii, although they were unsuccessful. After that bout, Andre and Haku fought each other, marking the official break-up of the Colossal Connection. Andre went on to tag-team with Giant Baba April 13 at a combined WWF/All Japan/New Japan show in Tokyo, Japan. The pairing of Andre and Baba would defeat Demolition in a non-title match with Andre pinning Smash.
A great tag team? No. But an attempt to prolong the career of one of the most popular wrestling acts of all time. The best of Andre was long behind him by the time he began teaming with Haku, something which forced the Tonga-born wrestler to do much of the work.
All other ‘Tag Teams of Yesteryear’ pieces will be found here.