A MASSIVE Star was Once Arrested in Cedar Rapids [PHOTOS]
If you've ever dreamt of having a celebrity encounter, chances are that dream involves meeting, maybe having a meal with that celeb, right? It doesn't involve getting whooped by them. At least not for most of us...
I am a huge pro wrestling fan. Yes, that's right, even at 40 with no kids, I still love the fantasy world of professional wrestling. And maybe that's why I love it so much: it's fantasy.
In my lifetime I've been lucky enough to meet several pro wrestlers. Either by luck or by stalking them after a show. Um, by "stalking" I of course mean, politely following their vehicle out of the arena. Wait, that doesn't make it sound any better...
Back in the year 1989, the biggest, both literally and figuratively, WWF (World Wrestling Federation) star was André the Giant. Actually, his career was in a steep decline as his health was giving out. But he was still a household name and monster attraction.
André, whose real name was Andre Roussimoff, stood a massive 7-foot-4 and weighed 520-pounds according to his WWE bio. by the way, for those not aware, the WWF is now the WWE.
The year, as mentioned, was 1989, and the date was August 21st. wrestling was coming to town! The Five Seasons Center, now known as the PowerHouse, was playing host to an evening of professional wrestling. With no cameras rolling, the show, known as a house show, would feature action for the live audience and not a televised audience.
The Gazette reports that André The Giant was on the card and set to wrestle a now fellow WWE Hall of Famer, the Ultimate Warrior. Warrior was the babyface or, the good guy. André was the villain, or in wrestling terms, the "heel". A role he may have taken a bit too seriously that night.
For the show, 94.1 KRNA and KCRG-TV, our weather partner, spent a good deal of air time promoting the show. That night, Ben Hildebrandt, a KCRG cameraman, was supposedly told by the WWF that he could record André heading to the ring, but not in the ring.
André was in very poor shape and lost the match to the Warrior in under a minute. That was part of the show. The match went as planned. What happened next did not. Andre spotted Hildebrandt and thought he had filmed the match, as he was instructed not to. André smacked Hildebrandt and destroyed his camera. Hildebrandt was no match for André . Weighing under 200 pounds and standing in at 5-9, he was not a threat to fight back.
This was not a part of the show, and André had to be arrested for assault and property damage.
The Gazette reports Cedar Rapids police officer Dave Zahner had to bring André in. The big man initially refused, but eventually went peacefully. Because of his massive frame, André was fingerprinted on a standard sheet of paper. He was said to be calm, and even signed his fingerprinted sheet for the officer. A nice and truly unique souvenir, to say the least.
André was eventually found not guilty of assault. He was still fined $100 for criminal mischief and was made to pay $233 to KCRG for the camera. Hildebrandt was roughed up pretty badly and ended up in a neck brace for a short time, though he recovered fully.
The incident gained national attention and was even parodied in Mad Magazine.
Too bad Hildebrandt never got a return match against André at a pay-per-view. I think a steel cage match might have been kinda fun.
André the Giant passed away in 1993. He is in the WWE Hall of Fame, along with the Ultimate Warrior, his real opponent that night.