Very few men ever dared to challenge Andre the Giant, but Bad News Allen was not an ordinary man. A mixture of alcohol, locker room talk, and racial slurs almost led to these two alpha males coming to blows on a bus in the land of the rising sun.
Source: RFVideo, Wrestling Observer Newsletter
The year was 1980, and New Japan Pro Wrestling was in the midst of one of its biggest tours ever. On what was a star-studded bus ride, a slew of pro wrestling’s biggest legends were driving to their hotel. Bad News Allen, who was only a few years into the business, was sitting in his usual spot two seats from the front. Behind him was none other than Hulk Hogan, who had to become a what he later became, but was still a big star with New Japan and parts of the US.
Dusty Rhodes, aside from Andre the Giant, was the biggest star on the bus. He himself had heat with Bad News Allen, stemming from Allen’s time in Florida when he heard Dusty call SD Jones the N-word (meant as more like friends joking around rather than an insult, but Allen understandably still hated hearing the word). We’re not sure if Dusty’s heat with Allen had already taken place before this incident with Andre.
Stan Hansen was also on the bus, and was a huge star with New Japan at the time. Allen remembers the recently deceased Chavo Guerrero Sr being on the bus as well. Andre the Giant was of course there, sitting in the back, drinking heavily as usual. At this point in time, Andre was still among the biggest pro wrestling attractions in the world. While he was already past his prime, he was not yet completely immobile and injured like he was many years later in the WWF.
As of this writing, the only two names mentioned above still alive today would be Hogan and Hansen.
Andre, who was drunk, was making racial remarks and used the dreaded N-word. It should be noted that racial jokes were told regularly in those days, and Allen knew that. His viewpoint was that if someone was a racist, he didn’t care as long as they didn’t make those remarks around him. He also had a hard time putting over guys he thought were racist, but otherwise he tried to not let it bother him.
But Andre used the word knowing Allen was there. Allen was half asleep, but still heard it and couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
He told Andre to watch his mouth and that he didn’t like what he was saying and that it was an insult to him. Andre didn’t really say anything back, but after a few minutes or so, the alcohol took over.
“Hey Bad News!” yelled Andre.
“Go f*ck yourself,” said the Giant.
Everyone went silent. Allen, who was friends with the bus driver, told him to pull over.
Bad News got up, pissed, told Andre to get off the bus and tell him that to his face. Andre didn’t exactly get right up and get in his face, but Allen was being aggressive and wanting to fight, perhaps against his better judgment. The scene is very similar to what led to the fight between Road Warrior Hawk and Too Cold Scorpio on a bus in North Korea, where Hawk allegedly used the N-word and Scorpio had no choice but to defend himself. But here, unlike with Hawk and Scorpio, the two didn’t come to blows.
Allen started taking off his earrings and putting them in his bag, preparing for a confrontation. Fortunately Hansen and the others were able to prevent anything from happening, and the bus continued on to the hotel.
Once they got off the bus, Allen was still hot. Hansen tried to calm him down, saying Andre was drunk (true) and didn’t mean it. Still, Allen wasn’t satisfied. He went to his hotel room and didn’t sleep all night.
The next day, Allen came down to the lobby early and waited for Andre. With time to process everything, Allen was still upset but also wise enough to know that it’s a fight he was better off avoiding. Nobody really knew what Andre was capable of, aside from the time he dragged Dick Murdoch and Blackjack Mulligan to the ocean and almost drowned them both at the same time.
Andre came out of the elevator and immediately Allen went up to him and told him to come outside. Andre was confused and didn’t understand why, and hesitated. He was so drunk that he probably didn’t even remember what happened. Allen told him that if he wanted to hurt him, he’d have jumped him when he got off the elevator.
They went outside and Allen told him he didn’t appreciate the way he talked to him on the bus. He told Andre that he doesn’t hear him insult his people, so why do that to him? Andre said he was part Polish, so he was used to racial jokes (Polish jokes have been around for decades, perhaps more so than any other ethnicity). Allen said it didn’t matter, that he doesn’t say that stuff about him and that he didn’t ever want to hear Andre say it again.
Andre apologized, thankfully preventing any further problems. Allen said there was always tension between the two, and they were always on the same tour together and didn’t really speak much. He did say that before Andre died the two did bury the hatchet.
The funniest part of the story was Hulk Hogan later told Bad News that when he was taking off his earrings on the bus and putting them into his bag, he was afraid Allen was going to pull out a gun. Allen laughed and asked why, and Hogan said he had never seen anyone talk to Andre like that before and figured he had to have been armed. He was afraid Allen was going to go crazy and shoot everyone on the bus, so Hogan ducked under the seat when Allen was reaching into his bag.
Allen later told Dave Meltzer that he was afraid he may have very well gotten his ass beaten by Andre. He said he still wanted to make his point, and that, “At worst I’d go down swinging and he’d know I was there.”