Back to the WWE 2016 HOF Roundup for the legendary Stan Hansen. A lot of guys have done Texas cowboy gimmicks but none of them are quite on the level of Hansen. Much of his best work was in Japan but he had many solid runs in the United States over the years in WWWF in the 1970s and early 80s, the AWA where he was champion n 1985/86 (beating Section 309 HOFer Rick Martel for the title), Georgia Championship Wrestling, and even in WCW in 1990 where he had a U.S. title reign. I am no Hansen scholar but have enjoyed him at just about every turn.
One Man’s Opinion: Hansen was famous for being a very “snug” worker due in part to the fact that he could barely see while in the ring. Shortly after coming to WWWF in 1976, he was in a feud with Bruno Sammartino and Bruno got hurt in a match which was used to put over the power of Hansen’s lariat. This kind of thing would still be brought up years later in wrestling magazines so even if I didn’t see Hansen, I very much knew of him. Hansen would always be in the title picture in the U.S. but his name was made in Japan where he is probably the most famous American wrestler (gaijin) of all time.
After a run in New Japan Pro Wrestling, Hansen jumped to All Japan Pro Wrestling and had so many great tag partners: Bruiser Brody, Ted DiBiase, Terry Gordy, and Genichiro Tenryu. He beat both Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba, the kingpins of the two major Japanese promotions of the time. He had feuds with Bruno, Backlund, Misawa, and Kobashi. Who else can make that claim?
Hansen could be a bit persnickety at times. He abruptly left WCW in early 1991 because the storylines being drawn up for him sucked, which was very much true. As AWA champion in 1986, he refused to lose to a 50-something Nick Bockwinkel so he just left with the belt and destroyed it with his truck.
Most Famous Moment: There is a lot of Japan stuff to choose from, but I will have to go with the entire Bruno feud in 1976 because it put him on the map. The real injury to Bruno was used as a means to get Hansen over and it worked for years. Nobody did that to Bruno so that is why it was a gigantic deal.
Most Infamous Moment: Some people might point to the 1990 WCW skits where Missy Hyatt saw him in the locker room and he spit tobacco at her in response. While funny, I insist on bringing up his appearance in the movie No Holds Barred.
As the bar’s tough guy, it was his role to tell Brell’s flunkies that they have small penises. (Aside: Charles Levin, the one without glasses, was the gay butler in the pilot episode of Golden Girls) It was very easy to buy him as a crazy dude in a bar but looking back it’s sad he didn’t put up more of a fight against Zeus.
Best Match: While he might have had better matches against Japanese icons, I still am drawn to his 1981 match with Andre the Giant which I covered here. The video from that post has been taken down, but it is still available in two parts:
Nothing like a crazy brawl in a foreign land. He slams Andre before that became “a thing”. I doubt that will be brought up on Saturday night since Vince might have a stroke if they ruin his precious narrative.
Legacy: Often imitated, never duplicated. Hansen is THE Texas Cowboy and spawned many imitators ranging from jabronis like Ron Bass all the way to JBL, who is just pathetic. A true cowboy is a free spirit and he lived that gimmick in the business as an American doing most of his best stuff in Japan. He would come back to the United States on his own terms. It’s one of the coolest careers anyone could possibly have and will likely never be duplicated in the current landscape.