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Favorite Stan Hansen matches!!!!

Guest Col. Da Bears

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Guest Rob Naylor

First and foremost... here's a fucking kickass video of Stan Hansen with the greatest tribute song/video ever... a speed-metal ballad to the Lariat!



Aight, here we go.... Hansen's probably in my top five wrestlers ever.... Seriously. I know this "top five" changes every couple months... but it def goes like...


1. Manny

2. Gordy

3. Windham

4. Hansen

5 Interchangeable 5th dude - , Rude, Rey Misterio Jr., Sabu, Pac (from UK), Mascarita Dorada, Buddy Rose, Murdoch, Headhunter B, CM Punk, Chris Hero, Brian Pillman *you get the point*


Well, fucking Stan Hansen is DEF top five so I was wondering what most people's favorite Hansen matches were. I remember making myself a super fun/expensive Jeff Lynch compilation of Hansen matches about 5 years back. If I'm not mistaken, I'm sure I culled the list from jdw's fucking amazing "Top All Japan matches fo the 90's" listing/reviews on DBDMB, which I still say is some of the best stuff ever written on wrestling (seriouslly, jdw, I'd buy a giant book of all your All Japan Torch reviews!).....


So what's everyone's favorite Stan stuff.... Mine goes like this....


1. Stan Hansen vs. Toshiaki Kawada (2/28/93) - Goddamnest LARIAT ever with Hansen's force knocking himself out ring.

2. Stan Hansen vs. Kenta Kobashi (7/29/93) (famous match with the buckle lariat of doooom!)

3. Stan Hansen vs. Mitsuharu Misawa (7/27/90) - is the date right? I love the match where Stan was KO'd and pinned by Misawa's elbow. Match was what it was, but sometimes a finish like that just stays with you for 20 years!

4. Stan Hansen & Terry Gordy vs. Genichiro Tenryu & Toshiaki Kawada (12/16/88) - SHIT YEAH.. 5 star tag imo. Great story and four of the all time greatest rocking it.

5. Stan Hansen vs. Big Van Vader (2/24/91) - super overrating this, but fuck it. I love this match. Fans live were like "JEEESUS" and Dusty and Ross on commentary legit were marking out for the brutality. Great stuff.

6. Stan Hansen vs. Kenta Kobashi (4/16/93) (wicked HH)

7. Stan Hansen & Dan Spivey vs. Terry Gordy & Dr. Death (12/4/91) - High impact greatness. Spivey was a year better here, this I picked this tag.



8. Stan Hansen & Maunakea Mossman vs. Toshiaki Kawada & Genichiro Tenryu (7/23/00) - one of Stan's last matches is one of my favorites! Enjoyed Stan beating the piss out of Kawada and Tenryu one last time and Mossman was great in this too.

9. Hansen vs. Blackwell - never saw this in real HQ video, but as a kid it was my fave and I have 8th gen copy of it now. Hansen and Blackwell should have had like 100 more matches, imo

10. Hansen/Gordy vs. Brody/Snuka-fly - Summer 88. I loved Brody vs. Hansen for the 1st *only?* time and Snuka and Gordy ruled in this too.


I'm sure I've not seen or heard about a ton more Stan Hansen stuff, so everyone feel free to contribute...

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Your number one there is a hell of a brutal match. You know how usually when there are strikes in a match, they will either cut to a different angle or kinda stay a little loose on the shot? Yeah, they don't do that here. No need to. They just beat the snot outta each other.


Which match is the one Hansen legit gets knocked out and goes nuts? Maybe not my favorite Hansen match, but my favorite moment from him.

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Guest Rob Naylor

There's a ton of earlier Hansen I've not even seen too, come to think of it.


I remember when he was AWA champ in 1986, even though I only read Wrestling Mags and thought it was all real, I always thought "Man, AWA's dude could totally kick Flair and Hogan's ass".


It's crazy, in that as varied as Hansen's career was, there were so many potential huge runs he could have had in the states, but he (smartly) just chose to remain a legend in Japan.


I spent like $50 on a program from Hansen's All Japan retirement show earlier in the decade and despite not being able to read Japanese, it's like my favorite wrestling related marky item I've ever purchased.


I would have really dug it if Hansen stuck around in WCW, even part time, till 1992... as you know Watts would have pushed a big Sting vs. Hansen program, which would have totally kicked ass. It's funny, but Hansen always speaks highly of Luger and says Luger took everything he had when they had their feud. So yay Lex.

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vs. Andre 9/23/81

w/ Gordy vs. Tenryu & Kawada 12/16/88

vs. Kawada 2/28/93

vs. Kobashi 7/29/93

Those are the top four Hansen matches that I've seen.


There is a few good-great vs. Misawa matches, notably 8/22/92 and IIRC 5/21/93.

I love the 3/4/95 TC match against Kawada more than most as well.

vs. Kobashi during the carny in both '93 and '94 are great matches.

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I've never seen, or at least, never recall seeing any of Vader's work in Germany. Was it subpar, or better than expected? Similarly, I recall somewhat, seeing Hansen's name at least once in Germany section going through Lynch's list a while back.


Good topic Naylor. Hansen deserves more appreciation because he was physically handicapped but ended being one of the best workers ever anyway and because of it sometimes.


I never really say it, but Hansen is one of favorites.

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Hansen might've been Baba's best opponent. Stan sold Shohei's offense perfectly. And when I say that, I don't just mean "he pinball-bumped around the ring and screamed in pain for even the weakest strikes". I mean he had this way of selling the hell out of it while very much not looking like he was over-selling. Some guys would try too hard to make Baba's offense look good, and it ended up almost looking like a comedy match when they'd fling themselves around for those weak-ass chops and such. Hansen walked a tightrope and made it look like the stuff hurt without insulting your intelligence about it.

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The 11/16/91 Hansen/Spivey v Misawa/Kawada tag might be my favourite Hansen performance. Not my favourite Hansen *match*, but he's seriously incredible as a crazy motherfucker in that tag. Kawada starts giving him his little kicks to the head at one point and Hansen just goes berserk, punting him in the head and trying to kick his kidneys through his ribcage. A little later Spivey has Kawada in a Boston crab, and Hansen just walks into the ring and starts stomping on his head, then he goes and gets a chair and blasts him with it, all while he's still in the Boston crab. Then he hurls the chair all the way across the ring at Misawa who's still on the apron, and when Misawa launches it back at him he dives clean out of the ring to get out the way. Just an amazingly surly performance.


And the first Baba match on the AJ set is kingsized as well. There's always this sense of dread any time Hansen throws someone into the ropes because there's a good chance they're about to be decapitated. How many guys can make a fucking Irish whip seem like the scariest thing ever?

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Not exactly the same, though. In America, Hansen would do more crowd brawling and chair throwing and less of the relatively traditional keep-it-in-the-ring stuff he did in All Japan. And it seemed like he was a bit less stiff. Or to put it another way, in AWA he tended to play up the Stone Cold parts of his repertoire and play down the Vader bits.

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In those specific matches, sure. I'm just talking about what I've seen in general of Stan not-in-Japan, and it feels like he tended to brawl on the floor a lot more whenever he wasn't working for Baba. It's not something he always did, but he did it a lot more in America.

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To be clear there is floor brawling in those matches, just not crowd brawling. Of course there is plenty of floor brawling from Hansen in Japan as well. And in Japan he made his entrance swinging a cowbell at fans half the time.


If you watch the Hansen v. Hennig draw it is different than Hansen v. Kobashi but not so much because of any brawling that does or doesn't happen on the floor and more because of what the opponents bring, the differing styles of the promotion and the amount of time allotted.

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Stan is definitely one of my personal Big Four (along with Jumbo, Misawa, and Terry Funk). The fifth spot would change based on mood but there's never really been a point in relevant memory where those haven't been my shortlist. Stan would have great matches once in a while, but almost always seemed reliable to be at least "very good". And there's a sense of genuine chaos to his matches you really just don't get a sense of in most other matches. He was a guy that could actually have fights with a sense of "struggle" - which so much wrestling is missing - that you could suspend disbelief about and get a real sense of not being really sure what was going to happen next, when he was on. It's just a thing of beauty when it comes off. Stan at his best came off like this unpredictable nut, and it was just a hoot to watch.


He's also a guy that really belongs for me in the discussion of great all-time tag team wrestlers. Almost every other regular American in All Japan seems to have been his partner at one point (except Dr. Death). Again I think it's not so much about the matches right at the top end as it is about just the sheer number of matches on that next level down, where there's just so many fun matches you can come across over his career.


If you asked me to build the fantasy la-la land promotion and I had to pick a guy to build around that I thought could consistently give me that good match against just about any opponent, Stan is right there at the top.


He never worked much in the States but even so I've seen very little of it. I'VE GOT A FAT WIFE AND NINE KIDS TO FEED comes to mind as a highlight, and I like his match with Luger as one of those "very good/odd collectible" things that happened. Would have been interesting if he'd been around more I agree, but he produced a ton of great work in Japan once he went back for a while there, so I won't complain. Hopefully a couple new gems come out of the 1980's project.


I find it baffling Hansen vs. Flair either never happened, or at the very least never happened anywhere that was taped. How the hell can that be? It's just... not right. You would think at some point in the 1980's when Flair was around All Japan as a guest attraction that at the very least they must have pitched the idea. That's got to be right at the top of the list of my all time dream matches that would not have required time travel or something really weird happening.


Also his AJPW theme is probably my favourite wrestling theme song ever. So there's a bonus point.

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Hansen was never in any U.S. territory long enough to make a huge stand. Right now he has 8 nominated AWA matches which considering the length of his tenure with the company is actually quite good. Looking at what is out there I would imagine everyone of those matches would make the set in some capacity or another. I'd say a couple of them are top ten contenders. I could see Bock v. Hansen from Wrestlerock doing really well also.


Hansen is one of my favorites of all time. It's strange to compare him to the guy, but I always saw him as Rey Misterio type in the sense that he has a distinct character and style that he is so great at that you don't want to see him do anything else though when he does deviate he hardly looks out of place (for example Hansen was a pretty fun chain wrestler when he wanted to be). Even with all of the new footage and wrestlers I've seen over the last few years, Hansen is someone who I literally can not fathom being worse than top twenty all time. Realistically I would probably have him in the 10-15 range and he would rate ahead of at least some of the "usual suspects" candidates (for example I would rate him above Kobashi, Vader, Steamboat, Windham, et).


Hansen v. Inoki series hasn't been mentioned yet. I did not think this was an off the charts series, but I thought it was a very fucking good one and I think it says something about Hansen that he was arguably the best gajin opponent of both Inoki and Baba. The build and psych in the Inoki matches are really good and their is a narrative to the series as a whole that I liked a lot.


Finally getting around to answering Naylor outright. My favorite Hansen matches at the moment (and I still have A LOT of the AJPW Set to watch) would be:


1) Hansen v. Funk 4-14-83


Possibly my favorite match of all time actually. Violent brawl, with Terry selling his ass off, and the stuff with Hansen and the rope being some of the craziest images ever in wrestling. Great match.


2) Hansen v. Andre 9/23/81


Fucking great clash of the titans match with cool psych and build to the lariat, Andre bumping like a champ, et. Probably a top ten "epic feel" match with Hansen's lariat v. Andre's size being a great dynamic.


3) Hansen v. Kobashi 7/29/93


Probably my favorite AJPW singles match of the 90's. Definitely my favorite finish of the 90's, made even better if you have seen the post-match images of Kobashi. Awesome match.


4) Hansen v. Hennig


Not sure of the date on this as they had two tv matches. One of them was great. The match I'm talking about goes to a draw and follows an angle with Jerry Blackwell's ankle being destroyed and is a tremendous, balls to the fucking wall, fight. Also doubles as the match where Hennig really "arrived" as a contender in the AWA.


5) Hansen v. Funk (1990)


Nowhere near a top Hansen match or Funk match for that matter, but I love the outdoor setting, the fight in the lake and the post-match chaos so much. Probably my favorite example of how wild and crazy the U.S. indies were in the post-territory-pre-ECW/SMW period.


Really I could have included any Funk v. Hansen match or a match that includes those two on opposite teams. It's also worth noting that the top three here would probably be in my top fifteen, if not top ten all time favorite matches period.

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I revisited all of the 1993 AJPW on ditch's site in the last year and Stan has a really good shot at "best in the world" in a very competitive year. Adding that in with the 80s NJPW and AJPW sets and I'm starting to rethink where I might place him on a GOAT list.


As for favorite matches, let me mention the Misawa vs Hansen Triple Crown match from 5/21/93. Here's what I wrote on WKO:


I never saw this one before and I loved it. I always hate when someone gets a limb worked over, sells it for a bit then forgets about it when it's convenient. I hate when there's no effort to find a new strategy. Misawa gets his right arm worked over for a good chunk of time here but still goes for elbows and I'll be damned but it makes sense. Misawa used that elbow to win the title the first time against Hansen so even if it's injured he still takes some big chances throwing that elbow around. Sometimes it fails and Hansen continues the assault, sometimes an elbow smash creates some space for a minute but requires Misawa to take a breather, and sometimes it leads to a big nearfall but leaves the question of whether or not Misawa can capitalize dangling in the air. I would place this at a similar level as those awesome Hashimoto vs Tenryu singles and you could probably draw up a number of similarities.


I mainly focused on Misawa there but Hansen's attack on Misawa's arm as well as his selling of each one of those shots makes what Misawa was doing even more compelling. I don't know if either guy could have had that match with anyone else.

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Stan rules.


Not a "best" list, but favorites that come to mind if I had to take five Stan matches with me to an island:


09/80 Stan vs Backlund

02/93 Stan vs Kawada

05/93 Stan vs Misawa

07/93 Stan vs Kobashi

11/93 Stan & Baba vs Misawa & Kobashi


The middle three are pretty much Usual Suspects matches. If you got 20 of us together to vote on 5 matches, those three would end up in the Top 10 easily, and be candidates for the Top 5.


The other two are less usual suspects, and just favs of mine for years.


Stan-Bob is just different from a typical Bob Match and a typical Stan Match, yet it has Stanisms and Bobisms all over the place in it. Their first MSG matches is pretty entertaining and damned ass heated. But I like the earlier one in Japan better as an all around match. Loads of fun.


The tag is a match that I've pimped for years. If you want a example of how great Misawa & Kobashi were as a team, and how great Stan was in 1993, this strikes me as the definative example. All four are busting their asses all over the place to make this a great/memorable match. If you want an example of (i) how the the All Japan fans buy into the legend of Baba, and (ii) how that old fucking goat added so much crap to his game even as his body was falling apart from the mid/late 70s on, this is the prime example as well. It's not like Baba needs to add a DDT to his moveset since he has other this in the bag... but at some point he did because it's easy to do and it's cool and the fans would like it. So having added that (and other things) to the holster over the years, he's stuck in here going 30 with a pair of hot shits and has to come up with things to fill his part of the deal and pop the fans... well, fuck it... I've added that DDT... let me drop one of those punks on there head... *fan dig it*. Then he eats the moonsault... and it's not like he's scooting along on his ass laying there like Flair does (against Mutoh in the 1995 G1) thinking the dude doesn't have enough air to get out here. Baba knows that Kobashi knows what he's doing, so he just grits his teeth and looks for the 265 solid pound of Kobashi to come splatting down on him... and the fans loose their shit.


Doesn't matter how many times I watch that match, I can pop it in again and get a big ass smile on my face. I love the Last Match Of The Year... it's a favorite, and if you put a gun to my head and told me I could only keep one match of 1993, I suspect it would be that one. But... I'd be more annoyed at not being able to ever watch Baba & Hansen vs Misawa & Kobashi again than any other match from that year. You need to have some fun with wrestling... I think we all have matches that strike us as "fun" before "great"... and that match is just fun as shit for me.



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I've always thought Hansen is the perfect "gaijin". He's big, loud, kind of an asshole, and a cowboy to boot (no pun). It makes sense that he'd be Baba and Inoki's best American opponent. He's a living embodiment of America in pro-wrestler form.

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  • 1 month later...

Hansen is so fucking great. There are soooo many great matches throughout his near 30 year career. I have a match of his on my hard drive from the late 70s against the Destroyer that is a blast. Digging through the 80s set, there are so many little gems I'm discovering like w DiBiase vs Nakano/Yatsu 7/17/87. Just an amazingly psychologically sound brawler who could mix it up on the mat, was a great seller, great at projecting "immovable giant bull", an incredible tag wrestler, had a great, well-protected finisher... Everything he did looked great/out of control, but always at the right time...could have high end epic main event style matches as good as anyone in history. I think he's the best monster heel of all time, the best gaijin of all time, and fuck it, my favorite wrestler of all time.

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