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#1 Grimmas

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Posted 11 September 2014 - 04:30 PM

Discuss here.



#2 Loss

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Posted 11 September 2014 - 09:21 PM

Hansen is another guy I'm considering for number one. I need to see a lot of his acclaimed stateside stuff, which will be a major difference maker for me. If his best US stuff (that includes Puerto Rico) is as good as Flair's best Japan stuff, comparing the two of them becomes interesting, because I think a side-by-side comparison of Hansen's output in Japan to Flair's in the US is a wash. He never had a rival like Steamboat, although Kobashi comes close if you look at their matches over time. It's the '93 match that has always gotten the most love, but they were having great matches (MOTYC level or just below) as early as 1991 and as late as 1996.



#3 elliott

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Posted 11 September 2014 - 10:46 PM

Right now I think Stan Hansen is the best wrestler of all time. There are a lot of different factors to look at when thinking of the Greatest Of All Time. I will try and look at several of these and how Stan Hansen fits and why I think he's the best ever. I will also try and address the major criticism you hear about Hansen's case for the best ever.

 

Longevity.

Based on the footage, Hansen looks like a very good worker as early as the late 70s. He was great no later than 1980 when he had great matches with Backlund and Dusty to go along with the Inoki feud. While he had been in great matches before, he had his first all time classic in September 1981 vs Andre. It was a true clash of the titans style match. The rare dream match that is even better than you imagine going into the match. Hansen's last all time classic was 12yrs later in July 1993 vs Kenta Kobashi. By this time Hansen was a grizzled 43yr old veteran going toe to toe with Kenta Kobashi at his working and athletic peak. Hansen would have some great matches after this but that was the last time Hansen had a Match of the Decade level match. I think it's fair to say 1993 was the last time you could call Hansen a great worker. I think it's probably a conservative estimate but based on what I've seen, 1980 is the earliest we could call him a great worker.

 

Peak

Peak will be difficult for Hansen because you can make different arguments for what his peak was. If someone wanted to say it was all of 1980-1993, I would listen to the argument. But let's break it down a little more...

81-83 includes good - great feuds/matches with Inoki, Backlund, Andre, Baba, Terry Funk and Austin Idol. The Terry Funk and Baba feuds are all time classics. The Backlund series was excellent. The Austin Idol series was good but you really wish it was Hansen vs Lawler instead. I am not a fan of the Inoki feud but I know some people are and it waas a major feud so I wanted to at least mention it. I will say they did have some good matches. The all time classic match with Andre also took place during this time frame.

86-89 could also be looked at as his peak. He had the underrated AWA run that included good-great matches with Martel, Bockwinkel, Slaughter, Blackwell, Hennig, and Leon White. He had a great feud with Tenryu and then formed a great short term tag team with Tenryu. He formed the very good team with Terry Gordy during this time period and he had a very good at times and disappointing at other times feud with Jumbo Tsuruta. The strength of this time period though is the all time classic feud with Carlos Colon. Arguably the best feud in history.

1993 could also be his peak if you want to limit it to just one year. Hansen was always a great hierarchical worker. He would dominate guys lower on the card and would go toe to toe with the native ace or other major stars. 1993 made for a perfect storm for a guy who understood how to work this way. By 93 Hansen was 44 and slowly heading to the end of his career. He was still great and one of the top guys in the company. But he was getting just old enough for Kawada and Kobashi to really push him to the limit. Hansen benefits here by getting to work with some of the all time greats at their athletic peak, but Hansen understands exactly how to work with them and sell for them. Identifying Hansen's peak is difficult because he had so many great feuds and matches spread out over a 13ish year period.

When discussing someone's peak, in addition to identifying when it is, the really important thing to figure out is how high they reached. Even Sid had a peak as a worker. Hansen had all time great feuds with Funk, Baba, Tenryu, Colon and Kobashi. I think The Colon, Funk and Kobashi feuds/rivalries are all contenders for the best feud in wrestling history. I think the Tenryu and Baba aren't quite on that level, but any time Hansen faced off against Baba or Tenryu felt special and epic. He had classic matches with Curt Hennig, Toshiaki Kawada, Mitsuharu Misawa, and Andre. So to the question "how high was his peak," I think it was as high as anyone's ever. I'm just not totally sure when it was :)

 

Versatility

This is probably not what people think of when they think of Stan Hansen. He's not someone who is going to wow you by working hold for hold on the mat, and then highflying and then brawling. Hansen was a great brawler. But I don't think he was exactly a one trick pony. His matches with Baba didn't look like the Colon matches which look different from the Kobashi matches. He was excellent in bloody brawls, he could go toe to toe with a fellow monster, and when AJ made the shift to the "pure wrestling all clean finishes" style Hansen was excellent as an aggressive shit kicker and wasn't what I would call a "wild out of control brawler." He could work great short 6min sprints, 12-18min matches, and 20+minute epics. Hansen worked essentially one style his whole career; "brawling," but he was able to do a lot with it and feel fresh for over a decade against extremely different opponents.

 

Playing their role/Projecting Character with ring work

Hansen was a big tough Texan who wanted to beat the shit out of you and that's what he did. He would frequently jump his opponent at the bell. He pretty much always a heel but since he was a shitkicker, he wouldn't beg off or rely a bunch on cheating. He was rough and would bring the fight to you. As he aged he was able to show more vulnerability while maintaining his tough guy aura. He was like the Clint Eastwood of All Japan. I think Hansen is the best ever at wrestling like his character.

 

Selling/Bumping

Another underrated part of Hansen's work because of his character and wrestling style. No one will confuse him with Ricky Morton, but he shouldn't have worked like that. He was actually a very good bumper for a man his size and knew when to bump. I think of his selling as "wounded dog selling." You could hurt him and get him in peril, but he is still dangerous and you're always a moment away from getting killed. The 7/29/93 match against Kobashi is the most obvious example of the wounded dog.

 

MOVEZ

I know. Who cares. But I did want to note that I can't recall Hansen ever trying to do something in the ring that didn't make sense for Stan Hansen to be doing. Even as a 40+ year old man doing topes worked. I would also like to note that he had a good moveset that he added things to over the years to help stay fresh (powerbomb, ddt, tope). He had great knee drops. And I think the lariat is the best finish in history.

 

Tag team work

While I see Hansen as the greatest of all time primarily because of his singles work, Hansen had lots of good-great tag matches as part of several memorable teams and he was always the best guy on the team (with one possible exception, the Tenryu team). He had good-great matches teaming with Brody, Dibiase, Gordy, Tenryu, Baba, Hogan, Spivey and Ace. The Tenryu team was the only time he wasn't clearly the best guy.

 

Big match feel

Hansen is a guy who excelled in major matches and had a lot of matches that still feel epic 25-30years later. Hansen vs Andre from 9/81 feels like the biggest match ever. His matches against Funk, Baba, Colon, and Tenryu always felt major. The Vader eye loss match has an epic feel. The atmosphere for the Backlund MSG matches is insane. Memorable Opponents/Feuds/Matches Hansen has a laundry list of great opponents.

All time classic feuds - vs Terry Funk, Carlos Colon, Kenta Kobashi. I would call these contenders for greatest series in wrestling history.

Very Good-Great feuds - vs Backlund, Giant Baba, Tenryu, Rick Martel, Jumbo Tsuruta, Misawa, Kawada, Slaughter

Other feuds worth watching - vs Inoki, Austin Idol, Lex Luger Great one time opponent/not really a feud - vs Dusty, Andre, Hennig, Bockwinkel, Jerry Blackwell, Vader, and Hulk Hogan.

 

If you would like 10 matches to watch (not ranked);

1. vs Andre 9/81

2. vs Giant Baba 2/4/82 (first match)

3. vs Terry Funk 4/14/83

4. vs Carlos Colon bull rope

5. vs Carlos Colon Cage

6. vs Tenryu 7/27/88

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

8. w/ Tenryu vs Jumbo/Yatsu 12/9/89

9. vs Kawada 2/28/93

10. vs Kobashi 7/27/93

 

Work Outside Japan

The big criticism that typically comes up with Hansen's greatest of all time candidacy is that he was only great in Japan. This is definitely not true. He had one of the best feuds in history against Carlos Colon in 86/87. He had the terrific MSG series in 81 against Backlund. The Austin Idol series in Memphis was good but you really wish he had a run against Lawler. In the AWA he had very good-great matches with Martel, Sarge, Hennig, Bockwinkel and Blackwell. There's also the Leon White match which I don't love but isn't bad. Hansen also has the WCW run with a good series against Lex Luger. The majority of great Hansen matches are from Japan. But that's obvious. He spent the majority of his career there. But he didn't just do ok outside of Japan. He had a lot of very good matches, some great, and he had arguably the best series of his entire career.

 

Final Thoughts

I think Stan Hansen is the greatest wrestler of all time. He was really great for a  really long time. He peaked as high as anyone who ever worked. His low point came after his mid 40s when his body finally wore down. He had classic feuds and matches with a variety of opponents over a 13year period in WWWF, NJ, AJ, Memphis, AWA, and Puerto Rico. He is one of the best ever, if not the best ever, at playing his role and working in a way that makes sense for his character. Not every match was an all time classic and not every match was totally different. However he had great matches throughout his career with radically different oppnents over a long time.



#4 elliott

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Posted 11 September 2014 - 10:47 PM

Wow that did not include the paragraph breaks I made at all.

#5 BigBadMick

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 10:23 AM

That's ok - it's a great read!



#6 Grimmas

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 10:26 AM

A great read and someone I am considering for number 1.



#7 WingedEagle

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 11:40 AM

Loss & Elliot hit on it, but US & Puerto Rico will determine just how high Hansen comes in as I'm more than familiar with everything he's done in Japan, but the rest of his work is more of a blind spot.



#8 soup23

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 11:48 AM

Ditto the post for Elliott.

 

Hansen is also flirting with my #1. I love the versatility Hansen shows throughout his career. You look at him with his bull rope and spitting tobacco and think of him as a simpleton, no nonsense worker. However, a lot of care and thought was clearly put into his matches at times. We don't have the benefit of many Funk NWA title defenses but that is something I would like to see and a reason I will put Hansen above Funk.

 

Need Hansen to wrestle competitive series of matches with Inoki: Check

Need Hansen to be a bullish heel challenging Bruno and having some fun brawls with Backlund: Check

Need Hansen to lead a green as fuck Vader to a great, story oriented featured match in AWA: Check

Need Hansen play top gaijin spoiler to the aces of the All Japan promotion (Jumbo & Misawa): Check

Need Hansen to have spectacle matches that feel like they belong in a comic book: Check (Vs. Andre)

Need Hansen to show vulnerability by getting his ribs worked over: Check

 

I don't even know what I would put forth as Hansen's best match or feud, he has a lot of contenders. I could possibly see his biggest weakness is that times he had some disappointing matches (some of the Jumbo ones, 3/95 vs. Kawada) but that seems really minscule and nit - picky and applies to everyone else.



#9 elliott

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 02:37 PM

I'm on my phone and can't seem to edit that huge post but I will. Thanks for reading guys! Soup touched on something I didn't really talk about but I think is a great point; Hansen put a lot of care and thought into his matches considering he is usually described as a wild out of control brawler. I think he's definitely "wild" and a brawler but watching the matches he looks very much in control (this POV is based more on his Japan work, in US and PR he's more out of control). Hansen wanted to push his opponents into trying to fight him instead of wrestle him because Hansen will always have the advantage in a fight. There's probably a better comparison to sports but I look at him as a Dennis Rodman type agitator. He gets in your head and pushes and pushes until you're not playing your game, you're playing his game and by then you're already done. You'll have more success if you keep your composure and don't let him push you out of your comfort zone and into his. Stan Hansen the wrestler seems to prefer getting punched and kicked in the face to getting put in a hammerlock.

#10 Matt D

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 02:39 PM

Hansen is a guy I need a primer for.

#11 moazzam23

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 03:12 PM

Hansen is a guy I need a primer for.

 

The Andre match in New Japan and then his matches with Terry Funk in All Japan are probably a good starting point. There's one Hansen/Funk match from AJ that's probably my favorite brawl of all time.



#12 WingedEagle

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 03:16 PM

That's probably 4/14/83. I agree those are top notch, but check out the title matches vs. Baba from that era as well.  Totally different and so much better than I would've expected going in.  Baba wasn't exactly power or speed personified at that point, but Hansen made him look like a world beater.  Some of my favorites from early 80s AJ.



#13 soup23

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 03:49 PM

vs. Andre - NJPW 9/23/1981

 

vs. Funk - AJPW 4/14/83

 

vs. Jumbo - AJPW 10/21/86

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuxzWyYhveY

 

vs. Carlos Colon - 1986

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LK7icA1yVw

 

vs. Tenryu - 7/27/88

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2n_O1EMnAg

 

w/ Tenryu vs. Jumbo/Yatsu - 12/6/89

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFzUH_B35mA

 

vs. Kobashi 9/4/91

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dT9s9oAql9Q

 

vs. Misawa 3/8/92

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLk4yc7xwa8

 

vs. Kawada 4/6/92

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFY3o3AOGEI

 

vs. Taue 4/11/94

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VImAOJ75wiw

 

Ten matches, all I would classify as very good at least. Some our the best matches he had vs. an opponent IMO (Jumbo, Funk) and others are just wetting the appetite for a great feud you can seek out more of.



#14 PeteF3

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 03:51 PM

For the record, if you right-click this page and hit "View Source," elliott's post shows up with the proper paragraph breaks.



#15 Childs

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 03:58 PM

Watch the Inoki matches to see him work a bit more technical style, all the Colon matches from Puerto Rico to see him build a feud and bump around for the local hero, the singles matches with the AJPW next generation--especially Kawada and Kobashi--to see him adapt to a higher work rate. You've seen the AWA stuff, right?

 

He's my working No. 1--some of the nastiest offense ever and he didn't let it stagnate as he got older, historically great brawler who could also slow it down, attentive seller, projected his character into his work as well as anyone, created a huge body of great matches, adapted to different settings and vastly different main event opponents. Nobody has gotten me fired up to watch wrestling more often than Stan Hansen.



#16 Timbo Slice

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Posted 14 September 2014 - 02:33 PM

Easy Top 10, probably Top 5 with consideration for #1. Might have been the best wrestler on the planet in 1993, which I consider the greatest year in pro wrestling history.



#17 dawho5

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Posted 14 September 2014 - 08:34 PM

Here's my list of 90s All Japan matches that I enjoyed featuring Stan Hansen:

 

Misawa vs. Hansen 7/27/90
Misawa/Kawada vs. Hansen/Spivey 11/16/91
Hansen vs. Taue 7/31/92
Hansen vs. Misawa 8/22/92
Hansen vs. Kobashi 4/16/93 - handheld, must see
Hansen vs. Kobashi 4/10/94
Hansen vs. Taue 4/11/94
Hansen vs. Williams 4/14/94
Hansen vs. Akiyama 9/24/94
Holy Demon Army vs. Hansen/Baba 12/17/94
Kobashi/Hansen/Akiyama vs. Kawada/Ace/Omori 4/15/95
Hansen/Taue vs. Burning 12/3/99 - Hansen and Taue as huge babyfaces, love it
Hansen/Kea vs. Kawada/Tenryu 7/23/00 - Hansen again as a babyface



#18 Shining Wiz

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Posted 14 September 2014 - 08:40 PM

Obviously not of the same quality as a lot of what is already listed, and I haven't gone back and watched them recently, but Hansen had a really good series over the US title with Luger in about 91 or so. You would expect Hansen's style to not work well with Luger, at least I wouldn't have, but Hansen made it work. Makes for a good reference for some US action to compliment the Japanese.

#19 dawho5

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Posted 14 September 2014 - 08:46 PM

That's part of what made Hansen great.  He made his style work with whoever he was in the ring with.  For being so simple and direct, Hansen really adapted well to most opponents.



#20 NintendoLogic

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Posted 14 September 2014 - 09:32 PM

Here's my list of 90s All Japan matches that I enjoyed featuring Stan Hansen:

 

Misawa vs. Hansen 7/27/90
Misawa/Kawada vs. Hansen/Spivey 11/16/91
Hansen vs. Taue 7/31/92
Hansen vs. Misawa 8/22/92
Hansen vs. Kobashi 4/16/93 - handheld, must see
Hansen vs. Kobashi 4/10/94
Hansen vs. Taue 4/11/94
Hansen vs. Williams 4/14/94
Hansen vs. Akiyama 9/24/94
Holy Demon Army vs. Hansen/Baba 12/17/94
Kobashi/Hansen/Akiyama vs. Kawada/Ace/Omori 4/15/95
Hansen/Taue vs. Burning 12/3/99 - Hansen and Taue as huge babyfaces, love it
Hansen/Kea vs. Kawada/Tenryu 7/23/00 - Hansen again as a babyface

 

Have you not seen 2/28/93 vs. Kawada or 7/29/93 vs. Kobashi? I consider those to be the two best matches of his career.






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