|Birth name||John Stanley Hansen II|
|Ring name(s)||Stan Hansen|
|Billed height||6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)|
|Billed weight||321 lb (146 kg; 22.9 st)|
August 29, 1949 |
Knox City, Texas
|Billed from||Borger, Texas|
|Trained by||Dory Funk
Dory Funk, Jr.
|Debut||January 1, 1973|
|Retired||January 28, 2001|
John Stanley Hansen II (born August 29, 1949) is an American former professional wrestler, best known under his ring name Stan Hansen. Hansen is renowned for his stiff wrestling style, which he attributes to his poor eyesight. He is also known for his gimmick of a loud, violent cowboy who wanted to fight everybody, which he further emphasized by appearing in interviews with a cowboy hat, leather vest and bullrope while often chewing on tobacco. Considered to be among the most successful and popular gaijins in professional wrestling history, Hansen became more well known and revered in Japan than in his native United States. Despite this, Hansen still found championship success in both countries, as he became a six-time world champion upon winning the AWA World Heavyweight Championship once, the CWA International Heavyweight Championship once and the AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship four times.
Professional wrestling career
After playing college football as a part of the West Texas State Buffaloes, Hansen made his professional wrestling debut in 1973. Initially taking up wrestling as a part-time job while trying out for the Detroit Wheels, Hansen began wrestling full-time when the team folded. In 1975, Hansen first teamed with future partner Frank Goodish, who later adopted the ring name Bruiser Brody, while competing in Leroy McGuirk's Tri-State territory. One year later, Hansen made his debut for the World Wide Wrestling Federation and only two months after he began competing for the company, he began feuding with Heavyweight Champion Bruno Sammartino over the title. During a title match, Hansen broke Sammartino's neck while they were wrestling and it was from this incident that both Hansen and promoters claimed that Sammartino's injury came about from the enormous power for his lariat. However, a botched powerslam is what actually caused Sammartino's injury. After Sammartino recovered, Hansen faced him for the WWWF Heavyweight Title once again, but was unsuccessful in winning it and left the promotion soon after.
Hansen also competed in the American Wrestling Association from 1985 to 1986, and won the World Heavyweight Championship on December 29, 1985, from Rick Martel. On June 29, 1986, he no-showed a title defense against the number one contender Nick Bockwinkel due to disagreements with management, forcing the AWA to default the title to Bockwinkel. Rumors suggest that Hansen was actually in the building that evening and had been informed by AWA promoter Verne Gagne of the pending loss to Bockwinkel. Hansen allegedly called All Japan Pro Wrestling president Giant Baba to ask if losing the championship was acceptable, but Baba had already lined up challengers for Hansen and did not permit Hansen to drop the championship. At the time, Hansen was already in a feud with Verne's son Greg, in which Hansen as determined to hog-tie Greg and "make him squeal like a pig." Eventually, Hansen was too much for Gagne, and on an episode of All-Star Wrestling, Hansen hog-tied Greg and proceeded to make him squeal in front of his fans, friends, and family. As a result, Hansen refused to drop the title to Bockwinkel and was stripped of the championship; Bockwinkel was given one of the tag team belts, which was then billed as the AWA World Heavyweight Championship due to Hansen still possessing the true title belt. Hansen immediately returned to Japan and defended the AWA World Heavyweight Championship, despite being stripped of it. The AWA threatened legal action if Hansen continued to carry the belt and refer to himself as the organization's champion, so Hansen responded by running over the belt with his truck and mailing it back with the mud tracks still on it upon returning to the United States. This chain of events was reviewed in an interview with Hansen at an NWA Legends convention, in which he expressed regret over the way he handled the situation and ultimately complimented Gagne.
He also competed in New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he feuded with promotional ace Antonio Inoki and teamed with Hulk Hogan and Dick Murdoch. Hansen temporarily returned there in 1990 for the first time in nine years and formed a tag team with Riki Chōshū called The Lariat Combo due to both using a lariat as their finisher. Hansen's lariat became a such respected finisher in Japan that is became common for commentators to yell "lariato" hysterically when he performed the maneuver.
In 1981, Hansen abruptly left NJPW to join All Japan Pro Wrestling, where he would remain until his retirement. While in AJPW, Hansen would become the only man to pin Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba in championship singles matches. He continued wrestling from 1982 to 1999 in World's Strongest Tag Determination League. He wrestled primarily in tag matches, where he formed many teams with Bruiser Brody, Terry Gordy, Ted DiBiase, Genichiro Tenryu, Dan Spivey, Bobby Duncum, Jr., and Big Van Vader. Hansen also engaged in a renowned brawl with André the Giant in Japan.
In addition to championship matches, Hansen also competed in other high-profile matches. On April 13, 1990, the World Wrestling Federation and AJPW held a supershow called Wrestling Summit at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, which saw Hansen lose to Hulk Hogan in the main event. At the NJPW versus AJPW Tokyo Dome show on February 10, 1992, Hansen competed in another notable match as he represented AJPW against NJPW representative Big Van Vader. This particular match became renowned for its stiffness, as Hansen and Vader repeatedly exchanged blows until Hansen unintentionally poked Vader's right eye with his thumb, which caused the eye to pop out of its socket. After removing his mask, pushing the eye back into its socket and holding it in place with his eyelid, Vader continued wrestling Hansen until the match was rendered a no contest. As a result of the injury, Vader required a metal plate to be surgically placed under his eye.
World Championship Wrestling, return to Japan and retirement
In 1990, Hansen briefly competed in World Championship Wrestling, feuding with Lex Luger over the United States Heavyweight Championship while it was still under the National Wrestling Alliance. On October 27 at Halloween Havoc, Hansen defeated Luger to win the title, ending Luger's record-setting reign at 523 days in the process. On December 16 at Starrcade, Hansen lost the title back to Luger in a bullrope match. Following the title loss, Hansen left the promotion for All Japan Pro Wrestling in 1991 after a disagreement over an idea to group him with The Desperados, a trio of bumbling cowboys looking for Hansen through a series of vignettes. As a result of his departure, The Desperados' angle was dropped and they were instead relegated to being jobbers.
Upon his return to AJPW, Hansen began a major feud with Mitsuharu Misawa, during which time they traded the Triple Crown Championship between one another. Following Giant Baba's death, Misawa became the new booker and quickly began de-emphasizing Hansen and other foreign talent, in favor of new native recruits such as Takao Ōmori and Yoshihiro Takayama. In 2000, Misawa and all but two natives defected from the promotion and formed Pro Wrestling Noah, although Hansen chose to remain loyal to AJPW instead of joining the talent exodus. Despite remaining with AJPW, Hansen's ongoing lumbago at the time began to worsen, which ultimately lead him to wrestle his final match on October 28, 2000 as part of a tournament for the vacant Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship. After losing his final match to Genichiro Tenryu, who went on to win the tournament and the title, Hansen later announced his retirement on January 28, 2001.
Soon after retiring, Hansen successfully underwent surgery on his back and knees, the latter of which were both replaced. After recovering, he became the commissioner of AJPW's Pacific Wrestling Federation championship governing body, which saw him appear during Triple Crown and Double Cup matches to issue proclamations of the matches. In July 2007, Hansen voluntarily resigned from the position, with Hiroshi Hase replacing him.
Hansen is married and has two sons. His older son, Shaver (born December 19, 1987), played baseball at Baylor University before being drafted by the Seattle Mariners as the second pick in the sixth round of the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft. His younger son, Samuel (born February 21, 1991), is also a baseball player and plays for the University of Texas at Arlington.
- The Last Outlaw (2012)
- Signature moves
Championships and accomplishments
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
- AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship (4 times)
- AJPW Unified World Tag Team Championship (8 times) – with Terry Gordy (2), Genichiro Tenryu (3), Dan Spivey (1), Ted DiBiase (1) and Gary Albright (1)
- NWA International Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- NWA International Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Ron Bass
- NWA United National Championship (1 time)
- PWF World Heavyweight Championship (4 times)
- PWF World Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with Bruiser Brody (1), Ted DiBiase (2) and Austin Idol (1)
- Champion Carnival (1992, 1993)
- World's Strongest Tag Determination League (1983) – with Bruiser Brody
- World's Strongest Tag Determination League (1985) – with Ted DiBiase
- World's Strongest Tag Determination League (1988) – with Terry Gordy
- World's Strongest Tag Determination League (1989) – with Genichiro Tenryu
- January 2 Korakuen Hall Heavyweight Battle Royal (1994)
- Georgia Championship Wrestling
- Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling / World Championship Wrestling
- NWA Tri-State
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Tokyo Sports
- Best Bout Award (1992) vs. Toshiaki Kawada on June 5
- Best Tag Team Award (1998) with Vader
- Lifetime Achievement Award (2000)
- Match of the Year Award (1982) vs. Giant Baba on February 4
- Match of the Year Award (1988) vs. Genichiro Tenryu on July 27
- Outstanding Foreigner Award (1982)
- Popularity Award (1980)
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
- 5 Star Match (1984) with Bruiser Brody vs. Dory and Terry Funk on December 8
- 5 Star Match (1988) with Terry Gordy vs. Genichiro Tenryu and Toshiaki Kawada on December 16
- 5 Star Match (1993) vs. Kenta Kobashi on July 29
- Best Brawler (1985, 1990)
- Tag Team of the Year (1982) with Ole Anderson
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)
1Hansen won the championship after Ted Turner purchased Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling from Jim Crockett, Jr. and renamed the promotion World Championship Wrestling. Hansen's reign was also prior to the championship being renamed the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship.
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