WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2016: Stan Hansen

stan-hansen

Stan Hansen

Class of 2016

The Bad Man from Borger TX; Biggest American Star in History of Japan

Stan_Hansen

Hall of Fame Rating

7.5 out of 10

Significant

If there is a radar that significant wrestlers of yesteryear fly under, its captain is this man, Stan “The Lariat” Hansen. Hansen like fellow inductees The Fabulous Freebirds has been on the list of “pending” inductees for years. Each time WWE visited Texas for Wrestlemania or inducted a shallow “superstar”, die-hards (including myself) have asked: “Where the hell is Stan Hansen!?”

In terms of the 2016 class, the term mixed bag aptly describes it. On one hand, Hansen, Sting and the Freebirds are welcome and deserving inductions. On the other hand, the offensive stereotype the Godfather and 2016’s “who the fuck are you” inductee Jackie Moore are also going in. And although the average normal fan might know the Godfather more than Hansen, there is no comparison in the significance of these men to the industry as a whole.

It’s very simple. Stan Hansen is the man. He lived that. His career showcased that and his calm kind demeanor today encapsulates why we are today singing his praises.

For anyone too young to understand who Stan Hansen really was and what he accomplished, take a look at this.

Hansen seen here in the 1980s was not only a gritty realized “person” of a character, frightening children and impressing fans, he was doing it before it was cool. (lets say the mid 90s)

Hansen was a product of his home state. The bad man from Borger, Texas was trained by wild Texan patriarchs, the Funks and upon his debut in 1972, hit the ground running.

Within two years of his debut, he was headlining Madison Square Garden as a rival for then champions Pedro Morales and as the dastardly, dangerous and believable counter to Bruno Sammartino.

Hansen participated in the territory system we all hear about lovingly from old time wrestlers, and unlike even some of the greatest of the day, Stan the man, rocked wherever he went.

It is a obvious struggle to get over in different parts of the country, just ask Roman Reigns:

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AKA Big Cities Hate Me Guy Number 686

 

Hansen did it with grit, and determination. He and fellow Texan Bruiser Brody represented a generation of journeymen, whose strengths in speech, character and toughness outweighed any negatives in “theatrical” wrestling they may have missed.

In the US, Hansen had one of the WWWF biggest late 70s feuds where he actually broke Bruno Sammartino’s neck. (Kayfabe, this was due to his dread lariat, while in reality a botched bodyslam and Bruno’s age led to the injury) The cage match rematch at Shea Stadium between the two men solidified Stan Hansen as a man to watch.

This is where Hansen’s career gets unique. It was and still is common for wrestlers to do tours of Japan. Dynamite Kid’s book Pure Dynamite, (which you should read btw) showcases his constant tours of Japan and the love of both wrestling in general (Japanese fans watch respectfully instead of cheering like maniacs) and of a real fight.

Hansen’s career in Japan is one of note for its sheer longevity. He is considered to be the most successful gaijin (term meaning forienger) in the history of modern Japanese wrestling. And he feuded with all the big names, including victories over home country heroes like Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba.

Whether it was winning the NJPW tag belts with Bruiser Brody or harassing the competition, Hansen brought it eveery night, scaring the bejesus out of the normally quiet and demure Japanese crowd. Oh and here he is body-slamming Andre the Giant.

His inductor this year is one of his greatest rivals, fellow “pending” induction and all around hoss, Big Van Vader. Vader, in a tumultuous brawl with Hansen, literally had his eye pop out of the socket. Stan was always stiff (a word for hard punches) which he attributed to bad eye sight. Whoops!

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Japan aside, Stan Hansen also had two memorable runs in the US during the mid to late 80s and early 90s.

During its death throws, AWA tried anything to make itself into competition for the dominating WWF. In 1986, they took their championship of the completely passable (and also “pending” inductee) Rick Martel to give Stan Hansen a try as their main bad guy champion, something which had worked for them for most of their term (see Nick Bockwinkel). Unfortunately for Verne Gagne, Stan Hansen was less then cooperative and still heavily involved in Japan when he won the AWA Belt.

After Giant Baba, Hansen’s then Japanese booker said no to Stan losing the AWA belt, (after advertising that it would be defended in Japan), Hansen did what he did best, and said to Verne Gagne. “No, Fuck you”.

Verne eventually did get back the AWA belt from Hansen in the mail, although it was a little worse for wear as Hansen had run over the championship with his truck before returning.

Hansen also had a memorable and short term in WCW, where he defeated long running US Champion Lex Luger in a surprise victory. After losing the belt back to Luger two months later, he left in another “No, Fuck You” moment when he told WCW officials under no circumstance would he be involved with a trio of bumbling cowboy characters named the Desperados. Hansen was tough, a tough Texan and not a joke.

While Stan Hansen retired in 2001, after a 25+ year career, he will always be remembered fondly in Japanese culture. This induction means he will hopefully also be remembered by the US fans as one of the original and best Texas Cowboys in wrestling history.

 

Why 2016?

The Bad Man from Borger Texas. WWE does like to bring alive wrestlers from the locations they visit. Also, Hansen is on good terms with the WWE, inducting Antonio Inoki in 2010 and appearing in many interviews for WWE DVD releases.

Plus he kinda plays the part of international inductee as well as most of his career was in Japan. The biggest gaijin indeed.

Opens Door For?

Vader. I think Vader will go in by 2018.

Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.

Hansen might defend his ring in Japan and send back to WWE with tire tracks

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WWE Hall of Fame 2016 Predicitions

2015 has  been a real up and down year for wrestling. NXT is blossoming while WWE pretends its biggest star in history doesn’t exist. We’ve lost Hall of Famers like Roddy Piper, Verne Gagne and Dusty Rhodes meanwhile Icons like Undertaker, Sting and The Dudley Boyz are back.

The WWE Hall of Fame in 2015 was no different. Macho Man Randy Savage finally joined the Halls!….after he died. Larry Zbyzsko wrote an amazing speech…which he forgot. Kevin Nash headlined….wait their is no positive there.

2015 suffered because of its size. It had 9 inductees. That’s two headliners, a woman, a celebrity, a foreign act, a tag team, an 70s wrestler, The Warrior Award and Rikishi.

While I love Zbyzsko, Medusa and Fujinamani deservedly going in, The Bushwhackers, Rikishi and even our celebrity inductee were lackluster at best (granted Luke and Butch were great comic relief)

2016 will be in Dallas, Texas. If one thing came out of 2015’s class it is that we are guaranteed a smaller class of likely no more than 6 and the Warrior Award, 6 total or 6 without the Warrior Award (aka the award which can only now go to dead children)

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With all that in mind. I have broken down my predictions for the WWE Class of 2016. We start with an ICON!

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Sting

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Many might be expecting the Undertaker here in this slot. Last year, I predicted that Undertaker would headline the Class of 2015.  I was dead wrong, pun intended. Taker did not retire as expected, he appeared at Wrestlemania 31 and as of this writing also wrestled Summerslam. Now, by no means is the actually 50 year old “dead man” returning full time. He’s not. He did Vince a favor. A favor to come in and main event Summerslam to give it the big time feel and extra WWE Network buys.

Well what does all this have to do with Sting? Well, the WWE simply doesn’t need Sting as much. And although he is now in WWE World Heavyweight Championship program, even if he beats Rollins, it will be short (and cashed in upon from Sheamus) Sting is the pinnacle of part time. Most of his time is spent doing marketing and being an ambassador for the company. He can do that as a WWE Hall of Famer.

I expect Sting to retire at Wrestlemania 32 (he is 56 years old as of this writing). He will not face Taker, instead he will fight and likely lose to an up and coming talent who can carry him (Looking at you Cesaro). End career. Welcome to the Hall of Fame.

Chances of Induction: 7 out of 10

Reason it Won’t Happen: Summerslam forces Taker to retire. Or WWE does induct him while still active. (NOT A GOOD IDEA)

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Fabulous Freebirds

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This omission has been one of the biggest head scratchers since 2009 (with the induction of the Von Erichs). Why are the Fabulous Freebirds not in the WWE Hall of Fame? They were one of the most important tag teams in the history of wrestling. Their feud with the Von Erichs was one of the hottest feuds in the country from 1982-1985. These men were territory specialists. They succeeded almost everywhere they went (excluding the WWF where they were made faces for no reason and left after a month). They could have easier fit in classes in Atlanta (2011), New Orleans (2014) and California (2015). The Freebirds are that prolific.

Michael PS Hayes has worked with the WWE for 15-20 years. He’s bought in to the WWE way of doing things, important to the company and an obvious choice.  Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts are both deceased, so expect Jimmy Garvin (Freedbird circa WCW) to join as a member as well.

Most importantly, this years Hall of Fame is happening in Dallas. Dallas was one of the major cities in WCCW, where arguably the Freebirds had their greatest success.

Chances of Induction: 9 out of 10

Reasons not to induct: Confederate Flag was their costumes. Racism of Hayes. I mean he is most defiantly a racist.

http://www.tmz.com/2008/04/23/wwe-writer-allegedly-dishes-racist-smackdown/

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Stan Hansen

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Stan Hansen is one of those talents who someday will make the WWE Hall of Fame. He is an obvious inductee. He was a huge talent, who fought for every major promotion (including WWWF, breaking Bruno’s neck)

In 2010, WWE brought Hansen in to induct Antonio Inoki. This was the last piece of the puzzle, opening the door for his inclusion. He, like Future Hall of Famer, Vader were the epitome of  American wrestler success in Japan. WWE has been continuing to globalize their brand, and with the hiring of KENTA, and Fujinami joining last year, Hansen is a perfect choice. He’s also Texan, wears a cowboy hat and is again…TEXAN.

Chances of induction 6 out of 10

Reasons Not to Induct: WWE goes with JBL instead. WWE really likes inducting their own. And with the inclusion of our next prediction, Hansen’s Japanese ties are perhaps, less important.

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Jushin Thunder Liger

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For the first time in history, Jushin Liger appeared on WWE television in a WWE ring. At NXT Takeover August 22nd, Liger, aged 50, did a very good job convincing us that he still “Got It”. 50, while old for a WWE wrestler (not named Sting or Undertaker) is old hat in Japan. Wrestlers, especially large talents like Liger, are known to wrestle well into their 60s in limited role. (Like Ric Flair with less hard living and chops)

Liger is the perfect candidate for a international induction. He wrestled for quite a bit of time for WCW, is a great contact to have to be an ambassador (like Tatsumi Fujinami is currently) and will help build WWE’s brand in Japan. Win win on all sides.

Liger’s appearance (and just recently announced future appearances)  are  too random without the Hall of Fame attached. While its possibly Hansen or Liger, it could still be both.

Chances of induction: 7 out of 10

Reasons Not Too induct: Doesn’t speak English. Perhaps WWE wants to a bigger foreign name.

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Jacqueline Moore

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When doing these lists, I always have to remember two things.  There will always be a woman and likely always be a minority. WWE does not like to have 6-9 white guys standing on stage.

They’d much rather have 6-9 white guys,  AND one woman AND one minority

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See Much Better

Jackie Moore or Jacquiline fits the mold of the next women’s inductee. They’ve done the biggest names in Women’s wrestling in the last 20 years (Western audiences only). 2015 gave us Alundra Blayze in a welcomed surprise move.. The next women’s champion after Blayze (and the deactivation in 95, reactivation in 98) was Jackie Moore.

Many forget that she beat Sable to claim the newly rechristened WWE Women’s Championship. Technically, she is the first women’s champion of modern Women/DIVA wrestling.

Plus she is from Dallas Texas. Fits the bill, makes all the sense.

Chances of Induction: 6 out of 10

Reasons Not to Do Induction: Skip ahead of her and go right to Sable. Seriously, Sable should be in the WWE Hall of Fame. She is legit married to Brock Lesnar as well. Why hasn’t that happened already?

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Celebrity Bullshit

Anyone who has visited here at all knows I hate the celebrity inductee. Why? Because it is unnecessary. It is rewarding a celebrity for making a paid special appearance in a product which most of them do not care about.

Champions of the sport and the entertainment in wrestling are welcome.

Mr. T, Mike Tyson and Andy Kaufman belong in the Hall (although Kaufman isn’t in) , but Pete Rose, Donald Trump and Arnold belong no where near a wrestling Hall of Fame.

Bullshit like Jeremy Piven said above (SUMMERFEST!)  is more the norm that the exception. And even when a fan of the product comes along, they are given heinous dialogue and look strange and out of place. Jon Stewart was so weird at Summerslam…awkward and scripted.

Regardless of what I say, a celebrity  inductee will  join the Hallowed Halls currently holding the greats, like Drew Carey and William Perry, both of whom were obviously NOT getting a paycheck/promoting some stupid comedy show which lasted three months.

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Who Would I Accept?

Cyndi Lauper

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Lauper had a great impact on WWE. Like MR. T, her presense helped to legitimize the WWF in 1985. The rockin wrestling stuff was great,

Her return in 2011 was to say the least absurdly awkward. It be a short speech and a deserving nod.

Who is Likely to Get it?

William Shatner, Shaq, Pamela Anderson ANYONE!!!!

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Chances of Lauper, Muhammed Ali or Andy Kaufman: 0 out of 10

Chances of Bullshit: 10 out of 10

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Final Thoughts

As a PS, there are two other names I would not be surprised to see in 2016. The first is Raw’s third announcer JBL, mentioned above. The second would be more of a surprise. I am talking about Owen Hart. You see, a DVD is coming out about Owen’s career, without Owen’s wife permission. Because the lawsuit is settled….and WWE can legally do that….and Bret Hart wanted it and wants an induction….and they just inducted Macho Man without the involvement or support of his widow…and Owen Hart might be in the video game.

I don’t feel confident quite yet that Owen will go in, but IF we see him in WWE 2k16, I will amend my list and add “The King of Harts” Owen Hart.

Here’s hoping.

Future WWE Hall of Famer: Vader

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Vader

Midcard Inductee

Man They Called, Multi time Champion

VaderWCW

Monsters are an important element of professional wrestling and always be. Today we witness Mark Henry, Big Show and even Ryback be credible. They are respected by the fans, but more importantly, they are believable in their role. The specifics of their role is what can make a monster great.

A monster generally should be a heel (Ryback & Warrior are exceptions) and must win. They have to win a lot. Back in the territory systems, monster heels like Killer Kowalski or Ox Baker would come in, dominate the mid level heels, challenge the champ and lose. They would then disappear. This format ended with the general end of the territories.

AWA, WCCW, Mid-South all agree!

AWA, WCCW, Mid-South all agree!

The Man They Call Vader fit into this mold, but came from the time when territories were dying. He did participate in the AWA under a less than stellar moniker, Leon “The Baby Bull” White

After his stint as a small cow, White went to New Japan Pro Wrestling where he honed his craft and became Big Van Vader. His size, strength and brute force impressed the Japanese, but it was his quickness and agility which put him above the rest of “big men” of the time. And he played the imposing man to a tee.

During his battles with Stan Hansen and Mick Foley, Vader was dominant and agreesive. It was in Japan that Vader would start to get a reputation for being stiff with other wrestlers. And no one more than Mick Foley understands what it was like to be in the ring with Vader. He lost an ear in the ring with this man.

During his time in Japan, WCW came a knocking and Vader joined to the utter domination of the wrestlers there. Vader beat Ric Flair, Vader beat Sting, Vader beat Lex Luger. WCW pushed the monster Vader properly as a monster. He is after all a 3 time WCW Heavyweight Champion.

In fact, Vader was one of the first big men wrestlers to consistently hold the title for a major company. Big Show’s reigns and the belief that a belt should go on a giant for an extended period of time basically started with Vader.

Vader had much success (and helped to build Ron Simmons) until Hulk Hogan came. Hogan proceeded in 1995 to squash Vader as he would have the One Man Gang or Big Bossman in WWF. Vader lost all credibility and was gone very shortly. By the by, if you think Super Cena is bad, the original was Super Hogan.

This aside, Vader entered in the WWF with a storm. He looked dangerous, he looked vicious and was supposed to win the WWF Championship at Summerslam 1996.\

Thanks to the shit head whose name is Shawn Michaels, this never occurred. Michaels claimed Vader was too stiff and never wanted to work with him again. Instead we got semi-monster Psycho Sid as a two time champion for no real reason. Seriously, Shawn Michaels needs to be criticized more for how much he fucked up WWF 1995-1996 with his Kliq garbage. He never will, but should.

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Back to Vader. Vader feuded with the Undertaker, but generally had an unsuccessful WWF run through 1997-1998 and eventually left at the start of the Attitude Era.

Although his WWF career was not stellar, Vader will always be remembered for his status as a real monster heel. Just as Mark Henry, Bruiser Brody and Demolition will all someday be in the Hall, so will the Man We Call Vader.

Will the WWE Do It?

Yes. Vader is on good terms with the organization as seen by his enjoyable performance destroying Heath Slater on Raw last year.

Vader is also well liked. WWE likes to be able to bring back well liked superstars ad nauseum (Why Duggan, Rhodes, Slaughter and Dibiase appear like 4 times a year) Vader easily could be added to the list and to do so, a Hall of Fame induction would be needed.

Plus he is the perfect type of candidate. He easily can be added to the end of any class (even 2013) and no one would ever bat an eye at his credibility.

When will it happen?

Vader is from the Rocky Mountains, where the WWE will never do Wrestlemania (unless they finally agree on a covered stadium) As long as he remains healthy, this will happen within the next 6 years.

If he dies before induction, it will definitely hold up the induction as it always does (Rick Rude, British Bulldog)

Good Location

Colorado, but also neighboring California.

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Reasons Not to DO It?

Not a great WWF run. Vader looks mean. Scary to kids.

You trust that smile?

Come here kids!