Although this has been well known for some time and reported in WWE’s WrestleMania magazine, it will be announced on Raw tonight that Stan Hansen will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year.
WWE used Tokyo Sports, a major daily sports newspaper in Japan, to break the story, since Hansen is best known in Japan as probably the biggest American star in that country of the last 40 years.
The WWE later put the story up on their web site.
Hansen was a college football star at West Texas State University, which produced a number of future wrestling superstars including Dory & Terry Funk, Bruiser Brody, Dusty Rhodes, Bobby Duncum, Tully Blanchard, Ted DiBiase and Tito Santana.
Hansen didn’t make an NFL roster but did play pro football with the Detroit Wheels of the World Football League with Brody. The two would go onto to becoming what is now considered the legendary tag team of Japan, as the two main evented for several years in All Japan and never lost one match via pinfall.
Hansen’s original career break came in a 1976 program with Bruno Sammartino. He accidentally dropped Sammartino on his head on a bodyslam, which broke Samamrtino’s neck. Sammartino returned far earlier than he should have too save a Shea Stadium show that was part of the Antonio Inoki vs. Muhammad Ali closed-circuit, and drew 32,000 fans for the rematch.
The success made Hansen a major star, and he for years divided his time between New Japan Pro Wrestling and Georgia Championship Wrestling. He had a second WWF run against champion Bob Backlund, and once beat Antonio Inoki for the NWF title. He also had what is generally considered the greatest match in the career of Andre the Giant in New Japan.
Giant Baba then raided Hansen from New Japan, using the Funks as conduits. Hansen was the top foreign star with All Japan for two decades, working with every top star that ever came through that promotion, and also had runs as headliners in the AWA, where he was world champion, and WCW, where he was U.S. champion.