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Stan Hansen talks about wrestling Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, Big Van Vader

Stan Hansen recently appeared on The Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling podcast to talk about moments from his storied career and tales that helped make his book “The Last Outlaw” such a compelling read. Here are the highlights.

Facing Bruno Sammartino so early in his career:

I’d only been in the business I think about three years when I got the opportunity. A good friend of Bruno saw me wrestling in the Dallas territory and he went back and told Bruno and Vince Sr. about a big ol’ Texan that might be good in New York. So he was kind of instrumental in opening the door for me getting into New York and of course going with Bruno and I ended up hurting him the first match and it was an accident, but it was a legit injury and he was just a class guy. He never held it against me or anything and I must say that Bruno is one of the classiest guys I’ve ever met in the business. He was a legitimate superstar long before they used the word superstar in wrestling. He was almost like a “GOD” in that WWWF territory and I hurt him and that hurt the business. It took a lot of opportunity away from Ernie Ladd, Ivan Koloff and Billy “Superstar” Graham who were working against Bruno when I worked with him in “The Garden”. When I hurt him in “The Garden” he couldn’t’ continue on and work against those guys and it ended up costing them some money because they didn’t get to work with Bruno all the way through. All of them didn’t outwardly hold a grudge against me and I really appreciate that.

Teaming with a young Hulk Hogan in Japan:

Hulk ended up being a great guy. He became a great star. We were actually kind of teamed up for a little bit over there for a little while. He came back years later and I ended up having a match with him but at the time we were teamed up and doing good for about a year and a half or so we got to know each other really well. When he came back to “The States” he put his emphasis in “The States” and of course the rest is history. He was a good guy, who came up the hard way. He had to sleep in a  van on the beach and didn’t have enough money to check into a motel, a lot like I did. I was glad that he had that kind of success.

His singles match vs. Hogan in 1990 as part of The Wrestling Summit:

The match was different, but I think Hogan enjoyed the fact that it was a different kind of match then the WWWF or whatever it was then. He was successful every place he’s been and I’m glad for him. He’ll bounce back from everything, he’s a survivor and he will be ok.

Facing Big Van Vader the night of the infamous “eye-ball” incident:

It was “take it easy Leon”. It’s like hanging on to a big ol’ moose. Leon was big and strong and quick. He was the real deal. That match was a brutal match, I don’t think either one of us would want to go through it again or couldn’t now probably. A lot of it was hanging on and he was New Japan’s guy and I was All Japan’s guy so it was pretty competitive I must say and it was stiff.

You can listen to the entire interview here.


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