WWE Confirms Stan Hansen for Hall of Fame Class of 2016

We’re just two weeks away from Wrestlemania weekend, which includes the WWE Hall of Fame 2016 ceremony. However, WWE isn’t finished announcing inductees for this year’s ceremony, officially confirming one of the long-rumored names for this year’s honors: former AWA World Champion and Japanese wrestling icon Stan Hansen.

“Stan Hansen, Borger, Texas’ nastiest resident, will take his place in sports-entertainment history on the eve of WrestleMania 32, when he is inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016,” the press release reads. “The news was reported by Tokyo Sports in Japan, the country where Hansen spent most of his storied career.” Hansen joins a Hall of Fame class that includes Sting, The Godfather, The Fabulous Freebirds, The Big Boss Man and Jacqueline Moore.

For those unfamiliar with Hansen’s considerable career, the press release goes into detail about the Texan’s substantial accomplishments:

WWE Confirms Stan Hansen for Hall of Fame Class of 2016

Credit: WWE

Hansen’s journey to the ring began in an unusual place: On the gridiron at West Texas State University, a factory for future wrestlers. When his football days came to an end, Hansen stepped into the squared circle and quickly earned a reputation as one of the most vicious competitors in the sport. Hansen’s style of wrestling wasn’t technically proficient or beautiful by any stretch of the imagination. It was dirty, gritty and ferocious. And it worked.

With an ever-present scowl on his face and his bull rope in hand, The Bad Man from Borger made his way to WWE in 1976. Hansen immediately set his sights on then-WWE Champion Bruno Sammartino. The double-tough Texan stunned fans when he broke The Living Legend’s neck with a devastating clothesline that would become known as the Lariat.

After a rematch with Sammartino at Shea Stadium, Hansen traversed across the Pacific Ocean to Japan, where he became a legend. One of the most feared foreigners in Japanese wrestling history, Hansen was the first gaijin to earn victories over the country’s most revered grapplers, Giant Baba and WWE Hall of Famer Antonio Inoki. While in Japan, Hansen also formed one of the most devastating tag teams in wrestling history with an old college friend, the unhinged Bruiser Brody. The cowboy and the fur-clad wildman had Japanese fans running from them as they entered the ring, and their opponents begging for mercy.

In between trips to Japan, Hansen returned to the U.S. to unleash his brand of brutality on American soil. The Bad Man from Borger won the AWA World Championship by defeating Rick Martel in 1985. He never lost the title, choosing to vacate it by running it over with his truck. In 1990, he ended Lex Luger’s record-setting reign as United States Champion. By 1991, he exclusively competed in Japan for the next 10 years, retiring in 2001 as a decorated champion and a legend in The Land of the Rising Sun.

This is a well-deserved honor for a genuine old school legend. As one of the biggest foreign stars in the history of Japan, and one of wrestling’s toughest men both inside and outside the ring, Hansen has amassed countless championships (the man was an All-Japan Pro Wrestling tag team champion EIGHT times with FIVE different partners!) and the respect of both his peers and fans alike. While the WWE Hall of Fame still has a number of glaring omissions (seriously, where is Rick Rude?), I’m glad Hansen is no longer one of them. This is an induction that is long overdue, in my opinion.

What do you think of Stan Hansen being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2016?

And for more on the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2016, read up on rumors of Sting’s plans to announce his retirement at the ceremony!

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