Friday, 29 March 2013

Stan Hansen - STILL 'The Best to Ever Fucking do It'

Stan Hansen v Kenta Kobashi (All Japan, 4/10/94)

So, this isn't quite on the level of the 7/93 match...but fuck me is it an absolute corker of a wrestling match in its own right. I mean, God damn. I thought Hansen was the GOAT before this, and I'm even more convinced after it. Has there ever been a better "wounded animal" in wrestling history? Really, Kobashi is excellent here and it's far from a Hansen carry job, but Stan is just everything I want in a pro-wrestler. Match starts out with Kobashi being as fired up as he was the last time, throwing some great looking kicks that hit Stan right under the chin. Hansen is Hansen and can turn a match with a single strike (and fuck does he drill Kobashi with a couple forearms), but Kobashi is younger and hungrier and keeps on coming. His chops are landing harder, he's got more in the tank, and he's got the bit between his teeth. He came so close in '93; in '94 he's a year more experienced. He's a year better. Hansen is a year older and a bit more broken down. He struggled the previous year and he's struggling even more this year. So he ditches the straight shit and just cracks Kobashi in the face with the greatest "fuck you" bar room headbutt ever. He might be a year older, but that makes him a year SURLIER. And holy shit does Stan just take Kobashi to the cleaners for the next few minutes, Tenryu punting him in the face, chucking chairs at him, elbowing him in the teeth, smashing tables over him and powerbombing him on the exposed concrete (which is how he managed to turn the 7/93 match in his favour). There's a close up of Kobashi post-powerbomb and he has this amazing dead-eyed stare into space. For the rest of the match he never looks quite right, kind of crawling around at points like his spine's been mangled. Hansen then tries a shoulder tackle off the apron, but Kobashi moves and Stan goes flying into the barricade injuring his ribs. This is where wounded animal Hansen kicks in. For the rest of the match he sells the ribs like a fucking KING -- you can buy him having a punctured lung off a cracked rib, but you can never count him out, either. He's Stan Hansen and he's always flinging fists and boots. If there's one guy in wrestling that won't go down without a fight, it's Hansen. Kobashi has a bunch of cool ways to target the ribs as well, throwing these nasty looking body punches in close and sort of throwing himself shoulder-first into the ribs while Hansen is in the corner. There's an awesome moment towards the end when Hansen gets desperate and tries a splash off the top, but Kobashi gets the knees up and Hansen just full force lands unprotected across both knees (looked brutal, plus Hansen is a beefy dude, so a bump like that is kind of nuts when you think about it). The Western Lariat even feels like desperation here; he hits it from a standing position, but he can't really capitalise on it because of the injury (Kobashi still sells it like it knocked him loopy, though). Crowd come completely unglued for the moonsaults at the end, and the pop for Kobashi finally putting him away after the second one is amazing. Really felt like this was the biggest win of the guy's career to that point (and it was), and the massive Kobashi chant while he stands there in the middle of the ring afterwards was a hell of a cool moment. Killer match.

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