Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Welcome to Puerto Rico, Stan Hansen

Stan Hansen v Carlos Colon (10/12/86)

And now for a look at a completely different kind of crazy person. Where Terry Funk is unhinged and liable to do something nuts at any moment, he IS pretty goofy. It doesn't mean you should be any less wary of him, but you can laugh at him sometimes (just make sure he doesn't notice). Hansen...there's nothing funny about Hansen. There are no goofball antics with him, no instances where you go, "that guy's a maniac, but it was funny that time he got his pants pulled down and bounced around bare-arsed." He's just a whirlwind of chaos and violence and there's no building up to it. There's no simmering, no bubbling below the surface before it erupts. It's front and centre for everyone to see the second he hits the scene. And it's infectious. The way he carries himself, his demeanour, everything about him sets off everyone else around him, to the point where the whole arena ends up rabid. It's like when one dog on the street starts barking. It sets off the neighbour's, which sets off the other neighbour's, and before you know it every dog on the block is howling. That's what Hansen brings with his presence. It's a chain reaction of palpable fucking craziness. I'll be honest, my expectations for this feud were through the roof, and that was before I'd gotten a handle on how good Colon was. After those Colon/Abby matches they were even higher. The best brawler of all time coming into THIS territory, working against the ace...of course I was expecting something special. And fuck, how about this for a place to start? Hansen was so amazing in this. He takes out the referee inside half a minute, then wraps the bullrope around Colon's neck and swings him into the ring posts. Security literally have to follow Hansen around the ringside area because he's kicking barricades and getting in fans' faces and generally being a madman. He breaks a foot stool or something over Colon's head and jabs the broken corner of it into his face. Hansen's energy is seriously something to behold. He never stops; it's just constant crazy. At one point he picks up one of the many pieces of garbage lying in the ring, shows it to the crowd like "thank you for this crushed up Coke can, I'm now going to stab your hero in the head with it" and stabs Colon in the head with it. Colon's selling through all of this was great as well. He's fighting the odds from the very beginning and at times it feels like all he can possibly hope to do is slow Hansen's momentum rather than actually gain an upper hand. But the more he does stop the momentum, the more he can chip away at him. Every time Hansen loses control, it takes him a little longer to regain it. Stan sold that cumulative damage in a way that made it look like Colon's attacks were mounting up, and it made everything Colon did feel truly earned, because Hansen never gave him anything easily. It all got the crowd behind their boy even more, so by the end they're just losing their mind. When he finally managed to take firm control - after a good old kick in the balls - it was like he'd climbed a mountain, despite the mountain trying to throw him off at every turn. Then Al Perez had to come and spoil his party. Awesome first installment in this feud. I'm ready for everything else these two did together.

Invader I v Al Perez (Street Fight) (10/26/86)

This is the best thing Al Perez ever did in his career, right? This was another awesome wild brawl, right on the level of your crazy Jim Duggan Mid-South alley fights (in a lot of ways this is probably the Puerto Rico equivalent of Duggan/Sawyer). It's becoming trite to say it at this point, but holy fuck was Invader great. This had all the blood and face-punching and nut-punting you'd expect, but Invader's selling holds it all together. Maybe that's doing a bit of a disservice to Perez, because he was really good in this and I'd be shocked if he was ever better, but Invader in this kind of match is one of the surest things of the 80s. The progressive toll of Perez's shots, the blood loss, the desperation he puts into his comebacks, with his running punch and double thrust to the throat -- it was all awesome. He has the crowd eating out the palm of his hand as well, the way he beats on his chest when it's time to REALLY kick somebody's butt and the crowd responds by going mental. Perez tried to throw him over the side of a stairwell and he was literally hanging over the edge of this drop by his legs while the crowd were screaming and losing their minds, and this is Puerto Rico so you know it's plausible that he might actually fall. Then he came back with a chair and the people were right there with him for every shot, and of course he threw Perez down the fucking stairwell because every single fan in that building would've done the same. And what is Invader I, if not a man of the people?

Stan Hansen v Carlos Colon (11/9/86)

A step below their first match, and I guess it kinda sort of maybe feels more like feud progression than a fully formed match, but fuck it. It's these two, and it was good, and it was very different from that first match. This time Colon jumps Hansen at the bell, and in one of the few occasions I can ever remember we get Stan Hansen very much on the back foot to start a match. Colon busts him open and throws his awesome headbutts while Hansen tries to rid himself of his chaps and jacket. It's this kind of thing that makes me think Hansen is the best to ever do it. If you've seen one Stan Hansen match then you've seen him beat the crap out of somebody. If you've seen several Stan Hansen matches then you've seen him beat the crap out of several somebodies. He might be the best ever at that particular aspect of pro wrestling. But his selling and ability to show vulnerability or, in those rare instances, even fear; those are the things that really put him over the top. I hadn't watched any Hansen outside All Japan in ages, and that was never an environment where you were likely to find Hansen outright begging off or borderline stooging. But he wasn't afraid to here, and Stan bastarding Hansen asking for a bit of reprieve made Colon seem like a badass in his own right. There was some dueling limb work in this, and it didn't last long or anything, but I liked how it came about. First Colon goes for a high knee in the corner and hits the turnbuckle, so Hansen jumps on this opening and goes after the leg for a little bit. He soon drops it in favour of throwing Colon into a fence and mushing his face into it, but it was cool while it lasted. Shortly after this Hansen tries to lariat Colon on the floor, but Colon moves and Hansen lariats the ring post, so Colon works the arm for a short spell, wrapping it around the post and bashing it off the dugout. That doesn't last long either, but both felt like examples where an opportunity presented itself for one guy to inflict some extra damage on his opponent, before eventually going back to the more attractive option of beating his head off something solid. Hansen kicking the shit out of the commissioner post-match ruled as well. I don't remember ever seeing him lariat somebody while they're on all fours, but he did it here and of course it must've sucked being on the receiving end of that.

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