This was filmed in either 2002 or 2003 I believe.
The interview was conducted by Rob Feinstein
It runs for two hours and twenty-five minutes long
Hansen is first asked about his football background. He went to West Texas State, where the Funk’s and other pro wrestlers went to school. He had tryouts with the Colts and the Chargers and was teaching school at the time as well.
Hansen said he knew who the Funk’s where at the time as he saw them on TV but did not follow wrestling much at all. He got to know Terry Funk while playing college ball as most of the team knew who he was and they started to go to the shows for half-price with a student discount. Hansen said they’d all drink a few beers before going to the shows where they would loudly chant for Terry.
He talks about working out with Terry and Dory Funk, along with someone else he forgets, and learned wrestling from then but did not have much formal training at all. Hansen credits breaking into a territory (Amarillo) filled with talented veterans for helping him learn to wrestle.
After working for Leroy McGuirk, he worked over in Japan. This was in 1975. He came back then worked for Fritz Von Erich in Dallas where Red Bastein was the booker. This was where he met Rick Martel for the first time, who was just 19 years old. Hansen puts over Martel for being a great worker even back then.
On going to the WWWF, Hansen said Mike Paidousis (Journeyman wrestler from Ohio) went up there and was friends with Bruno Sammartino and suggested his name due to his size as the WWWF was known for having bigger wrestlers.
After two months, he had a program with Bruno. Hansen said he followed Ivan Koloff, Ernie Ladd, and Superstar Billy Graham as Bruno’s opponent. However, he broke Bruno’s neck and that got him a lot of heat with Vince and the top heels who missed their chances at bigger paydays made comments but nothing that significant according to Hansen. He also said that he never fit in with Vince’s guys and admits to being standoffish at the time.
Regarding Vince McMahon Jr. at this time, Hansen said he was announcing and would always joke around with him before talking about the chemistry they had on interviews. At this time, he never saw him as someone who could take over the wrestling world.
Hansen talks about other opponents he faced in the WWWF. He said that his match against Ivan Putski at Madison Square Garden after he broke Bruno’s neck was memorable. He was even told that they received bomb threats and had him show up early to the show. After the match, which ended when Putski got busted open, three rows of guys locked their arms as Hansen had to have security form a triangle to hustle him out of the arena and immediately into a taxi where he was told to lay down in the seat for his safety as the fans nearly caused a riot. After that, they had him sit out a few MSG shows and wanted him to come back for a Shea Stadium show, where Bruno received an insane reaction from the crowd. Hansen talks about after the match, he had to sprint into the dugout and slam the door shut as fans were trying to attack him. He even said some fans had actual heart attacks during the show and that a cop turned to him and said “I bet you are proud of what you just did.”
He went back to Japan after the WWWF because he did not want to be stuck there for years as a stale act. Hansen did a tour working for Antonio Inoki and was the only American on the tour. Vince Sr. booked him on that tour but after that he started booking himself so he could control where he would work. He also liked how their was not a lot of politics and based off of production instead of who you were friends with.
On his matches against Andre the Giant, Hansen said he owes a lot of his success to Andre. Outside of the ring, Hansen said he enjoyed being with the other wrestlers and loved to drink.
Hansen went to Georgia and worked there when Ole Anderson was the booker. He worked a Japanese style in his first match and Ole was impressed enough to give him a push. Ole said Jim Barnett was the owner but only saw him occasionally, usually when they wrestled at the Omni. He was asked about Tommy Rich and said he told Ole to let them work but was told Tommy was too green as Hansen said a young guy getting beat but refusing to back down is an easy way to get over.
He is now asked about jumping from New Japan Pro Wrestling over to All Japan Pro Wrestling. Hansen said money was a factor but he also heard through the grapevine that no one ever said anything bad about Giant Baba and was always a man of his word so he decided to sign a contract, which was for three years. He said it was mostly for business and that while not happy, Inoki understood as Hansen stressed the importance of not burning bridges.
Hansen talks about not liking to brag but says that his tag team with Bruiser Brody was the most dominant team of all-time. He said they dominated Japan and were “blackballed” in America as they were 300lbs and could run around like junior heavyweights.
When he went to the AWA, Hansen talked about speaking with Hulk Hogan before he left for the WWF and how Hogan said he did not want to leave but Verne was getting increasingly difficult to work with. Hansen said he would show up to TV and how the booking sheets were blank as Hansen said they did not promote him the best way as they did not match him up with opponents fans wanted to see but did put over Verne for being a man of his word when it came to his payoff. He did like his match against Rick Martel at Comiskey Park.
He is asked about leaving the AWA before dropping the belt to Nick Bockwinkle. Hansen said it was due to the fact he was never promoted while the champion and it was nothing personal against Nick, who he puts over as a nice guy.
Hansen said he went in for a tryout for Jim Crockett with Bruiser Brody but they ended up going with the Road Warriors instead.
On his match against Vader at the NJPW/AJPW joint show, Hansen said they just went out there and beat the crap out of each other.
He ended up going to WCW due to the fact that Ole Anderson was the booker and felt that he could do his character while spending more time with his son at home. He wanted to be as nasty as he could as a character. However, after a few months, Ole was fired as a booker. He talks about getting DQ’ed in his first several TV matches as he would just go crazy but the TV guys wanted him to win because he was going to challenge for the title as Hansen said that they did not know the psychology of wrestling as he was getting his character over. After that, they changed his character and he did not like that much so he left.
He liked Lex Luger and heard all the things about Lex being a primadonna before working with him. Hansen said he never complained.
He said that the office wanted him to spit tobacco juice on Missy Hyatt but she did not as Hansen talked about how he never did but might have spit off camera towards her instead.
He returned to All Japan after WCW. When asked about Mitusharu Misawa, Kenta Kobashi, and Toshiaki Kawada, Hansen talks about how he knew them since they were young boys and took beatings until they developed their characters and went on to become stars on their own. He talks more about how everyone has to start somewhere.
Hansen talks about how brutal the Japanese style is and why few Americans stay over there to work that style. He talks about how you usually know your limits after five years but the Japanese guys have a different mentality and keep testing their limits.
They ask Hansen about several guys. Hansen said that Gary Albright could have really become a star and was a nice guy. He talks about not meshing with Johnny Ace as they had different styles. Hansen liked having Danny Spivey as a partner, as well as Ron Bass.
He talks about how the rough style of wrestling in Japan has ruined his knees as he talks about being able to maintain until his last two years. Hansen talked about not wanting to hang around long after he could not go anymore. He misses the income but not the wrestling.
On his lariat, Hansen said that guys did complain about the stiffness of the move but does not go into specifics about the subject.
Hansen talks about not going to another Japanese promotion due as he was loyal to Baba.
He talks about Mrs. Baba being very protective and had a lot of power but was a great wife to his boss and felt like he should be loyal to her. Hansen also talks about how Japan is a male dominated society and a lot of the boys did not like her being in charge.
On wrestling today, Hansen said he does not follow it but said Japan usually flourishes when the American companies are in a down cycle.
He ended up retiring as during a match his legs went numb. He finished the match and they found a cyst on his spine during a CAT scan and before that got knocked down during a match and did not realize what happened so he felt god was telling him it was time to give up wrestling. He also underwent knee replacement surgery too.
Hansen felt humbled during his retirement show at the Tokyo Dome. He said he never took himself too serious and after that felt he just might have carved out a small place in wrestling history.
On his vision, Hansen said that he is blind and cannot see people’s faces in the ring. He wore contact lenses a few times in the ring but did not like making eye contact with the crowd and stopped wearing them. He talks about accidentally hurting a few people due to his vision.
When asked about any “rib” stories, Hansen pretty much avoids the question.
They do some name association:
Bill Watts: Smart promoter and a good guy to work with.
Dick Murdoch: One of the best “big guys” of all-time. Hansen said he copied some of Murdoch’s style.
Jun Akiyama: Hansen felt Akiyama got it easy as he did not have to endure the rough training others went through in Japan but that he is a good athlete and is a good talent.
Wahoo McDaniel: Calls him a tough guy and puts over their match in the Meadowlands.
Dusty Rhodes: Talks about how Dusty either flunked or got kicked out of West Texas State before talking about how unique he was and that he had the ability to pop attendance when coming into a promotion.
Mil Mascaras: Hansen said he doesnt think of him as a great talent but had the ability to promote himself well and cannot knock him for how well he was built his character.
Cactus Jack: Hansen jokes about telling Cactus a bunch of stuff over in Japan but that he did not listen. He also calls him a nice guy.
The interview ends with Hansen joking about being able to spit tobacco on his fans before saying that due to spending most of his career in Japan a lot of American fans did not get to see him wrestle and for anyone who saw him, he hopes they enjoyed his matches. He then said he never wrestled for the fans but rather for himself and feels surprised someone would want to watch his interview.
Final Thoughts: I did not enjoy this interview. It was poorly structured as the timeline was all over the place. It was just Rob listing off his questions, providing almost nothing in terms of context. There was nothing about his run against Bob Backlund in the WWWF and they spent less than five minutes on his WCW stint.
Hansen himself talked slowly and liked to drone on and on, which makes it tough for the viewer to focus. I also did not feel like he provided a lot of insight into anything, which part of can be blamed due to the terrible questions he was asked.
Hansen also talked about being humbled due to his retirement show and how he never took himself seriously then throughout the interview talked about leaving companies when unsatisfied with his character’s direction, which I felt was a bit contradictory.
Overall, I cannot recommend this interview. It goes on for too long and does not satisfy in anyway.
You can purchase the DVD of this interview for $20 or the digital download for $9.99 by clicking on the links below:
Next week’s shoot interview recap will be of another member of the WWE 2016 Hall of Fame class, Jacqueline.