Wrestling legend Stan Hansen recently spoke to the Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling Podcast about several topics, including the infamous Vader incident. You can check out highlights below, or the full podcast at this link.
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."
Actually knocking out Vader's eye:
"I really couldn't see. I saw him pull the mask off and grab his eye and I heard him say something. I didn't know what it was, so I just looked and went on with it. I couldn't see his eyeball, I didn't know if his eyeball came out or it just messed up, I'm not sure what it is. People say it came out and he pushed it back in, I don't know because I couldn't see."
Facing the biggest Japanese stars of the 80s/90s wrestling scene:
"I was very fortunate. I got to wrestle with all the great top Japanese guys. If I have a claim to "fame" it's that I got to wrestle against (Antonio) Inoki, I got to wrestle against (Giant) Baba, Jumbo (Tsuruta), (Genichiro) Tenryu and then (Mitsuharu) Misawa and Kawada, (Kenta) Kobashi in that order and they were all just great. Tenyru was a great opponent and also I was teamed up with him a little bit. All those guys were really good and especially as things changed over there and certain people left, all of a sudden they had these three young guys in Kawada, Kobashi and Misawa. Misawa was already established but Kobashi and Kawada were coming up and I just happened to be in the right place and we had some great and did unbelievable business for about five or six years. You can go out and have a match and you can do your thing but your match is only as good as your opponent and I had some great opponents. All those guys fought from underneath and kept fighting from underneath and it took years for them to get over me but when they did the people believed in them because I beat the crap out of them for five or six years. So when they get there they have some legitimacy about what they are and how they got there. But they were great opponents, all three of them. I really enjoyed working with those guys."
See Also: Vader Talks Getting His Start, Ultimate Warrior And Sid Almost Getting His Gimmick, Stan Hansen
The crazy crowds in Puerto Rico and wrestling Carlos Colon:
"I call it a third world country, but of course it's not. It was wild and completely different. The wrestling fans used to sell rocks so they could throw them at you. That's kind of what you had to deal with and they would throw spark plugs. You grab a metal chair and the chair would be dented where your face is where spark plugs would be hitting it. Carlos was over and he was the top guy there and I got hooked up with him and he was a legitimate star in Puerto Rico for sure and I made a little money down there."
His brief stint in WCW and facing Lex Luger:
"I hear negative things about Lex Luger but to me he was a good worker and he was obviously over. But as far as doing business and being a primadonna like I've heard a lot of people say about him, I never ran into that. He was in a great spot and he made some great money and I think a lot of that negative is a lot of guys being just jealous of him and Sting's position and so fourth. They were in a good position and good for them. I never had a bit of problem with Lex Luger in the ring. We had some good matches and I wish him a lot of luck."
Stan Hansen also discusses his Bruiser Brody book "The Last Outlaw", his traveling experiences, teaming with Danny Spivey, working in the US, briefly appearing in WCW, facing Lex Luger and his legacy on the pro wrestling business.