April 26th, 1984
Written by Jason Hillenburg, posted by blog admin
Hansen’s motor never stops. Even when the match slows with rest holds, you always sense Hansen’s engagement with the drama. His great friend and legendary tag team partner Bruiser Brody had much of the same style, down to the restless pacing like a caged animal before the match and their inevitable attack before the bell, but Hansen was ultimately better suited to conveying some sense of vulnerability while still maintaining his rugged edge. Dory Funk Jr. is still a credible performer at this point, 1984, but the bloom has long since left the rose and overpowering Hansen at any point stretches our suspension of disbelief.
There’s an obvious design to the match once you get a few minutes in. Do not mistake that for predictability – instead, Hansen versus Funk Jr. from April 26th, 1984 is a good study of how the journey is more important than the destination. They intersperse traditional high spots with periods of mat wrestling but vary the transitions between these individual segments. Funk starts slow, as always, but his veteran talents shine through as the match goes on with Funk Jr. showing flashes of his youthful energy. People with a limited command of Funk Jr,’s past will remember him late in his career as a methodical, essentially colorless wrestler, but the young Funk Jr. is a different matter altogether.
Hansen takes a powder out of the ring around the fourteen minute mark and blades. It’s a good job getting color as the bleeding starts slow before soon covering the bulk of his face. One of my favorite points comes when Hansen, struggling in Funk Jr.’s grip near a turnbuckle, slaps Dory across the face which sends him reeling backwards. His feet hook under the ropes and Hansen puts the boots to him. We move into the final sequence of the match with a couple of false finishes before Funk Jr. turns the tables on Hansen and seems poised for victory. Bruiser Brody comes off a turnbuckle as Funk covers Hansen and breaks up a seemingly certain victory. Mayhem ensues after . Brody sends Funk flying outside. Hansen follows, rips up protective mats from the ringside area, and Brody piledrives Funk on the exposed concrete. It’s an angle to set up a later tag match between Brody and Hansen versus Funk Jr. and his younger brother Terry and the final image of young Japanese wrestlers carrying Funk Jr. away from the ring in a mat is a memorable last sell for the upcoming match.