Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Stan 'The Man' Stasiak - Yay Or Nay For The Hall of Fame

Hello Dwellers and Welcome to The Basement… 

And it’s Wednesday, so time for Yay or Nay for the Hall of Fame…

Also, apparently I’m a ‘neckbeard’ because I sport a ‘Fedora’ and tend to let my facial hair grow for long periods of times… the internet is a weird place... imagine if I wore my glasses, I'd be called a 'hipster'.

Any way, Last week, I went over the case of Ivan Koloff, who transitioned the WWWF Championship from Bruno Sammartino to Pedro Morales… this week, I’ll be looking at the case of Stan The Man Stasiak… who transitioned the same championship from Morales BACK to Sammartino. For those wondering, it had all to do with population at the time, Sammartino was big with the Italians, and Morales with the Puerto Ricans, and Sammrtino was a bigger star…wrestling can be strange like that.

From what I can find out, the man who would be ‘The Man’, is said to have debuted in 1958, but the earliest records I can find of him wrestling is in 1959 he was seen a lot Sasatchewan and Alberta under the name of Emile Koverly with ‘Big Time Wrestling’, which was the predecessor to ‘All-Star Wrestling’ in western Canada. The earliest record I can find of him using the name ‘Stan Stasiak’ would be in 1960, in a tag team match for Central States Wrestling in Missouri, where he lost a tag team match with Rocky Lee to Joe Hamilton and Thor Hagen (Now that’s a great name!).

Stasiak would been seen in a number of territories, NWA St. Louis, the America Wrestling Assoicuation, NWA Upstate out of Buffalo, Maple Leaf Wrestling  in Toronto up till about 1963 before returning back to ‘Big Time Wrestling’ in Western Canada. Tracking down match results from the 1960s is a big problem matic, but I have seen records of him facing off against the likes of Don Leo Jonathan & Karl Gotch. Towards the later end of the decade, Satsiak saw time in Wildcat Wrestling, again primarily in western Canada, as well as Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling. One thing of note is in the late 60s, is when I see Stasiak being involved in a number of title matches, including a shot at the NWA World Heavyweight Championship held by Gene Kiniski in 1967, and winning the Stampedes North American Heavyweight Championship. Following a stop over in Portland in 1971, Stasiak would head to the WWWF.

From 1971 to 1979, the World Wide-Wrestling Federation would be Stasiak’s home, his earliest match in the company I can find on record is dated August 30, 1971, defeating Pedro Morales, followed a month later with a count-out victory over Gorilla Monsoon, plus battles with Bobo Brazil, Chief Jay Strongbow, and Arnold Skaaland. In that same year is when Stasiak got his first shot at the WWWF title, losing to Morales on October 25, 1971, but he would remain a to contender, getting several title shot. In 1972, Stasiak started to do some outside work from the WWWWF, winning the NWA Texas Heavyweight Title in the Texas version of Big Time Wrestling (which would later go on to be World Class Championship Wrestling) and a tour with All Japan Por Wrestling. Following a stop over in Oregon once again, Stasiak would get another crack at the NWA World Heavyweight title in July of 1973, this time losing to Harley Race

Returning back to the WWWF, Stasiak was again a top contender for Morales’s WWWF Championship, and started facing new opponents such as Tony Garea, Andre The Giant, and the now un-retired Bruno Sammartino. Stasiak would continue to to be used at the top of the card until finally, on December 1, 1973, after numerous opportunities, Stasiak would defeat Pedro Morales for the WWWF Heavyweight title in Philadelphia, PA. So as you can tell, Stasiak was a solid star and credible challenger, with hard work paying off for him.  However Sasiak’s reign would be short lived, he would retain the title via a ‘no-contest’ against   Stronbow on December 7 before dropping the title to Sammartino on December 10. So yeah… an 11 day reign as champion. That’s nothing to sneeze at, he is after the 5th man to ever become WWWF Champion, behind Buddy Rogers, Sammartino, Ivan Koloff and Morales.

Following the title switch, Stasiak started seeing more defeats than victories, getting a title rematch in January 1974, and later challenging for the WWWF Tag Team titles with Larry ‘The Ax’ Henning in April of that year, before going on a tour with New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he clashed with Antonio Inoki and Masa Saito. In the mid 70s, Stasiak saw action with the WWWF and NWA St. Louis , and new opponents such as Pat O’Connor, Rocky Johnson, Dick The Bruiser, Ivan Putski and others… while still getting shots at Sammartino and the WWWF Title…  one of which being a count—out victory, which was followed by the two men doing battle in a Sicilian Stretcher match in December of 1976. Stasiak would continue to be a featured attration, doing battle with old foes and new, including Sammartino’s protege Larry Zbysko and Billy White Wolf, and continue to earn chance after chance for both the territory's Heavyweight and Tag Team Titles.

In the late 70s, Stasiak wouldn’t do much much outside work from the WWWF, the occasional one shot with Maple Leaf Wrestling, but he would stay in ‘New York, seeing clashes with SD Jones, Peter Maivia and others, but it appeared some of his more regular opponents continued to be Garea and Putski. In 1977, he would challenge Superstar Billy Graham for the WWWF Title in Tortono, in a rare heel vs heel match and a year later  coming up short against Bob Backlund. As staked with  Ivan Koloff last, Stasiak challenged all four long term WWWF Champions in the decade of the 70s, which is a feat not many people can say. For the remainder of his time, Stasiiak would see plenty of action, but title shots became fewer, most often challenging for the Tag Team titles with a variety of partners, but his days of being put on as a challenger for the Heavyweight belt were done.

Leaving the territory for good in 1979, Stasiak would tour with New Japan once again landing in Oregon with Pacific Northwest Wrestling  He would win the PNW Heavyweight title in August of that year and hold it for time. He would do battle against Roddy Piper, Buddy Rose, and the Sheepherders (aka the Bushwhackers)… he even teamed with Piper to challenge the Sheepherders for the NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Titles. He would venture back to All-Star Wrestling in Western Canada for ab it before heading down to Bill Watts’ Mid-South Wrestling in the spring of 1980, then moving back down to Texas and then coming back to Oregon where he would stay before retiring in 1984 and pass away in 1997

Now I’m sure there is a lot of stuff about Stan Stasiak’s career that I missed, but I was going off of what I’ve been able to find… and looking at his career on the whole… and… yeah, it seems like Stasiak has a Hall of Fame worthy career. From the late 60s onward, it seems like he was always towards the top end of the card, was a credible challenge for a champion to face, so it wouldn’t be shocking in the rare instance he dethroned the incumbent title holder, plus it would obviously draw a crowd, giving the number of time he and Pedro Morales did battle for the WWWF title.

So the verdict is this, as far as I’m concerned, it is indeed should a ‘Yay’ for the WWE Hall of Fame as far as Stan The Man is concerned… and I’ll go one step further and say should a ‘Yay’ for the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Hall of Fame, who only last year bothered to induct Ivan Koloff... which says alot about the voters and their knowledge of wrestling history.

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