Hanson is currently part of a world-traveled and championship-decorated tag team, War Machine. Back in the late 2000s, however, when Hanson still was grinding on the independent circuit in New England, a broken back nearly ended his wrestling career.
"For like 2½ years I had pain and thought it was my hip," Hanson told Fightful.com in an exclusive interview. "I went to the doctor and when I described my pain, he told me it was more than my hip it was my back. I had a large fracture on my left side and a smaller fracture on my right side. The poor doctor was terrified to tell me that it was broken.
"Doctors told me I was done but I came back."
Winner of ROH's 2014 Top Prospect Tournament, Hanson has combined with Rowe to win the ROH Tag Titles and, earlier this year, had a two-month reign as iWGP Tag Champions. Tonight, War Machine looks to become two-time ROH champs when they challenge the Young Bucks at Best In The World, the latest ROH iPPV taking place on Hanson's home turf in Lowell, MA.
"We wrestled the Bucks a few times now but never with this kind of platform. I think that's what Ray and I might be most excited about," Hanson said, adding, "Literally, those 15 years I talked about that I've been wrestling? Literally all 15 of those years I've been wrestling in Lowell. I'm pumped to go into the Lowell Memorial Auditorium—a historic venue [that] I went and saw house shows there when I was a kid, to go into that building, live on pay-per-view to wrestle the most popular tag team in the world. Not the best tag team in the world. That would be us.”
Here are some additional highlights from our interview with Hanson.
His take on the recent 'dive' debate in wrestling
“I think right now we're living in the era of the 'gif'. … especially the younger wrestlers, they tend to only want to wrestle for that. They want to have these matches where they know there's going to be some gifs from that and get some exposure. And it does, it gives them exposure and it puts them on a platform where all sorts of people can see them. But at the same time, they don't necessarily know what they're doing yet. … they're put in a high-level situation, they're not necessarily going to succeed. That part, that element of wrestling, it's hurting the business some. So part of me wants to agree a little bit with Rip Rogers or Randy Orton for that matter. But then part of me is like, the business has evolved in general. … we just saw [Kazuchika] Okada and Kenny Omega go for an hour and it wasn't a headlock match that Rip Rogers would be a huge fan of or an OVW Special. Wrestling has evolved and dives or crazy spots are part of the business now. And it;'s all part of the storytelling that we do—where these huge moments happen in a match. I kind of see both sides of the scenario. Ultimately, the business is constantly evolving and it's not always going to be headlock matches or wristlocks. It's part of the evolution.”
On winning the IWGP Tag Titles
“I've always been told that I'd do great in Japan, I'd do wonderful in Japan. … to go to Japan and every single tour, every single match, just feel the audience gravitate to us., Through all of [World] Tag League last year, we'd go out, relatively unknowns to the Japanese audience and by the time we left the ring, left the building, they were embracing us. … it gives me goosebumps right now. It's even more amazing, more surreal, to feel that audience come with us.”
On which ROH wrestlers he thinks would be successful in New Japan
"Dalton Castle's an easy pick, and Silas Young, I think. If they're given some tours in Japan, some opportunities, they could really do some cool stuff and really get over."
On dressing as The Boys to team with Castle at an ROH house show
"That was awesome. We were excited to do that. We weren't even sure if they were going to let us do that so we just went under the radar and did it ourselves. … To go out in front of that Milwaukee audience and be the Boys for a night, that was a good night."
Fightful.com will have live results and discussion of Best In The World tonight. Don't miss it!