Mixed Martial Arts Legend. Former WWE Superstar. UFC Hall of Famer. The World’s Most Dangerous Man. The Godfather of MMA.
All of the above have all been phrases attributed to Ken Shamrock, a former champion in virtually every promotion he competed for. Anyone who saw Shamrock compete either in shoot promotions like the UFC, Pride or Pancrase or in worked organizations like the WWE and TNA, where he was the upstart promotion’s first Heavyweight Champion, could not help but me impressed with his intensity and ability to strike fear in opponents and fans alike with his mere presence.
As much as those phrases all describe Shamrock admirably, I found myself thinking of a different series of adjectives while I was talking to the former multi-time champion. Innovator, businessman, mentor, historian all were coming to mind. Perhaps the most accurate word might be reflective, as Ken Shamrock, at 48 years old, though still looking like he could enter the octagon, has ended the stage in his life where he made his name with his fighting prowess, and now uses his intellect to guide his path, and history to understand his past, and that of the sport he helped to make famous.[i]
The UFC has evolved into a multi-million dollar empire, and as athletic entities grow, the pioneers who were there at the beginning generally see their legend grow.[ii] As a still relatively young man, and living in the digital age, it is easy to fans to watch the early matches of Shamrock and see the early stars of the sport and understand the evolution of a product that for many has replaced Boxing as the premier combat sport in North America. For many fans, Shamrock symbolizes when Mixed Martial Arts began, although if you ask Ken himself, he might give you a different view.
The labels he has been given might flatter Shamrock, but in our conversation, he is looking towards putting the correct historical perspective of his career, and the sport of Mixed Martial Arts as a whole.
Here is one of the questions in the interview:
I personally feel that you did not receive the credit you deserve for bringing Mixed Martial Arts elements to the WWE. With all due respect to Dan Severn who was there at the same time you were, he didn’t have the same impact you did.[xiv] I will go on record that a match you had with the Undertaker on Pay Per View, was an underappreciated match where Taker was clearly showing he was influenced by what you had already done.[xv] Do you think the WWE has put your influence on their product in proper perspective
“I don’t know if I can really speak to that. I do feel that I definitely deserve to be in their Hall of Fame based on the things that I did while I was there, being able to change that sport along with other people. I feel I earned that right based on what I was able to do there in a small amount of time.
I’m not sure that I can stand here and boast about that. The fans are the ones that really tell the tale and I think they speak very loudly about where I stand in pro wrestling. I don’t think that there are too many people who would tell you that I don’t deserve to be there.
Obviously, a lot of times the fans aren’t listened to, or their opinions are overlooked a lot. Today’s promoters just push them aside and don’t listen to what they want and they want fans to ‘shut up, sit down and enjoy the show’, because we are going to do whatever we want to do, like it or not, because you are going to come to the show.
I hear it all the time in the WWE. I hear about how fans would like to see certain wrestlers, and obviously you can’t give them everything they want, but you at least have to listen to them and I believe they are being completely ignored. I’ve always said that I think the fans are most important that you have when it comes to the entertainment industry. They are the ones that matter most and they should be heard.”