Opinion

Matt Rab: What Is Ken Shamrock’s Place In WWE History?

The “world’s most dangerous man” Ken Shamrock has been in the news lately saying that he has been reaching out to the WWE but no one will return his phone calls. Those of us who tuned in during the ‘attitude era’ remember Shamrock very well due to him being the first cross over athlete to go from the octagon to the squared circle.

Shamrock was a part of the UFC back before it blew up in the late 90’s and according to Ken, the interest was mutual between him and the then WWF. He felt that they were looking for stars to replace those that had left for other promotions (atchoo – Hogan, Hall, Nash) and they wanted someone to help progress this new direction of attitude. Who better to bring in than a ripped-up MMA fighter that had “shoot fighting” credibility and a wrestling background?

Shamrock joined the WWE in 1997 and was the special guest referee for the WrestleMania 13 submission match between Brett Hart and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. From there he became a steady in ring talent who feuded with the likes of Vader, Jeff Jarrett, Steve Blackman, Triple H, Austin, Undertaker, and Owen Hart – just to name a few. It was 1999 when an injury angle provided the storyline impetus for his exit from the WWE to go back to the Octagon.

After researching his departure, there seems to have been a few things that led to him leaving the WWE. The first being that he was spending a lot of time on the road and he was missing things at home. As an MMA fighter the travel schedule wasn’t near what it was with the WWF and that was wearing on him and his family (he was married with 4 children at the time).

The second thing was that he felt he was in a sense being punished by those above him for being friends with Brett Hart following the Montreal screw job. Because he trained with Hart and in a sense was someone that lent a listening ear to him following the screw job, that was seen by others (Vince and Shawn Michaels) as taking a side. That of course led to a change in his booking and over time he felt that it would probably be better if he found another opportunity.

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Was Vince really going after him due to his relationship with Bret? Who knows, since the Montreal screw job Bret Hart has come back to the WWE a few times and things seem to be good between him and Vince. Ken still doesn’t know why he’s been put on the “don’t call” list but he feels that he should be in the WWE Hall Of Fame.

The problem is that no one knows what you need to do to be inducted besides Vince McMahon and being on his shit list is never a good thing. I think Ken was great when he came in and he certainly helped progress the attitude era of the WWE. He came in and instantly brought credibility to the matches and certainly came in with the attitude and personality that era needed to continue to battle WCW in the Monday Night Wars.

I do feel though that him coming back to the now “PG” WWE would be nothing more than a disappointment. I don’t feel that his character fits what they are doing now creatively and at 53 years old would it be worth it? Sure they brought back Goldberg, but when we think of Goldberg we think of his winning streak and his main event level status of WCW—which is leaps and bounds ahead of Shamrock.

Not to take anything away from Ken Shamrock and what he did in his few years with the company. He was intercontinental champion, tag team champion, and the 1998 King of the Ring. Ken came at a different time in wrestling and in the end it’s okay to just be happy with what you accomplished.

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