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" The Gravel Pit "
Ken Shamrock Shoot Interview
Posted by Brandon Truitt on Feb 10, 2003, 19:30
Before we start today, let us remember Curt Hennig, who was found dead today in his hotel room shortly after 1PM. Hennig was an incredible wrestler until his first retirement in 1991 due to a back injury. If he hadn't been collecting a disability settlement from Lloyds of London for the better part of the 1990s, he'd have certainly been the WWE or WCW champion at some point. Considering that Hennig WAS in the WWE in the past year, it would be more tasteless than normal if Vince refuses to give him a quick tribute on RAW tonight.
For those of you who are interested in a true original movie, I suggest checking out Donnie Darko, which is unlike anything I've ever seen before and is now only about $6-10 at your local DVD retailer.
It is certainly better than any other supposedly "original" movie in years, like that chunk o' shite The Others. The Others WOULD have been original if 2-3 other movies released recently hadn't had the same basic plot and ending.
I'd also like to send a shout out to Tony Jaymz for his review of Detroit Rock City, which is a VERY funny film that was generally ignored until it hit home video. You can currently pick it up on DVD for about $8 at Wal-Mart if you're interested.
As always, you can feel free to Drop me an e-mail, read the archives, buy me stuff, or buy yourself stuff at Highspots.com.
This may be a bit spotty because the sound on my tape sucks. Don’t be too surprised if you see “Shawn Michaels is an asshole purple-monkey-dishwasher.” somewhere in here.
Ken Shamrock Shoot Interview (3/31/02)
Background on his athletic career- When he was about 5 years old, his family moved from Georgia to the Napa Valley area of California. He eventually got in trouble and ended up in and out of group homes, as were all of his brothers (He doesn’t say why his family was split like this). The only times he felt good about himself was when he was competing physically, be it in fighting, football, or something else.
High school- He did amateur wrestling, swimming, softball, etc. He injured his neck while practicing wrestling and ended up in a halo for three months. School was hard for him because he was in special education to begin with and not a lot of emphasis was put on it outside of making a C average to play sports.
College- Several different colleges were looking at him for several different sports, including football and wrestling. Those opportunities got pulled from him when he broke his neck because the schools wash their hands of guys when they get injuries like that.
When did he realize he could make a career out of fighting? He tells a story about how his high school girlfriend went out with another guy once and he found out about it but, instead of kicking the guy’s ass he punched a window and broke it. A coach came up to him and told him that he needed to cut it out because he’d never go anywhere by fighting, which he made sure to bring up to him when he went to the reunion a few years ago. Seriously, though, he started becoming a professional fighter around the time he entered the UWF because he would get paid for it and quit going to jail.
When did he educate himself as a fighter? He learned more technique in the early 1990s when he joined the UWF. Many of the early ones were worked shoots, although they would shoot in the practice sessions.
He talks about learning a lot about shoot fighting when he was in Pancrase.
Street fighting- Most street fights are between guys of varying levels of brawling skill, so if you’re prepared you’re probably going to win.
Did he follow wrestling then? Not really, he only knew what he did because his dad in Georgia kept up with wrestling in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Tennessee.
What was the impressions he had of wrestling before he started? He wondered what the hell was wrong with the wrestlers for doing stuff that he said ten-year olds would do, like leg drops and selling moves.
How was Gene Anderson as a teacher? He learned a lot of old style wrestling. His first match was against Nelson Royal, who was old-school and would do a lot of holds, which he loved because that’s his kind of style.
How much of wrestling came to him naturally? He wonders if the WWF wanted him to fail by bringing him in and throwing him in a match on pay-per-view so quickly since it had been seven years since he’d had a wrestling match. He feels that most green guys usually get a lot of work at house shows and so forth before they’re thrown in front of a huge crowd both in the arena and on PPV. He got over very fast and picked it back up, though, so it all worked out.
Was it hard to separate shooting from wrestling? No, but it was hard to tone down his style to work with normal guys at times. He says submission guys didn’t have a problem with it but normal guys not used to being in stiff submission holds would freak out a bit.
What lead to him leaving the shoot fighting world for pro wrestling- He didn’t have any free time anymore because fighting consumed all of his free time for several years, so he decided on a change.
What happened with him and the Nasty Boys- They were all at a club and one of the Nastys started getting grabby with the girlfriend of a wrestler who wasn’t there. He eventually got pissed at it because he was looking bad because he was sitting there with those assholes while they were doing it, so he told them to quit it. He says Brian Knobbs pushed his head into the table, so he was about to beat Knobbs’ ass until the bouncer grabbed him and pulled him into the bathroom and told him to chill out. The Nastys had left while he was out of the room, but he knew where they were staying and pounded on their hotel door. Jerry Sags opened the door, after they refused to open the door, he kicked it in. He saw Knobbs passed out on the bed and that was the last thing he remembers. He’s heard that Sags hit him in the head with the phone and then the both kicked the shit out of him while he was knocked out.
The Nastys used to talk trash about how they’d kicked his ass when he was in UFC. When he was in the WWF, he ran across them when he and Billy Gunn were checking in at a hotel. From what he says, Saggs of them walked up next to him, said "Hi" to Billy, and turned to him only to hear “You better get the fuck away from me!” Knobbs spotted him before Sags did and had made his way to the exit as fast as he could. Sags tried to play it off like nothing had ever happened, but Ken was pissed about it.
Later, at the airport, Sags didn’t see him when he came up to a group of WWF guys and asked them “What the is Shamrock’s problem? He needs a chill pill.” At that point, Shamrock jumped over the bank of chairs he was sitting at and came at him. Sags turned his back to him and said “You hit me and it’s a felony.” That got all the anger out of his system because they’d been talking shit for so long about how they beat him up cleanly but yet they blatantly pussed out in front of all the WWF guys. He didn’t kick the shit out of them then, but he will some day when he runs into them again.
Buzz Sawyer- He met him when he was trying to get into the business. He went to Buzz’s school and was his try-out guy, by which I mean that guys who’d come to the school would go up against him in a tryout and end up looking like a pretzel after he would shoot on them. Buzz would tell him who wouldn’t be allowed to pass, so he’d just stretch the crap out of them until they quit. He was training for the Olympics at the time, so it was easy for him to kick the shit out of a bodybuilder that outweighed him by about 30 pounds. He was glad he worked with Buzz because he emphasized a style of wrestling that he loved.
The Olympic trials in 1988- He remembers going in there at the 220 class weighing 205 because he couldn’t find a way to gain weight safely, as he kept losing weight as he was training and he didn’t want to end up in a weight class below 200. He got a few matches into the trials when he faced off with a badass All American college wrestler. He took the guy down a few times but ended up getting tossed around by him, with the guy getting 15 points by doing three gutwrench suplexes in a short amount of time and the judges stopping the match due to a superior decision as a result. He didn’t like the points for moves thing, as he preferred to do mat wrestling and either keep guys in holds for points or to pin them for the win.
Dean Malenko- He met his brother Joe Malenko first in Japan. He was tagging with Doug Furnas and Dan Krofat (Phil LaFon) at the time against Joe, Kenta Kobashi, and someone else. He was only in the business for a few months, so after asking Joe about the spots he was calling a few times, Joe told him to tag out. Stan Hansen eventually pulled him aside and told him “This isn’t a shoot here… you need to learn how to work.” Furnas had to explain the Japanese style to him so that he could understand it was a hard work and not a shoot. As a result of that experience, he met Dean and Dean trained him how to work. They tagged together after that.
Giant Baba and Mrs. Baba- He had a match with Baba once and was told not to touch Baba but to bump for whatever he did. He remembers that the fans would pop HUGE for him even though he could barely walk into the ring.
Kenta Kobashi- “They call him Jet Fuel because he’s always going.”
Getting a tryout with the San Diego Chargers- He had an option at the time to either go to Japan full time or to do football and the scout told him that he wouldn’t be playing defense. He was upset at that because he wanted to play inside linebacker and felt he’d be better than the larger guys in that position who weren’t as fast but were equally strong.
Did Dean Malenko get him into Pancrase? Dean showed him some tapes when they were working against each other in the Carolinas. Those happened to be of the UWF (I believe he says this was the forebearer to Pancrase), which was a straight submission style organization, and he wanted to get involved. He started asking Dean how he could get involved with that and Dean got him a tryout in Japan with some of the guys he’d watched on the tape and was told they could use him. Three months later he was back in Japan.
Early thoughts on the federation- He remembers his first match being crazy because they fought in front of about 17,000 people. He didn’t really know submission holds and so forth at the time, so he winged the match. After it was over and he won, he started selling and the crowd started chanting his name, then he went in the locker room and they all kicked the shit out of him. The sound sucks here so its hard to make out, but I think the locker room thought he’d knocked out his opponent.
How much was a shoot and how much was a work? The UWF was all a work. He’s not at liberty to say how much of a work Pancrase or some of the other organizations were.
I’m skipping the memories of his Japanese shoot matches because the sound sucks and I have no clue about what he’s talking about anyway.
How was he approached by the UWC the first time? They approached him while he was in Japan and pitched how they were pulling champions out of all disciplines and federations and that they wanted him because he was the #1 contender in Pancrase.
Early thoughts on the UWC- He didn’t give himself much of a chance because he figured it would fall through. He also thought they’d ask people to work their matches but they never did.
How educated he was on the fighters? Not really at first, as he’d go “That’s a karate guy… I can take him. That’s a boxer, he’ll be standing up so I can DEFINITELY take him.” Etc. etc. etc. That was up until he faced Royce Gracie and Gracie got him in a chokehold with a piece of rope. He was more than slightly pissed that he was not allowed to wear wrestling shoes in the match because they could be used as a weapon but that Gracie was allowed to wear a gi (martial arts uniform) and choke him out with it. He was also pissed that they went from no-rules fights to ones with a time limit. He still beat down Gracie for the better part of 30 minutes the next time he faced him. He also implies that since the Gracie family bankrolled the federation that Royce was allowed to do whatever he wanted to in the ring and changed the rules to favor him as a result.
Is Royce Gracie overrated as a fighter? No, he was the only one who stepped up and proved he was the best. Now it’s different because people know what’s going on but he was the best for a while there.
Do guys today think that bigger is better? Yes, because that power is why he’s going in there today and getting his ass kicked in the ring. He’ll go in there at 210 and his opponent will be at 240 and, as a result, be able to whip the crap out of him when they connect with anything. He says that’s why there are weight classes and that it didn’t matter as much at first because no one really knew what they were doing, so the playing field was more even. That’s why Gracie doesn’t fight as much now, especially since he’s already got as much money as he needs.
Was there pressure from Pancrase not to fight in UFC? Yes, especially after the first one. They kept pressuring him but he would go into UFC and perform well. He finds it ironic that they pressured him on it but now they do the exact same thing over there. He says that the UFC announcers helped put Pancrase on the map in the US by announcing how he and several of the Japanese fighters who did well were all from that organization.
How did his brother Frank Shamrock get involved in UFC? Frank came to him and he gave him a tryout then trained him for months. He tried to keep Frank from doing too much to fast, but the company wanted him to be a big immediately because of the Shamrock name. There was never any pressure for them to fight each other, although he came up with the idea of them fighting when he would do his last fight for the company..
Facing Dan Severn- He doesn’t feel himself an authority on calling people overrated no matter what people have said about Dan. He feels Dan did well at Ultimate Ultimate #1 but that his attitude got him in trouble because believing your way is the only way pisses people off.
Memories of fighting Oleg Taktarov- He hit him at least twice where his eyes rolled back in his head, but Oleg just kept coming. He just kept doing that to him because he knew Oleg wouldn’t tap out no matter what.
Facing Dan Severn and did it hurt the UFC? It hurt UFC because it should have been a much better fight. He was slightly injured, so he had trouble attacking Dan, but he couldn’t back out of it because they were too close to fight time when he came up injured and they’d already promoted the hell out of it. He knew things were going bad when the fans started chanting “Let’s go Red Wings!” while he stood in the middle of the Octagon and Dan danced around him. If he was healthier, he’d probably have made a better attack.
More UFC stuff- The promoters would decide they wanted more action in the matches and would change the rules so that they got the desired result. Throwing punches was made illegal, but the UFC would never collect the fines they declared for it. He didn’t want to be on the cover of some magazine as the focus of someone’s “Shut down the UFC!” campaign, so he quit throwing punches in matches, even when mounted on a guy. That ended up causing some problems because the UFC starting having judges to make decisions and he lost a fight because the judge said he didn’t land enough punches, he asked “But aren’t punches illegal?”, and the judge started dancing around the issue. He eventually decided that his opponent had won because the guy had thrown one illegal punch and cut him above the eye.
Are there a lot of underground fights these days, like Fight Club? Yes, but he doesn’t really want to get involved with it.
Kimo- He faced him in Puerto Rico and it was hard to fight there because it was hot as hell, humid, and the ring was drenched. It was hart to get a grip on him as a result.
I skipped some UFC stuff here because I can’t hear a damn thing. Dave Dymond needs to cover this section in detail when he reviews this since I don’t know crap about MMA. Hell… he’s got a better copy of the shoot anyway.
What made him join the WWF- The UFC was getting cut from PPV and the money was going down. Also, after he and Royce Gracie left, there were no faces to build the promotion around and it hurt them as a result because people want to see at least one guy they know.
How was he treated in the locker room? Bret Hart trained with him and helped teach him how to integrate his moves into the WWF and told him not to change himself too much. He was also told that his legitimate fighting background wouldn’t mean crap to the guys unless they could trust him in the ring, and that had to be earned.
His match with Vader- He remember that Vader’s gloves stunk. He didn’t realize how stiff he was in there with him because he broke Vader’s nose with his knee. He wondered why Vader broke from the script at that point because he didn’t realize that he’d actually hurt Vader and, as a result, Vader was PISSED.
After a couple of months of working with people then asking them for feedback about the matches, he found that his wrestling style had improved and that he was getting trust from the other guys. At that point, he started to get matches with the big names like Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, The Rock, etc.
They then cut to a match from Japan, from the Pancrase organization. I don’t know crap about shoot fighting or worked shoots, so I won’t pretend to be an expert here. I’ll let Dave Dymond cover that. Shamrock wins after putting a leglock on his opponent, who taps out. It’s about 20 minutes long.
Working with Bret Hart- One of the best workers in the business. His style is all about wrestling rather than flash and style.
The 10-man match at the Calgary Stampede PPV- It was fun but he didn’t like doing tag matches because too many people are involved. All the guys involved were good workers, though, and the match was okay. (This was Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, Davey Boy Smith, and Brian Pillman vs. Steve Austin, Shamrock, Goldust, and the Road Warriors, in case you were wondering. GREAT match despite how Shamrock underplays it here.)
Matches with Davey Boy Smith- They were interesting and Davey was easy to work with. He moved well for a big guy and was very over. He didn’t like the dogfood match, though.
The Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart fistfight backstage- He doesn’t know what to think because most of the Bret-Shawn and Bret-Vince stuff went on behind closed doors.
Shawn Michaels- They had a match where Shawn sold for him and made him look like a star, so he doesn’t really have anything bad to say about him. He says Shawn was always respectful and gave him tips on what he should and shouldn’t do while fighting him. (Considering Shawn is supposedly responsible for Shamrock’s VERY loud stage voice, I wouldn’t say he was very respectful. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, Shamrock will SCREAM his spots during mid-match, the most famous of which was at Royal Rumble 1999 where he was yelling to “Ryan Shamrock” about how blood was thicker than water before practically screaming HIT ME, which she then did. Shawn supposedly got him to start talking loud in the ring in order to show that Ken couldn’t work a match and that he would be calling everything for him)
How was he approached with the idea of wrestling Vader in FMW? They came up with the idea and pitched it to him, but he wasn’t too interested in it because he was having some health problems at that time, especially with his lungs. Much like his UFC match with Severn, he went along with it even though he shouldn't have and ended up getting powerbombed by Vader several times, coughing up blood in the process. He took a couple weeks off after that so his lungs could heal up.
What are his thoughts about Shawn Michaels supposedly sabotaging their TV matches by missing spots on purpose? He didn’t see that at all.
The Montreal screwjob at Survivor Series 97- He thought it was all a big work, especially since everyone but Davey Boy, Owen, Pat Patterson, Gerald Brisco, and Vince McMahon were chased from the locker room where Bret ended up smacking Vince around.
Matches with Mick Foley- Very difficult to work with. He was one of the best guys in the history of the business and was infamous for doing crazy stuff, but their styles didn’t mesh at all since Mick did a lot of high spots and he did a lot of mat-based submissions, in addition to Mick having limited mobility. Their hardcore matches were fine but he preferred doing wrestling to hitting Mick with stuff.
Introducing “Ryan Shamrock” as his sister- He wasn’t given a choice, as the office told him that she was going to be his sister. His first thoughts were “I hope she’s good looking” and not a 200-pound female shoot fighter.
Vince Russo- Very intelligent man who put together some good angles. He was always open-minded and would listen, as well as easy to work for. (Man, I don’t think he spent a lot of time around him… Jim Cornette and Shawn Michaels both talk about how Russo would piss and moan if any part of his ideas were called stupid or if anyone but Vince McMahon told him he had to change something)
The Rock- His favorite matches in the WWF were with him. Their angle that they worked was good and it made the matches better as a result.
Did he think Rock would be as big as he would? Once the WWF gave Rock the mic and feuded the two of them together, things just took off for him. Rock was a heel and everyone loved to hate him and he got over as a result by working against him for so long.
Dan Severn in the WWF- He thinks it’s hard for people to make the transition from shooting to working and it was tough to do as a result. He thinks the worst thing you can do is pair a new guy with someone he sees as an equal because they won’t listen to anything you say. He also says that once he heard Dan talk, he said “Someone get this guy a manager STAT!” Dan’s not a bad guy but his personality rubs people the wrong way. He says one night when they were working together, he took his shirt off before a match and then Dan tried to do the same thing but ended up putting it back on. It turned out that Dan didn’t look NEARLY as chiseled as him and the referee told Dan to put it back on, as the office felt it hurt the push they were trying to give him for him to appear out of shape.
Brawl For All- He thought it would be fun to watch but didn’t want in because there weren’t any top guys that he could go after. Instead of fighting Steve Austin at some point, the biggest names he’d have to face would be Bart Gunn and “Dr. Death” Steve Williams. They didn’t want him in it at first then they tried to put him in as an alternate but he turned it down because he wanted to keep the trust of the wrestlers when he has to do wrestling matches instead of shoot matches. He didn’t want to go in there and destroy all those guys with no training.
Sidenote- Henry Godwinn and Savio Vega actually had to retire due to injuries sustained in the Brawl For All competition because they were not formally trained in shoot fighting.
How much involvement was he allowed to have with the Lion’s Den (his training dojo)? “Well, they did a Lion’s Den match...” Pretty much, they let him do whatever he wanted as long as it didn’t mess with their booking.
How much harder was the road schedule in the WWF vs. before? He was away from his kids and it was hard. He was also getting tired of travelling by the end and wanted to go back to fighting, so he left.
Who did he learn the most from in the WWF- It’s hard to say because he learned a lot from Bret Hart in particular, but he’d also learned from Austin, The Rock, Undertaker, Triple H, etc.
Did WCW try to sign him after he left the WWF? No, and he wasn’t interested in going there at the time. He also feels that the WWF may not want him back now that they have so much talent that they’ve acquired from WCW going out of business.
How come he never had a big program with Austin? For one thing, Rock was getting real hot. For another, guys like Shawn Michaels and Mick Foley were also top-rate guys and were a better fit for a feud with Austin at that time. He could have matches with Austin but not be able to work an angle with him properly due to his mic skills. He makes a big deal about how his mic skills were sub-par, which is definitely gives him credibility in my book because he’s not being the average egotistical asshole who does one of these.
What was the deal between him and Curtis Hughes? He was supposed to have an angle with Chris Jericho, who’d just entered the federation, and Curtis Hughes was playing Jericho’s bodyguard. During an angle where he was on the mat, Hughes kept kicking him in the head and shoulders stiffly, so he asked them to ease up. Hughes didn’t, so Shamrock told Jericho “Tell him to kick me in the BODY next time or I’m going to get up and beat his ass.” Hughes then kicked him in the head again, so he got up and was about to beat the shit out of him when Jericho jumped in the way and took one for the team. He shouldn’t have lost his temper, but Hughes had worked long enough to know better.
Did Rock, Austin, or Triple H ever flaunt their popularity with the crowd in front of the locker room? “Hunter’s very heelish, but he didn’t change.” Rock and Austin were always cool, though.
Was it a good idea for him to leave the WWF? Yes, because he would rather be back in shoot fighting than wonder “How good would I have been if I had gone back?”
There’s a LOT of time left on the actual interview, but it’s mostly shoot-fighting and I can’t hear any of it. Even if I did hear it, I’d probably be lost because I’m not familiar with the subject matter. This is yet another section for Dave Dymond to cover should he ever decide to review this.
Just about the only things I can pick out of the thirty minutes or so of the actual interview are
1. He wants to feud with Kurt Angle if he ever returns to the WWF
2. His Ultimate Ultimate fight against Dan Severn was one of the bigger mistakes he made in his career.
The first match appears to be a Pancrase match in HORRIBLE condition and I can’t even begin to guess who his opponent is. Shamrock gets the tap out with what appears to be the Kataha Jame (which I've probably misspelled), more readily known as the Tazzmission on this side of the Pacific. This was about 20 minutes long.
The second match is a tag match from Japan and I’m not sure if this is from Pancrase as well. It’s joined in progress. Shamrock gets pinned with a bridged suplex to lose the match. It appeared to be a Fisherman’s Suplex similar to what Perry Saturn and Curt Hennig use. This ran about 10 minutes.
The third match is also from Japan and appears to be from Pancrase as well. Shamrock wins in a few minutes by getting a pin on his opponent while he was mounting him. If I actually see a match on here where I can recognize more than one person, I’ll be damned surprised.
Well shit… Here’s one right now where I recognize FOUR people involved. This is Dan Severn and Ken Shamrock with “Ryan Shamrock” in a tag match against Kenji Mutoh and Takada(?). It’s VERY weird seeing Mutoh without the face paint or long dark hair that I remember from his 1989 run in WCW. Takada suplexes Severn onto his head to get the three count. LONG match… This, combined with the long entrances, take up about 40 minutes.
Fifth is another Pancrase match. Shamrock wins after he locks the Tazzmission on his opponent.
If you’re a big Mixed Martial Arts person, THIS is the shoot for you. As for the wrestling fans, it’s kind of interesting but there are better ones out there. I will say this though… get a GOOD version of this. The sound on mine was completely screwed, so I’m lucky I got as much done as I did. I left several large sections of this out due to the poor sound quality of my tape. I will say this much… if I ever run out of shoots to review, this will be one of the first I revisit provided I get a better copy of the tape by then.
Even though this one was slightly abbreviated due to tape problems on my end, it was still good for what I got out of it.
Highly Recommended for MMA fans.
Recommended for everyone else.