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Catching up with Steve Blackman: Part 2
Steve Blackman can still recall the sight of Shane McMahon plummeting 50 feet from the side of a steel structure to the ground below.
"He took a hell of a fall," Blackman said. "And that crazy guy took it backwards."
The intense competitor has good reason to remember the wild moment — after all, he was the man that sent Shane on this dangerous plunge. (PHOTOS)
It was SummerSlam 2000 and the two rivals were waging a brutal war over the Hardcore Title. Although Shane had previously defeated Blackman for the championship with the help of Test and Albert, he was on his own in this contest and running for his life.
The chase led the two men to the top of a massive set at the end of the entrance ramp where they jockeyed for position on the perilous structure. With the help of a kendo stick, Blackman won out and sent Shane crashing to the floor below.
The Lethal Weapon wasn't done there, however. He was about to unleash an elbow drop that the WWE Universe would not soon forget.
"I just took a breath and said, 'Here we go," Blackman recalled. "I mean, there was no turning back at that point."
Brutal and breathtaking, the climax of this match would be remembered as one of the most shocking moments in WWE history and, in many ways, was the pinnacle of the short-lived Hardcore Championship. The title, which had been the focal point of many wild matches between the likes of Crash Holly and The Mean Street Posse, suddenly felt like a championship worth fighting for.
"I loved doing Hardcore Matches," Blackman said. "I had a lot of good matches with Bob Holly, Kane, a bunch of guys."
As a martial artist, the Pennsylvania native was especially effective in this anything-goes environment where he could use the dangerous weapons he'd trained with for years.
"I tried to come up with different ways to use weapons," Blackman said. "Different things you could do with a garbage can, doing spinning backfists with the lids, using my Singapore canes on people."
After dominating the Hardcore division for most of 2000, Blackman formed a short-lived tag team with Too Cool's Grand Master Sexay. Eventually, though, Blackman took a break from the ring to heal a nagging neck injury. But when the damage proved to be too much for the Superstar to keep competing, he parted ways with World Wrestling Entertainment in 2002.
It wouldn't take long, though, for Blackman to start on his new career path.
"I had a lot of guys asking me if I would train them in [mixed martial arts] and I kept putting it off," Blackman said. "But after a year of getting back on track, I finally decided to open up my own gym."
Utilizing his years of training in jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai kickboxing and various other disciplines, the 245-pounder took advantage of the burgeoning popularity of combat sports and began working with a few local students. As MMA's success boomed, so did Blackman's.
"I trained some guys in my garage and one thing led to another and now I have a huge, 5,000-square foot spot in a warehouse."
Located in Harrisburg, Pa., the massive gym is loaded with all the training systems an MMA student would need and even houses a full-sized cage for sparring. And as the school's owner and head trainer, Blackman gives all his warriors hands-on lessons.
"I do mostly jiu-jitsu instructing and wrestling drills," he explained. "Then I brought one guy in to help me do some boxing training."
With 80 to 100 students regularly enrolled in Blackman's school, the former Superstar works long hours, but only the strongest pupils make it in his class.
"Everyone thinks they're a fighter until they come in and do a class of boxing and jiu-jitsu," Blackman said. "Nine times out of ten people just don't have it in them to want to train that hard everyday."
The fighters that can hack it with The Lethal Weapon have a chance to test their skills in front of an audience through Blackman's own Pennsylvania Fighting Championship.
"I started doing my own shows a year ago," Blackman revealed. "I put all the fights together, make the card, book the building, all that stuff."
Regularly held at the Zembo Shrine Center in Blackman's native Harrisburg, the shows have drawn a strong fanbase thanks to the hard-hitting action Blackman's students provide.
"I did three shows this year and we've had pretty good turnouts," he said.
While most of his time is spent in the smashmouth world of contact sports, Blackman enjoys a more relaxed home life with his wife and their young daughter.
"All those years on the road, I didn't think I would be a dad," Blackman said. "It's quite a difference for me now being married and having a kid."
And while he hasn't stepped through WWE ropes since Raw's 15th Anniversary show in 2007, The Lethal Weapon doesn't completely rule out a return to the ring.
"Some days when I feel really good I get tempted — especially when I see Bret Hart on Raw," Blackman admitted. "I miss being out there."
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