Where Are They Now?: Ken Shamrock

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October 23, 2013

That confidence swayed Ken from signing with WCW and several organizations in Japan and towards WWE. Shamrock was given an unprecedented stage to showcase his skills as a fighter and a wrestler. His expertise as a grappler made him a perfect fit to referee a Submission Match between Bret “Hit Man” Hart and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin at WrestleMania 13.

Watch Shamrock officiate Hart vs. Austin

“I was completely in awe of what they did in that ring,” Shamrock said. “It made me a complete believer that wrestling is not for wimps.”

Shamrock was thrust into the spotlight almost immediately upon his 1997 debut. He was given a No Holds Barred Exhibition to showcase his fighting skills, and took on the vicious Vader in his first official bout. Shamrock was almost immediately a threat to any champion in WWE.

Watch Shamrock's debut match against Vader

“It was awesome,” Shamrock said of his early days in WWE. “It was great to know that they had enough confidence in me, that I would be able to learn from these guys.”   

Still, Shamrock felt a little unwelcome from some Superstars, who thought the fighter hadn’t earned his place in the company.

“I don’t blame them,” he said. “Guys that came in before me took advantage of it, didn’t respect [the opportunities], but I did and I really appreciated that. I tried to make that known that I felt it was a privilege.”

 Shamrock shot up the ranks of WWE. By the end of 1997, he had challenged Shawn Michaels for the WWE Championship on pay-per-view and found himself in a heated rivalry with The Rock over the Intercontinental Title. He defeated The Great One at Royal Rumble 1998 for the title, only to have the decision reversed when the referee found brass knuckles that had been planted on him.

Watch Shamrock vs. The Rock

“Come on, I won that,” Shamrock joked when asked about the match. “If only I had some backup.”

Though The Rock was barely into his second year as a wrestler, Shamrock credits his battles with The Brahma Bull with teaching him a great deal.

“It was great,” he said. “Working with him is what almost got me to that next level.”

Shamrock’s incomparable intensity, his dominating MMA-inspired offense and his bone-snapping Ankle Lock made him one of the more memorable stars of The Attitude Era, and an influence on future Superstars for years to come.

Still, while Shamrock captured the Intercontinental Title in a one-night tournament, as well as the World Tag Team Titles, WWE’s biggest prize eluded him.

“I thought that, with the matches I had with The Rock, I was going to move up and go after him for the WWE Title,” Shamrock explained. “For some reason, that never happened.”

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