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Wrestling / Ken Shamrock

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The World's Most Dangerous Man

"I will get my respect or I will die."

Kenneth Wayne "Ken" Shamrock (born Kenneth Wayne Kilpatrick; February 11, 1964) is an American retired professional wrestler and mixed martial artist best known for his work in WWE and the UFC. He actually started as a pro wrestler, debuting in the South Atlantic Pro Wrestling promotion in 1989, under the name "Mr. Wrestling" Vince Torelli. This led him to All Japan Pro Wrestling, and he would go back and forth between SAPW and Japanese "shoot-style" promotions such as Universal Wrestling Federation and PWFG until he walked away from wrestling for MMA. He competed for Pancrase and was on the first UFC event and would compete regularly for them until he returned to wrestling in 1997, this time for WWE. Over his time in WWE, he would hold the WWE Intercontinental Title once, the WWE World Tag Team Title once with the Big Bossman and win the 1998 King of the Ring Tournament. He returned to MMA in 2000 and went back and forth between the two. In 2002, he signed with the new NWA-TNA promotion, and was crowned the new NWA World Heavyweight Champion at NWA TNA #1. He has also been a trainer and was a coach on The Ultimate Fighter. His achievements in MMA include winning the UFC Superfight Title, the King of Pancrasists Open-weight Title and, along with Royce Gracie, being one of the first inductees into the UFC Hall of Fame.

"Ultimate, Dangerous Tropes":

  • Aborted Arc: Shamrock was going to fight Mark Hall in the PRIDE Grand Prix tournament capitalizing on their storyline together (see Bullying a Dragon below), but negotiations fell short and he faced Alexander Otsuka instead.
  • The Ace: He was inhumanly strong, skilled in grappling and no slouch in striking, ripped to the gills, and over all this, an American. This naturally made him extremely marketable both in Japan and United States.
  • Arch-Enemy: Dan "The Beast" Severn, both in MMA and in WWF. In MMA, Royce Gracie, Tito Ortiz and Mark Hall.
  • Audience Surrogate: Type 3. For the early era of UFC, Ken was the audience's most familiar figure. Not only he was American and had a action film hero build, he was the only fighter who knew what he was doing aside from the weird Brazilian guys who had came to break the ground of traditional martial arts. To increase the mystic value, Shamrock even came accompanied by an inscrutable Japanese mentor who had taught him mysterious fighting techniques just like Mr. Miyagi, and he soon got involved in a real life martial arts feud motivated by revenge against the Brazilian fighters. Shamrock was basically the American Ninja.
  • Badass Bystander: As the special guest referee for the Submission Match between Bret Hart and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIII. Shamroch had no bias towards either man and called the match completely fair, but after the Face/Heel Double-Turn when the newly-heel Bret began beating down the unconscious Austin, Shamrock warned Hart to stop, then suplexed him across the ring when the Hitman ignored him.
  • Badass Teacher: He owns the Lion's Den MMA Gyms and has trained fighters like Vernon "Tiger" White, Guy Mezger, Frank Shamrock, Maurice Smith, Jerry Bohlander, Tra Telligman, Pete Williams, Mikey Burnett, Oleg Taktarov, Mark Coleman, Jason Delucia, Roy Nelson, Joe Hurley and many others.
  • Balls of Steel: Literally. Dan Severn tried to get out of a guillotine choke by low blowing Ken, but under his purple speedos Shamrock wore a muay thai metal cup, and all Dan did was hurt his hand. Felix Mitchell was supposedly more Genre Savvy and tried to stick his hand in Ken's tights and remove the cup, but Ken didn't let him.
  • The Big Guy / The Brute: Was arguably one for Pancrase. In WWE, he was one for The Corporation.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: During the preparation for his infamous match with The Rock, Shamrock told Johnson to not hit him high on the head with a steel chair. He instead asked for it across the face. And told Johnson if he didn't put his back into it and really smack him good, he wasn't gonna sell it. Rock obliged, and Shamrock subsequently got knocked out cold.
  • Blood Knight: He loved to fight, since the first minute on his fight with Don Nakaya Nielsen to the last minute of the post-prime fight he should not have taken.
  • Bullying a Dragon:
    • In 1990, before Shamrock became a fighter, the Nasty Boys encountered him and his date in a bar and started sexually harassing her, eventually attacking Ken before the bouncers broke it off. In a fit of Honor Before Reason, Shamrock wasn't willing to leave it aside, so he later went to the hotel where the Boys were staying at, kicked the door down and attacked one of them. Turning it into a two-one when, they knocked Ken out In the Back with a steel-plated phone, stomped him until breaking his sternum and nose, and tried to throw him out a second floor window before Col. Robert Parker stopped them. Years later, with Shamrock turned into a MMA fighter and WWF star, he encountered the Boys again in an airport, and this time they weren't so confident to engage him, so nothing happened at the end despite Ken being eager to pay it back.
    • Back when they were in PWFG, Kazuo Takahashi broke the script in a match and shot on Shamrock. Perhaps predictably, the matter ended in ninety seconds with a soccer kick to the face of the Japanese. Ironically, they turned into Vitriolic Best Buds when they later became sparring partners in Pancrase.
    • Apparently, when Shamrock arrived to WWF, Big Show decided to rib Shamrock by bearhugging him from the back and hoist him up at the saying "what you gonna do now, UFC boy?" Shamrock answered the question by escaping the hold and going for a flying kneebar from his back. Show panicked and immediately apologized.
    • In 2000, Mark Hall supposedly accused Shamrock of trying to snatch sponsors from small shows, and even telephoned his wife and made her cry with foul language. Then, when the two met in a crowd at the King of the Cage 4 event, Hall tried to intimidate Shamrock and even attacked him. The thing was followed with Ken painting the arena red with Hall and the police arresting the latter because the 100 people of the event had seen him starting the brawl.
    • A rumor has UFC champion Mark Coleman sparring with Ken and taking some liberties with him, only for Ken to get angry and knock him down quite severely.
    • Shamrock has also ended up receiving the shorter end of the stick a few times, though. During his match against Vader at the WWF In Your House 15: A Cold Day in Hell PPV in May 1997, Shamrock (who hadn't wrestled in a while) came out really stiff against Vader, laying into his legs with brutal kicks then cornering him and delivering blows and knees to the head. Eventually Vader (no gentle touch himself) had enough of this abuse, wound up a big one, and hit Shamrock so hard his face nearly ended up on the back of his skull.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Ken once had an MMA match against Kazuyuki Fujita, a Japanese fighter notorious for his slow, clumsy fighting style and Hard Head. Shamrock unloaded on Fujita, who took the horrendous beating seemingly without ill effect, until Shamrock’s cornermen threw in the towel because he was exerting himself so much he was starting to have palpitations and was at risk of a heart attack.
  • Challenge Seeker: His Kickboxing match with Frank Lobman was his own way of challenging himself to get better at striking.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: According to Maurice Smith, Ken was one of the strongest guys from his time, even more than orthodox wrestlers like Mark Coleman.
  • Combat Commentator: Provided commentary on a few past Pancrase fights on the 1996 Kings of Pancrase PPV.
  • Crazy-Prepared: He made sure to wear a steel cup for his fights in UFC, and after he lost to Royce by gi choke, he brought a judoka to the Lion's Den and equipped everybody with gis in order to prepare for the rematch.
  • Dancing Is Serious Business: Shamrock's apprentice Vernon White worked as a bartender and stripper while he was training under Ken, and according to him, Shamrock sometimes joined the show.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: His father left when he was five. His mother married a man who abused Ken. Ken spent time in foster homes, juvenile hall and group homes. That isn't Kayfabe, either. He was legally adopted by his foster father and took his last name.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Back in UWF, Ken once had to grapple for real with Duane Koslowski, a wrestler from the Olympic Team, in order to settle down who would win their impending worked match. After Ken made him tap out twice via heel hook, they became friends and Ken started to coach him in submission wrestling.
  • Determinator: Probably to his own chagrin nowadays, but he came back to MMA after a serious injury that made him change his fighting style and didn’t bring him as much success.
  • The Dreaded: Back in his prime in MMA, he was feared even by his own training partners for his strength and skill.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: He actually first wrestled for WWE at a house show in 1989, jobbing to Barry Horowitz of all people.
  • Finishing Move: Ankle lock.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Suffered one in the WWF when Curtis Hughes kicked him stiffly in the neck, aggravating an old injury.
    • The old neck injury also caused him lose an athletic scholarship in either football or amateur wrestling for college.
  • Gimmick Matches: At SummerSlam 98, he defeated Owen Hart in a "Lion's Den Match," which was held in a modified UFC-style octagon. At Fully Loaded 99, he defeated Steve Blackman in an "Iron Circle Match," which was a hardcore match where they were surrounded by cars in a parking garage. Shamrock won by choking out Blackman with a chain.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: He worked both roles in SAPW and in WWE.
  • Heroic Build: In his younger days. He actually still has it, just not as impressive at his peak.
  • Hit Me, Dammit!: During his Intercontinental Title match against Val Venis at WWF In Your House 27: St. Valentine's Day Massacre, Ryan Shamrock was supposed to slap him but missed her cue, with Ken attempting to salvage the situation by audibly yelling, "SLAP ME!"
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: During his first fight against Royce Gracie on UFC 1, Shamrock got two iterations of the trope. The first one was that he dropped backwards to leglock Gracie without knowing he had Royce's gi wrapped around his hand, which accidentally pulled his opponent on top of him. And the second and worst one was that he insisted on locking the hold without figuring he had to look for gi chokes, which let Gracie to do exactly that and submit him.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • As said above, Ken once attacked the Nasty Boys at once, as they had been sexually harassing his girlfriend, and they almost killed him as a result.
    • His first fight with Royce Gracie ended after he tapped out and admitted it to the referee who didn't see it, instead of taking the opportunity to continue the fight.
    • His second fight with Dan Severn had a special ruleset that if either man did striking they would be fined, though in reality this was announced just to allow the fight to happen and they were both told not to take it seriously and go nuts. Shamrock at the time feared he could get arrested if he broke the new rule and also because he wanted to set a good example for the troubled boys from his father's foster home as they would be watching him, which resulted in a split decision win for Severn as Ken refused to strike while Severn did.
  • Hot-Blooded: Has described himself as will to fight anybody at the drop of a hat for any reason.
  • I Know Karate: Specifically Japanese shoot-style MMA, which is based around Catch Wrestling and other martial arts. He also did amateur wrestling in high school.
  • Initiation Ceremony: The Lion's Den's entrance exam was notoriusly savage for American standards (not for Japanese ones, as he brought it from Pancrase). Shamrock would make his students spar with him, and he would eat them up until they gave up and left or he accepted them as tough guys. After a time, as Shamrock realized it was a legally unsafe method, he changed to a marine boot camp-like exercise ritual. As Vernon White put it:
    "He made me do 500 push-ups, sit-ups, leg-lifts, and squats, and then I had to clean the gym. Then I came back and had to kickbox with him, and again he made me do 500 push-ups, sit-ups, leg lifts, and squats, and after that I was in."
  • Insult Backfire: Shamrock's threat to beat Tito Ortiz "into a living death" caused Tito to burst into laughter. It's one of MMA's most famous groaners.
  • King of Beasts: He has a chain of MMA schools called the Lion's Den.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: To Ryan Shamrock, who luckily didn't like to travel.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Aside from a great technical worker trained by Funaki and Suzuki, Ken was incredibly strong, which made his game more dangerous than the accustomed slim grapplers of Pancrase.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Had long hair when he debuted in UWF Newborn, he cut it short before he competed in Pancrase.
  • Mighty Whitey: The first one in Pancrase,. His losses there were either works or under special conditions like his kickboxing match with kickboxing champion Frank Lobman, and according to Shamrock, his first fight with Minoru Suzuki had an agreement between the two of them that Ken wouldn't strike him as Suzuki was very injury prone.
  • Military Brat: He was born at Robins Air Force Base in Macon, GA.
  • Noodle Incident: It was never explained why he put so much enthusiasm into beating up Billy Gunn. Granted, he put a lot of enthusiasm into everything he did, but, for some reason Gunn seemed to bring out something extra in him.
  • Only in It for the Money: Turned down a match for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, one of the most prestigious titles in pro wrestling, for a special guest referee spot in WWE because Vince was offering more money than Inoki. This was arguably his entire attitude in WWE, he had already proven himself a legit Badass in a "real" combat sport, and had no problems being treated like a B-lister in "fake" wrestling as long as he was getting paid.
  • The One Who Wears Shoes: He liked to wear wrestling shoes when possible in the cage. One of his complains about the first UFC event was that he wasn’t allowed to wear shoes while Royce got to fight in his gi.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: He defeated The Rock to win the 1998 King of the Ring Tournament... the same night as the Hell in a Cell match between Mankind and The Undertaker
  • The Power of Hate: Has stated that he has to psych himself up into hating his opponents before his fights, as that is how he fights best.
  • Power Stable:
  • Real Men Love Jesus: Is a born-again Christian. He also made a documentary on his life and faith with filmmaker Darren Wilson of WP Films (formerly Wanderlust Productions) who is known for his Christian-based documentaries.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: He wore purple trunks for his Superfight against Dan Severn at UFC 6.
  • Red Baron: "The World's Most Dangerous Man", "One Punch Shamrock" (in his toughman contest days), "The Ultimate Hero" (in Japan after his UFC fights), "The Lion", "The Rock" (in his early UFC days, apparently he owned the rights to that name in the WWF but let Dwayne Johnson use it for free).
  • Ring Oldies: He's still wrestling in 2020, appearing at Impact Wrestling's Slammiversary event teaming with Sami Callihan in an unsuccessful attempt to beat The North for their Tag Team Championships. He's 56 and still a scary, scary guy.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After being beaten by Royce Gracie at UFC 1, Shamrock went Super-Persistent Predator for him and according to Lion’s Den alumni, he was obsessed with beating him, with even mentioning his name got his blood boiling. He dropped out of the UFC 3 tournament since Royce got too battered by Kimo and it was only after their draw in the superfight of UFC 5 that he finally chilled out.
  • Sadist Teacher: Ken was known as a incredibly harsh teacher, always seeking to break his trainees until they learned not to fear and were fit to wage war in the ring. Mikey Burnett recalls how, if you were caught in a choke by Ken while rolling, you would get choked out completely (they eventually had to establish a rule that a trainee "only" could be choked out thrice a day). While his methods did produce tough as nails fighters, his methods also made his pupils more liable to get injured in training.
  • Screaming Warrior: "GET OUT OF MY WAY!", after The British Bulldog shoved dog food in Ken's mouth during their match at SummerSlam 97.
  • Surpassed the Teacher: Defeated his mentor Funaki at the first main event in Pancrase. Shamrock recalls it as a very special match, because he had never tapped out him or merely dominated him in the gym and the victory took Ken by surprise.
  • Took a Level in Badass: After his defeat at the hands of Royce Gracie, he developed a slower, more controlling grappling style in order to counter Royce’s jiu-jitsu. He arguably dominated Pancrase thanks to this change in style.
  • Torture Always Works: He once applied an ankle lock to Christian to force him to reveal the location of Stephanie McMahon. He only had the hold on for a few seconds before Christian was screaming the truth to Shamrock to get him to break the hold.
  • Training from Hell: Apparently, what it's like to train under him. Shamrock himself passed one under Yoshiaki Fujiwara in Japan.
  • Unconscious Objector: Said that he experienced some thing like this in his fight with Don Frye. After a punch from Frye, he claims that he blacked out and had no idea how he managed to take down Frye and put him in a leglock.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Did this with Royce Gracie at UFC 1, despite getting advice about him from Jason DeLucia before their first fight, Ken didn't take him seriously going into the fight and paid for it come fight time.
  • Underwear of Power: Always wore the standard wrestling briefs as his match attire.
  • The Un-Favourite:
    • Karl Gotch never liked Ken and Frank Shamrock, considering they were more streetfighters than wrestlers, and believed they should not have been pushed so much in Pancrase. He also disliked Ken because of his usage of performance enhancing drugs, which was Serious Business for Gotch since he developed his own physique naturally and thought Ken was taking a shortcut and therefore unworthy.
    • Yoshiaki Fujiwara had the same opinion, but being a famously Nice Guy, was at least more delicate about it.
  • Unrelated Brothers: He's unrelated to his foster brother and MMA fighter Frank Shamrock. In Kayfabe, Ryan Shamrock (played by Alicia Webb) is his sister.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Subverted. While his technique was nowhere near the level of guys like Funaki and Suzuki, Ken was not slouch neither, but it was his very superior physique which allowed him to outmuscle everybody in Pancrase and dominate on the ground.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Whenever Shamrock "snapped," not even an entire locker room of officials could stop him from putting the hurt on the unfortunate victim.
  • Ur-Example: The first King of Pancrase titleholder and the first foreign champion in a Japanese MMA promotion.
  • Worked Shoot: Ken had a long career in Japanese shoot-style promotions, which mean matches designed to look like MMA fights, and eventually a longer career in Pancrase, a MMA company famous for its relaxation at the time of host worked fights to promotional purposes. Shamrock has stated he fought those predetermined fights for the business's sake.
    • His famous fight against Matt Hume, which ended in a spectacular northern lights suplex dropped into a kimura, was actually an exhibition accorded among them due to Hume getting injured before the bout.
    • The second fight against Masakatsu Funaki is believed to be a work in order to rebuild Funaki's reputation, which got damaged after losing to Ken at the first Pancrase event, and also to preserve Ken before his expected fights in the upcoming UFC 3. However this is contested by Ken in his podcast interview with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin where Ken states unequivocally that all his fights with Funaki were legit, while being super shady about the Suzuki fight below.
    • Ken was told to throw his second match with Minoru Suzuki in order to drop to him the King of Pancrase title, as Shamrock would compete later against Dan Severn (former UWF-i wrestler) in UFC and Pancrase could not take the risk of their champion losing to a wrestler belonging to a worked wrestling promotion.
    • Ken worked a Pancrase style match in WWF against his student Vernon White. It was billed as an exhibition match, but during the match White "tried to turn it into something it wasn't" and "shoot" kicked Shamrock, causing Shamrock to snap and knock him unconscious with ground n' pound strikes. In actuality the entire match was worked, and the point was to build up how dangerous Shamrock was when he 'snapped' or 'got in the zone.'
    • He dabbled into this during his feud with the Undertaker. In one promo he said that Undertaker was taking his occultism too far, and threatened to "beat some reality into Mark." The Undertaker's real name is Mark Calaway.
  • Wrestling Doesn't Pay: Subverted. He took up pro wrestling because MMA was not paying enough.
  • Wrestling Family: Or MMA Family; his foster brother Frank is also a MMA fighter. He also has a blood brother Robbie "The Cheetah" Kilpatrick who briefly trained at the Lion's Den and fought in MMA as well.