by Mark Wincott
The queen of the point, Ronda Rousey signs with the WWE, thus keeping up the love affair of MMA and Pro Wrestling. But, how many stars have made this transition successful?
Time for the obligatory Brock Lesnar mention. Lesnar’s the architype of crossing the two disciplines successfully. He’s a big-league draw, a money maker h gets fans watching, he does this in pro wrestling and MMA. The NCAA wrestling champions aggression and beast like build was a cert to be the next big thing in WWE, he then left. In 2008 Brock Lesnar started his Mixed Martial Arts reign winning the UFC Heavyweight belt defeating Randy Couture. In 2012 he re-signed with the WWE as the beast incarnate to end The Undertakers Wrestlemania streak. He’s still WWE universal champion….he may make that move back to the octagon. Never say never.
Current Bellator Heavyweight fighter Bobby Lashley (15-2) bounces from MMA to Pro Wrestling. A former amateur wrestling champ has fought in Titan, Strikefore and Shark Fights, plying his wrestling ability to the cage. But, Lashley still performs in the world of professional wrestling. He signed a development contract with WWE and became ECW champion, US champion the man Donald Trump chose to battle on his behalf (hair vs hair)…mmmm interesting. In 2008 Lashley left WWE and worked at AAA, and later TNA, winning numerous belts, forming factions. In January 2018 Lashley left TNA as many have done. His stock’s risen over the years, especially his undefeated streak with Bellator. Will we see Lashley return to the WWE for a feud with the Beast incarnate? Excited?
Former UFC title contender Chael Sonnen takes to the mic like a fish takes to water. The original gangster announced at UFC 136 “Anderson Silva..you absolutely suck”. Chael Sonnen brought trash talking to the forefront of MMA. Singing with Global Force Wrestling as an expert analyst, the West Linn, Oregon bad guy teamed with legendary announcer Jim Ross for an MMA event. Colour commentary is second nature to the bad guy, at present the former Welterweight and Middleweight fighter is in the throes of Bellator’s Heavyweight tournament, defeating Quentin ‘Rampage’ Jackson.
Billed as the ‘World’s most dangerous man’ Ken Shamrock made a huge impact in WWE coming from a successful and pioneering career in MMA (28-17-2). The former King of Pancrase and UFC SuperFight champion signed with the WWE in the late 90s making a guest appearance as referee at Wrestlemania 13 between Stone Cold and Bret Hart. Shamrock’s demeanour and brutal exterior was perfect for pro wrestling. His rage fuelled make up was a successful addition during Mr McMahons Corporation. Shamrock left in 1999. He returned to MMA and later made appearance at other wrestling promotions.
Like Shamrock, Minoru Suzuki (30-19) was a former King of Pancrase. Known for the black towel on his head as he prepares to head into battle. A strong style fighter who battled some of the top names in MMA history such as Bas Rutten, Vernon White and Ken and Frank Shamrock. Suzuki fought during when rules were laughed at. In the early 2000s’ Minoru Suzuki made the play to pro wrestling after spending ten years in Pancrase, back to New Japan. His career flourished, winning championships at relevant promotions. His submission skills, catch wrestling ability is a perfect marriage for fans around the world to witness. Recently Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre Jr defeated Moustache Mountain for the Rev Pro Tag team belts. In April the team are back in London defending those belts against CCK.
Former UFC star Matt Riddle 8-3 (2) moved from the combat sport to become one of the rising stars of the Indys. His transition’s been impeccable. An undefeated MMA streak to picking up belts such as the Progress Atlas championship. Matt Riddle is the king of Bros, a surfer dude whose wrestling ability and shoot style persona isn’t just a work, but real. Seeing him perform against Zack Sabre Jr at a Revolution Pro Wrestling event where he came up short in a superb technical bout. That evening Riddle walked amongst the fans, gave autographs, took picture. Riddle has always been someone fans of either sport can connect with. Leaving Mixed Martial Arts, the King of Bros is establishing himself with confidence in his abilities will take him to the big shows of New Japan and finally WWE which is where he wants to be heading.
Two more to mention:-
Josh Barnett 35-8 former Pancrase Openweight champion, Pride, UFC, Strikeforce fighter has seen it all and done it. He’s battled in the TNA ring and all over Japan.
MMA legend Shayna Baszler (15-11) is a recent signee to NXT already making an impact with her heel attitude. She could well be a future member of a Ronda Rousey faction.
Need to mention CM Punk. The Chicago native reached the top in his time in Pro Wrestling. He went the other way and signed with the UFC. His only fight led to defeat by Micky Gall, which in my opinion was a mismatch. This years the UFC will have a card in Chicago and Punk could well be on that card. How will he do, will he return to pro Wrestling, will his love come back? Or will he move to another MMA promotion and build from scratch, or stop once and for all as the toll his body has been brutal over the years.