Bret Hart recently discussed his working relationship with Ken Shamrock, claiming that he once saved the former UFC competitor from being fired.
During an interview with ‘The 81 Podcast’, Bret Hart talked about former UFC fighter turned professional wrestler, Ken Shamrock. Following a Hall of Fame worthy career with Ultimate Fighting Championship, Shamrock would make his debut with WWF in 1997.
His first official match with the company took place WrestleMania 13, where he would act as a special guest referee in the legendary submission match between Bret Hart and ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. Although Shamrock and Hart would meet in the ring on several occasions throughout their respective careers, the pair would never feud for a substantial amount of time. Bret Hart recalls his desire to work with Shamrock after training him at his home in Canada:
“Right from the start I wanted to wrestle Ken [Shamrock], like I would have loved to have worked with him. I got Ken in and trained him, I put Vader in. Vader and Ken trained in my house. I had a gym set up in my house. You might remember from Wrestling With Shadows.
“I trained Ken in there. I was the guy that brought him in and kinda got him to do the wrestling. He told me he broke his hand doing UFC and he goes ‘I can’t fight for a while’, I said ‘why don’t you wrestle? Make some money doing wrestling’ and I was like ‘you’d be a big star in wrestling’, because Ken used to be a pro-wrestler before he did the UFC stuff, so it wasn’t that hard for him to go ‘ok, I’ll go back to the pro-wrestling stuff’.
“So I said ‘let your hand mend up and heal and we’ll do wrestling stuff’ and I’d have loved to have worked with Ken, it just never happened, I don’t know why, probably more to do with the office.”
The Hitman went on to say he actually helped the World’s Most Dangerous Man keep his job.
“In fact, I remember Vince was gonna fire him and he called me up and basically said ‘I’m just getting ready to call Ken Shamrock, I’m going to fire him’, and I said ‘why would you fire him?’ and he was like ‘a lot of guys didn’t like him or in management’. I remember I said ‘I don’t think you should fire him, we really need a guy like Ken Shamrock, we can use a guy like that, he could be a star and we could draw money with him’.
“He ended up changing his mind and I remember he goes ‘alright I’ll keep him’, and they kept him and then he did pretty good. That was all in the early going when he showed up.[…] I always thought he was someone who could have been a way bigger star than what they allowed him to be. Triple H, I remember, didn’t like him, and I remember he was working with him a lot and was always criticising him and talking about him. I think that was one of the guys who stabbed him in the back a lot.”
Though the pair would never extensively feud in the squared circle, they would face each other on more than one occasion. The duo would even meet for the WWF Championship in 1997, a match in which ‘The Hitman’ would emerge victorious. Shamrock would have a memorable rivalry with another Hart family member, Owen Hart. The pair would face off against each other a number of times, including a ‘Hart Family Dungeon’ match at Fully Loaded, 1998.
Ken Shamrock also credits Bret Hart for his success in professional wrestling. In a 2019 interview with 411 Wrestling, Shamrock praises Hart for the guidance showed when ‘the world’s most dangerous man’ was transitioning from mixed martial arts to professional wrestling:
“I would say the one guy when I first started out and went back into pro wrestling, and I got to talk [to] was Bret Hart. And his psychology that he laid out for me was just not to try to be something I’m not. They brought me in because I am who I am. And he said, ‘You’re keeping your same name, you’re the world’s most dangerous man. When you’re getting into the pro wrestling ring, that’s who you are. Do everything you do when fighting. But, do it in the pro wrestling ring.’ And I thought to myself, ‘Well wow, that’s genius.’ It’s like, I don’t have to change. I got the same character, this is who I am. And so having that person there to say ‘Listen, just be you, that’s why they brought you here.’”
Ken Shamrock would ultimately leave WWF in late 1999 to resume his mixed martial arts career. Since his exit, Shamrock has appeared for various MMA promotions, including UFC. He has also performed for TNA, NJPW and various independent promotions. In 2020 he was inducted into the Impact Hall of Fame by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson
Credit for Interview: The 81 Podcast
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