Many athletes over the years have competed in both MMA and pro wrestling, but none of those can match the duration of time spent in both the cage and the ring as Ken Shamrock. He's been involved in one, the other, or both at the same time for over 30 years, and is in both the UFC and Impact Wrestling Hall of Fames.
Competing in both MMA and pro wrestling takes different skill sets, and Shamrock compared working between the two on Busted Open.
"People are a little bit confused when I say this and it's only because they've never [experienced it], except for the people that wrestle or have done both will understand what I'm saying. It's wrestling [that is harder], because - and I try to explain it so people can understand it - when I fight [in MMA], I train in 8-12 weeks for a fight, and I go in and I fight. And when I go in and fight, I was pretty good at what I do and I was able to finish the fight within three-to-five minutes, and then I was out for a while," said Shamrock.
"Wrestling, there's no off. I mean, it's a constant road. It's constant slamming, getting punched and kicked, hitting with whatever thing they can pick up to hit you with, getting slammed, getting dropped on from the top rope. None of this stuff -- people seem to say, 'Well, the ending is predetermined', but in between that, it is not a cakewalk, man. Your body takes a beating, man. It's like being in a car wreck with your seatbelt on. Your body's just taking a tremendous amount of punishment, and so, I got hurt a lot worse in pro wrestling than I did when I was fighting, and maybe just because I was good at fighting my body took a lot more wear and tear in pro wrestling than it ever did when I was fighting."
In 2002, Shamrock became TNA's first ever World Champion by winning the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. He's had various stints with TNA/Impact and was recently inducted into their Hall of Fame earlier this year, which he says he considers to be the highest of honors.
"When you talk about accomplishments professionally, I think there's no greater accomplishment than being recognized by the fans and by your industry as you being one of the greatest, because when you're inducted into the Hall of Fame, that's basically what they're saying, is you contributed enough to be special. And so, when you get into something, even at a job, you always want to make sure -- even for me, I tried to make sure that I would be the best and I would be remembered forever, and I said that in interviews earlier on in my career," stated Shamrock.
"I wanted to be the best. I wanted people to remember me forever as one of the greatest, and when you get inducted into the Hall of Fame, I think that's what speaks very loudly of what your accomplishments were in and out of the ring because you get in the Hall of Fame. You shouldn't get into the Hall of Fame unless you contributed at a high level in whatever industry you're in, and you don't have to be an angel, but you are fairly respected within the community of the fans."
Before Shamrock ever stepped foot in Impact, he had an impressive WWE run where he won the 1998 King of the Ring and was a two-time champion. He also engaged in a feud for the Intercontinental Championship with The Rock as the two battled for the belt at WrestleMania XIV.
Thus, when Impact announced Shamrock for their Hall of Fame, he reached out to The Rock on Twitter for an induction greeting. The Rock responded and said he would take care of the induction, and Shamrock discussed the impact that each of them had on one other.
"Me and Rock ran a program together, and we've definitely stayed in contact through social media. But his schedule and my schedule, I mean, it's not like we go out and have coffee. We just live in two parts of the world, but I'll never forget the things that he did for me, and the times that we spent together were special because it really did help me in my pro wrestling career," said Shamrock. "And I know he'll tell you the same thing with me and the things that we did because that shot him up into stardom, and it wasn't because of me.
"It was because of what we were able to do together and be able to give ourselves a chance to be able to step away and do greater things at other places, but that was a start for me and for him, and he was a big part of that. So, I thought it was fitting for him to be a part of that induction because I believe that's where it started - was with him."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Busted Open with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.