Ken Shamrock on Still Being ‘Bound for Glory’ in Impact Wrestling at Age 56
Ken Shamrock first walked into Impact Wrestling in 2002 on its inaugural event. The UFC legend and former WWE superstar won a battle royal to become the first recognized world champion. Fast forward to today, the veteran is back in a promotion that has overcome much change in his years away. The 56-year-old still competes at a high level, working with many of the emerging talents on the roster, providing a valuable experience for them and proving age is but a number.
Impact announced Shamrock would be this year’s Hall of Fame inductee, joining the likes of Sting, Kurt Angle and Gail Kim. The honor comes in the middle of a career resurgence where he is set to face Eddie Edwards at October 24’s Bound for Glory. We caught up with “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” as he gears up for Impact’s tentpole show.
How do you feel about being in Impact Wrestling at this stage of your career?
Ken Shamrock: It’s fun to see where I am now and look back to where I was a year or year-and-a-half ago. I basically have been out of wrestling and MMA. I took a year off. Then I had to see if I could still be in the ring. I went to Battle Championship Wrestling in Australia and did things I didn’t think I could do. I did some BioXcellerator in Colombia. My body has responded well to that treatment. Being out of any competitive sport and coming back and feeling great, it’s almost like I’ve been given the fountain of youth all over again.
I’ve been able to do things I actually haven’t done before. Now I’m diving over the top rope and doing these showstoppers. To see my body respond after the layoff and the stem cell I got from BioXcellerator—it all came together, and I felt great. That’s where I’m at today. People are watching me saying, “How can he do that?” I’m fortunate the treatments have worked well for me. I’m excited to be part of Impact with the Bound for Glory coming up and being inducted into the Hall of Fame. You couldn’t ask for anything better.
What is your key to staying in shape?
I think one of the most important things is the diet. It’s what I talk to people about who work out and try to stay in shape. You don’t have to be strict, but you do have to be conscious of what you’re putting into your body. The training is important for your growth and health, but it’s also in between the training. The rest. You have to let your body respond. I kept training through injuries, being tired. I just felt like if I keep going I’ll get better. The reality is you have to take a little more time off and let your body respond and be able to grow as opposed to keep hitting the gym.
How would you describe the atmosphere of the Impact Wrestling locker room these days? It seems there is some real momentum building.
Since I came in, they were just starting to make those moves and bringing in different people. There were some people who had their past catch up with them. They were forced to get rid of some talent. You wonder if you’re going downward because you lost some talent, but Impact to me has improved the roster by going out and finding all this talent out there to come in and fill those spots. It’s exciting to see where it is right now. When I got there, it’s fun to watch how fast Impact was growing, how hard people are working. The dedication that is going on behind the scenes and in the ring. When you’re part of a group where everyone wants to succeed, but you are not trying to step on each other’s toes and [instead] work together to get there, it’s a great environment.
I was part of that at one time in WWF when they lost all this talent to WCW. They were having those wars and losing them. Then to see everyone bond together and do the job and work together with a common goal to put on the best performance… There then was some big-time star power, but it took time to get there. You see guys like Bret Hart and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin become mega stars and The Rock and The Undertaker. There is a common goal to be successful at Impact but not try to push everybody down. Put on a great show with whoever you’re working with and bring the best out of them.
You’ve been doing that with Sami Callihan as an opponent and partner.
A lot of people tell you what you want to hear. It’s not like we’re best buddies. We both see an opportunity to help each other reach our goals. What I respect most out of him is, even though he might be rough around the edges and the bedside manner might not be the best, he is direct. He tells it like it is. We get into scuffles and scraps, and that’s okay because after it’s said and done, the reality is he has his own way of doing things. Then when you hear what he is saying, oftentimes it is true.
When I think about your WWE run, I look back at your great rivalry and series of matches with The Rock. Fans were excited to see him agree to contribute to your Hall of Fame induction. Why was it important for you to reach out to him to be part of your big night?
In life there are always people that are important pieces to your journey. They helped take you to where you needed to go and vice versa. The Rock had a career in college football with an opportunity to get to the pros from Miami. Then he chose to go into wrestling. I did my career in fighting and MMA and did well. Of course, I was going in a different direction. So I think we caught each other at a time where we were excited to find who we were and what we would become. When Vince [McMahon] put us together, it was like iron sharpening iron. I believe we really found out who we were in pro wrestling when we were able to work our programs together.
We had some great matches and were able to talk about things on the road and figure out what worked and didn’t work. We were able to rise to where we are today off each other while working together. After his run, he went to the sky. I went in a different direction, but I had a similar success. It’s awesome to look back on the journeys that you traveled, especially during times when you are recognized as being one of the greats and going into the Hall of Fame. You want to be able to include people who were so significant in that journey. The Rock was very significant in my journey. That’s why I reached out to him. There are several others that have also been important to the journey too. It’s going to be fun to see how it all unfolds and the people involved that night. I’m honored.
You were such a trailblazer in many ways when you look at the influence MMA has had on pro wrestling and vice versa. Given how this hybrid style is so prevalent, how do you think things would have been for Ken Shamrock had he entered the business today?
I think one thing people don’t realize is when I fought over in Japan with the UWF (Universal Wrestling Federation), it was pro wrestling. [Masakatsu] Funaki and [Minoru] Suzuki and myself came together. They were talking about what it would be like if they made pro wrestling real. What would it look like? That’s how the organization Pancrase came to be. The idea of what pro wrestling would look like if it was real. That’s when we had the first real fighting style that was rising up the pro wrestling ranks. Years after that, we had a no holds barred circuit that became the UFC. When you look at it wrestling—and people may not want to give credit to it—that’s what would have happened if you were to turn wrestling real.
It would look like what you see with mixed martial arts. All that’s happening now is you’re seeing it taken up a couple of notches. It’s predetermined, but in between that finish, we’re going to kick each other’s butt. And hopefully you don’t get caught on your feet or in a hold there, so you can make it to the finish line. To me, that’s exciting. That’s the uncertainty people like. When someone takes a bump off the top rope, are they going to get up? Now you guys are kicking the crap out of each other in between the bell. Are they going to make it to the bell? To me, that is exciting.
You’re battling Eddie Edwards at Bound for Glory. He’s known for his physicality. With the Hall of Fame induction and the show being the biggest in Impact’s calendar year, do you feel added pressure to perform?
Eddie has a reputation of taking a bat to the face and keeping going. It’s going to be fun. I like guys who are like that. I’d much rather get into somebody who is going to hurt and the match is going to be great. I look forward to going in there and knocking the crap out of one another. Hopefully, he makes it to the bell.
Do you have that one marquee match you want to have before it’s all said and done?
It’s a dangerous thought to get in your head this close to Bound for Glory with Eddie. This is the biggest match I’m going to have because it’s the one coming up. It’s good to reminisce and look at the potential, but right now I’m too close to Bound for Glory. So I’m not going to take the mind off the prize.
Bound for Glory, October 24, 8/7c, Pay-Per-View and FITE TV. Ken Shamrock’s induction ceremony will be part of the first-ever Live Countdown to Glory pre-show at 7/6c on AXS TV.
Impact Wrestling, Tuesdays, 8/7c, AXS TV