Our guest this month is one of those guys who has done it all. He is an Ultimate Fighting Champion, the current NWA World Heavyweight Champion, and was an alternate to the US Olympic wrestling team in 1984, and 1988. Many feel he is on the verge of a major deal with the WWF. Dan "The Beast" Severn.
Photo provided by the Official Dan Severn home page.
MB: Dan thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to be with us.
DS: My pleasure Mike.
MB: Dan a two part Question. Part one, how did you get into Professional Wrestling? Part two, how did you get into the UFC?
DS: I had always been interested in professional wrestling. You know, watched it as a child and young adult. I had kind of avoided pursuing it, because I was an amateur champion, and had been an alternate for two Olympic teams. I really did not want to loose my amateur status. In 1992 the Olympic committee ruled that people could compete in the amateur ranks and hold a professional status at the same time. That gave me the green light to start my career as a professional wrestler. It was the chance to have my cake and eat it too, so to speak.
As for UFC. A friend of mine had showed me one of the tapes, and I was excited. Not to be redundant, to me it seemed like the true "ultimate challenge". Your in the Octagon, you have to rely on your psychical, mental, and psychological attributes for real one on one combat. Having been a competitor all of my life, I felt like it was something I needed to do. I did my first Ultimate Fight in 1994, and have been involved ever since.
MB: Who trained you for professional wrestling, and helped you get your start?
DS: I had an active interest in professional wrestling, and a friend of mine who was president of the Michigan Wrestling Club (Denny Cass) periodically traveled to Ohio to train with Al Snow. So I asked Dennis if I could go with him one weekend, and watch a training session. After seeing a training session with Al Snow, I had found a whole new level of respect for professional wrestling. I knew that to be successful I would have to put in the time and effort into learning how to take my knowledge of amateur style and use that as a starting point to develop my profession skills. Al Snow's school helped me do that.
MB: Who did you watch as a kid, and what wrestlers have had a major impact on your career?
DS: Growing up as a kid, I enjoyed it for what it was. I think we might have busted up a few pieces of furniture trying out new techniques in the living room. I used to watch Big Time Wrestling every Sunday afternoon, with people like The Sheik, Bobo Brazil, Flying Fred Curry, and all of the stars of that era. Then I got to a point where I was so tied up with my amateur career that I didn't get to watch it on a regular basis. Then my interest was really rekindled in the mid 80's after I had a couple of offers to turn pro.
MB: If the money, schedule, and exposure were equal, which would you prefer to do UFC, or Professional Wrestling?
DS: To be honest, to do all of things that I would like to do, I need to be about ten years younger. I love both sports (wrestling and UFC). I can see myself starting to spend more time concentrating on my professional wrestling career, and less time on the UFC. It just seems like there is not enough time to do everything I want to do.
MB: The big buzz is that you are right on the verge of signing a deal with the WWF. Is there anything you can tell us about Dan Severn in the WWF.
DS: The truth is, I have been talked to by just about every major group inside the US, as well as several companies outside the US. But, I am in kind of an unusual situation. There are some aspects of my life that I truly enjoy, and I am not willing to give up. So I have to be very careful in negotiating a deal that will allow me to protect those things. I have my own training facility, and I work with a number of different athletes. What ever company I eventually sign with will have to allow me the flexibility and schedule I need to keep up with my other commitments. Yes, I have had some long talks with Vince McMahon, I think we have developed a rapport, and a certain professional relationship. It does look very promising at this point, but only time will tell if I will sign with the WWF. I am not really waiting around either. I'm 39 years old, and the clock is running. I have set a goal to sign with a Major US promotion in 98, and it will happen.
MB: Dan can you tell us if WCW has ever expressed any interest in signing you?
DS: I have had the chance to meet with Eric Bischoff, I have also met with ECW, All Japan, The IWA, and had various offers from inside the UFC community. Some days I just kinda scratch my head and wonder how I'm going to decide, and how I'm going to find the time to do everything. I guess that's allot better position than not having any options, or offers and wondering what now. I'm really in a great situation, and hopefully when it comes time to decide I'll make the right choices.
MB: If the deal goes through with the WWF, will it mean no more UFC, or independent promotion appearances?
DS: I hope not. I mean really, I am the commodity I am because of my success in the UFC, the NWA, and the independent wrestling circuit. I want to be able to continue my association with those folks and stay true to my roots.
MB: Looking at the WWF roster, probably the most noticeable, and anticipated match up would be Dan Severn Vs. Ken Shamrock. I know you guys have mixed it up in the UFC. I seem to recall you each have one win, and one loss , but have you and Ken ever done a wrestling match?
DS: No, Ken and I have never been involved in a professional wrestling match. Yes you are correct, we each have one victory over each other in the UFC. He got the first victory, and to tell the truth I never should have fought that night. I had strep throat and a fever of about 103, I never should have walked out there. But ... what do you do when you have been advertised to appear on a national level, the match is on PPV, people are expecting to see you, and there is nobody else. You do the right thing, and you go out and give it your best effort. I do know that it was not in my best interest to fight that night, but I did it because I felt like I had to. The second fight, was somewhat conservative, because I wanted to make absolutely certain that I stuck to my game plan, and walked out as the winner, which I did.
MB: Is there anyone else in the WWF that you look forward to working against?
DS: I look forward to having great matches with everyone in the WWF. I come in with a back ground similar to Ken's, with the added plus of a very extensive amateur background, my professional experience, the Judo, the Sambo. I mean I have thirty years of experience in combative sports. I think I can have a good match with anyone I face.
MB: Dan you mentioned the fact, your 39 going on 40. Now admittedly I honestly can't think of anyone else your age that is in the kind of condition that your in, but how much longer do you think you can compete at this level?
DS: (Laughing) Well mike, let me pull out the crystal ball and try to answer that one. No seriously, I think the greatest testimony to an athlete is the test of time . I have competed for thirty years, I have been on the international scene since 1976, and I am rapidly approaching 4,000 matches. I have wrestled as many as 17 amateur matches in one day! I would enter tournaments in two age groups and three weight division, and literally go from one mat to the next with no break.. That kind of conditioning has paid dividends over and over again. I think that barring any major injuries I still have a few good years left, but we will just have to wait and see.
MB: What makes it so tough to face "The Beast"?
DS: Well, I am two totally different people. The guy your talking with now is nothing like the guy who steps into the Octagon, or the squared circle. I can shake your hand and be cordial before the match, and shake your hand and be cordial after the match. But from bell to bell, hey no hard feelings for what I'm going to do.
MB: What do you feel was your best match to date?
DS: I have been very fortunate to be matched up with some great wrestlers. Guys like Road Warrior Hawk, Al Snow, Sabu, Bam Bam Bigelow. I really don't want to slight anyone but I have had some great matches with some great people. It's tough to pull out one single match and say, "that was my best one". I'm also very critical of myself. I look at the tapes, and say "man I could have done that better, or I should have used this counter there".
MB: Dan if you could work against one guy in the industry right now, to put on the ultimate match, who would it be?
DS: Actually I have already been involved in a couple of those. I recently had a match with Dory Funk, we went thirty minutes and got a standing ovation for our efforts. I had a match with Bam Bam Bigelow, and things just clicked, awesome match, the crowd ate it up. Again I don't want to slight anyone, and I know there were other really great matches, but those stick out in my mind.
MB: Who does Dan Severn enjoy watching, and who do you see as being the stars of the future?
DS: I can't predict who are going to be the big names in the sport in the future, but currently I enjoy watching Chris Benoit, and Dean Malenko. Just because of their wonderful techniques, and their veracity in each and every match. I also enjoy watching Ric Flair. I mean you want to talk about someone that has truly stood the test of time. The man just has a charisma that's electric. Again I can't mention everyone I enjoy watching so I feel like I'm slighting someone, but there is just so much talent out there. I find myself every Monday night just like everyone else. Remote control in hand, flippen back and forth trying to catch as much of both shows that I can. I'm studying and taking it all in, because my goal is to sign with one of these promotions in 98. I plan on being well studied, and ready for action.
MB: Allot of readers are young folks that often express an interest in a career in professional wrestling. What is the best advice you could give to someone contemplating a career in the squared circle?
DS: A couple of things. First never put all of your eggs in one basket. You never know when a career ending injury will put you out. You have to have an alternate plan to fall back on. Secondly, I coached at Arizona State, and Michigan State. I have seen some fantastic athletic resumes, that I had to place in the trash can because the individuals prepared their body but failed to prepare their mind. Trying to come in with GPA's ranging from 1.4 to 2.0. Not gonna get it done. Wrestling involves a very complex thought process, and involves psychology and technique. You have to be fit mentally as well as psychically. I would tell youngsters to spend as much time preparing for the mental challenge as they spend preparing for the physical challenge.
MB: Dan your schedule is packed, I mean I look at it and wonder how you do it?
DS: Yes I stay busy, you have to. I keep a copy of my schedule on my web page so fans will have some idea of when and where they can see me.
MB: I'm glad you mentioned that, Your site looks great, and is a must see for any Dan Severn fan, its located at www.The-Beast.com
MB: Dan I know you were here about a year ago and did a show with the Sunshine Wrestling Federation, which has recently picked up a historic banner and is now Florida Championship Wrestling. Any chance of you getting back our way this year?
DS: I would definitely look forward to working another FCW show. I have a great relationship with the promoter (Bill Brown), I always enjoy working on one of his shows, and hopefully you will see me in FCW sometime this year.
MB: Dan I know how busy you are, and from myself, and all of my Off The Top Rope readers, thanks for taking the time to be with us.
DS: My pleasure, and thanks for the opportunity to express myself to wrestling fans on the web. Your all invited to stop by my web site and check it out.
If you guys get a chance, or have been by Dan's web site, You know how tight his schedule is. He was very gracious to offer us this time and the interview. If you enjoyed it, please take the time to visit Dan's site, drop him an e mail and let him know you appreciated the interview.
Mike Brand is a friend of Solie's and the proprietor of Mike B's Wrestling Page, home of the Off the Top Rope newsletter.
I, of course, was more then willing to cooperate in any way I could. Arn Anderson is one of my very favorite wrestlers of all time. More then most, he reminds me of the great grapplers I used to ' watch as a boy growing up in Los Angeles.
Consequently I spent all day Saturday and part of Sunday pouring through my largely uncatalogued wrestling video collection in order to assemble 6 hours of vintage Horsemen footage featuring the "Enforcer".
One of the things that struck me as I watched those many hours of tape was what a great mic presence the man has! Those eyes flashing fire and yet communicating cold menace at the same time. Simply masterful.
Arn Anderson's official web site has just opened. The URL can be found on my A List page and also right here. They will be selling the book through the web and I would urge any wrestling fan to pick one up. It's sure to be a fascinating read.
At least that's the way I see it...
Editor, Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
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