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MMA Fighters Transitioning to Pro-Wrestling: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

The Bad

Tank Abbott, WCW’s Punchline.

With his goatee, beer gut and biker persona, Tank Abbott just looks like a guy who should be a professional wrestler. Unsurprisingly, WCW took a chance on Tank in 1999, right as it was becoming obvious that a successful MMA career was not in his future. Of course, by 1999 WCW could fuck up a cup of coffee, so a bright professional wrestling career wouldn’t be in his future, either. Seriously, you could write a book about the ways that WCW misused talent and ran itself out of business.

Tank’s career started out well enough — he was billed as a street fighter with devastating one-punch knockout power. He destroyed jobbers with “The Phantom Right” — GET IT BECAUSE A PHANTOM PUNCH IS FAKE AND WRESTLING IS FAKE TOO OMG THE FOURTH WALL HAS BEEN TORN DOWN!!!!!!1 (WCW thought stuff like this was clever. Don’t ask.) — and proceeded to call out WCW’s biggest star, Bill Goldberg.

An Abbott vs. Goldberg feud might have been successful, had WCW not assigned Tank to job to D-List actor David Arquette, thus destroying his credibility as a main event opponent. For that matter, post-Goldberg Tank could have still been used as a halfway decent midcarder, if only WCW didn’t book him in one of the most absurd storylines of their final years. Asking WCW creative how nonsensical angles would benefit their company would have been as pointless as asking Roy Nelson if he’d like to add bacon onto his Whopper, which is the only reason why I’m assuming Tank Abbott was repackaged as an obsessed roadie for WCW’s resident boy band, 3 Count. Abbott was mercifully released from his WCW contract following this clunker, and has been living a comparatively dignified life ever since.

Bonus: Via The Book of WCW Stupidity — “Tank Abbott got legitimately p.o’d at ‘Big Al’ during a match. At the end of their match (which was a leather jacket on a pole match of course), he pulled a knife on him, held it to his throat and told him he could kill him. The cameras cut away while Schivone tried to explain to fans that Tank Abbott was disrespecting him by trying to shave his beard. Big Al didn’t have a beard though…” Legend.

Tim Sylvia and Pro Wrestling: A Case Study in Despair

(When Josh Barnett can’t pull you though a watchable match, you may want to find an easier second job.)

I know that you may find this hard to believe, but Tim Sylvia treats professional wrestling as just another cash grab in a career that’s been full of them. Sylvia has occasionally wrestled in Japan over the past few years. Or more accurately, he has collected a paycheck from Japanese wrestling promoters who needed a gaijin blob to lose to someone credible. Look, I didn’t exactly expect Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels from a wrestler with virtually no experience, but holy hell, I expected him to at least be able to take a bump. How he didn’t break his arm at the 10:45 mark in the above video is beyond me.

Oh, and before you assume that his wrestling career is over, Sylvia has recently attempted to start *another* grassroots Twitter campaign — this time, to earn himself a contract with TNA Impact Wrestling. I feel this image sums up our collective reactions nicely…

Kevin Randleman, the Career that (Surprisingly) Went Nowhere

(This is being posted due to the complete lack of professional wrestling footage of Randleman on Youtube. *sighs*.)

Kevin Randleman is, hands down, the most surprising bust on this list. Despite a decorated amateur wrestling career, achieving legitimate stardom in Pride, and, frankly, just looking like a guy who should be a famous professional wrestler — all things that should guarantee him a meaningful career wrestling in Japan — Randleman’s time spent in the world of Japanese professional wrestling was notably brief and overwhelmingly disappointing. He’s arguably more famous for jokingly challenging WWE wrestler Kofi Kingston to a corner jumping contest than anything he’s accomplished in the ring — and how many of you even knew about that? Exactly.

Tito Ortiz and TNA Wrestling: No One Cared When he Was Relevant, Either.

Before we go any further, let’s be fair to Tito Ortiz: He actually did well as a guest referee in TNA back in 2005 (shown above). But as the Dean Malenkos of the world will tell you, there’s more to being a success in professional wrestling than being competent in the ring. The fans have to actually give a shit about what you’re doing, and the non-existent crowd reaction he received when he was introduced in the above video tells you exactly how thrilled TNA fans were to watch a big-headed MMA fighter take the focus away from their favorite wrestlers. Basically, TNA spent too much money in order to bring in a minor celebrity that their fans couldn’t have given less of a shit about. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Just like all of Tito’s other relationships, things quickly went from bad to downright ugly. After weeks of buildup from TNA that a surprise wrestler was coming to the company on August 1, Tito returned to TNA Impact, where somehow the wrestling fans managed to roll their eyes harder at his return to their sport than us MMA fans did at his return to ours. He almost gave a promo the following week, but for obvious reasons was interrupted well before he could complete his first sentence by someone that the fans actually wanted to pay money to watch.

Of course, Tito is just one example of a much bigger problem…

The Entire Bellator/TNA Partnership.

(Not even the crickets reacted to “Rampage” Jackson’s promo.)

Without getting all Seinfeldian on everyone, imagine if Bellator booked Samoa Joe vs. Sting in an MMA fight for the main event of Bellator 110. It’d be pointless. You’d have two guys with zero MMA experience engaging in what would undoubtedly be a sloppy, hard to watch brawl. MMA fans would feel betrayed by a perceived attempt to sell them out to draw in a different market, while professional wrestling fans wouldn’t even bother watching because they aren’t interested in watching their favorite wrestlers badly attempt to be MMA fighters. And let’s not forget how nervous both Bellator and TNA promoters would be about someone legitimately getting injured in a pointless fight. It would lead to a watered down product, fans losing interest, and fighters getting upset at the company because overpaid, undeserving rookies who barely even want to be there are getting pushes they don’t deserve, right?

Right. So with all of that in mind…how exactly does anyone benefit from this partnership?

And now, without further ado, here’s Tito slugging Rampage with a hammer during last night’s broadcast:

Hit that “next page” link for an ugly example of TNA imitating MMA, a fake fight that got all too real, and the single dumbest thing ever done in hopes of advancing one’s career…

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