WWE: UFC Icon “The Beast” Dan Severn Weighs In On Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker
A hypothetical: what if the WrestleMania showdown between Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker devolved from a “worked” pro wrestling match...
A hypothetical: what if the WrestleMania showdown between Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker devolved from a “worked” pro wrestling match into a legitimate fight?
So called “shoots” are rare, especially nowadays, but not unprecedented.
Imagine, for instance, that Lesnar were secretly considering a return to mixed martial arts, and wanted to make a bold statement of his legitimate fighting prowess on wrestling’s “grandest stage.” Legitimately making The Undertaker tap out, thereby breaking the vaunted streak, would surely make headlines and raise Lesnar’s stock considerably.
Undertaker, the consummate professional, would be highly unlikely to start a “shoot,” but he’d have no choice but to defend himself and fight back if Lesnar made things real.
So who would win?
Who better to answer that question than a man intimately acquainted with both professional wrestling and mixed martial arts, Dan “The Beast” Severn.
Severn was a UFC triple crown champ, and has held prestigious championships in both amateur and professional wrestling.
In an exclusive interview with WhatCulture, “The Beast” — Severn, that is, not Lesnar, who has recently claimed the nickname — weighed in on how a real fight between The Undertaker and Lesnar might unfold.
Should Lesnar try to shoot on the Undertaker, the Phenom would be well-served by trying to immobilize Lesnar’s massive arms, Severn said.
“In the last half-dozen years, I know The Undertaker has been influenced by the mixed martial arts world. I’ve seen how, along with the traditional chokeslam, powerbomb, and Tombstone piledriver, he’s added the triangle choke (Hell’s Gate) to his repertoire,” said Severn. “In UFC, that’s probably where most of the world has seen the triangle choke, first and foremost in submission grappling. It’s a combination move where you have options, because once you have the triangle choke on an opponent you have different things you can do with it. Think of your legs in a figure-four type of fashion, and the different ways you can lock down or squeeze your thighs together.”
The effectiveness of the triangle choke, Severn explained, depends on several physical factors along with tactical strategies.
“A lot of it comes down to you and the size and athletic frame of your opponent,” said the UFC Hall of Famer.
“Undertaker is obviously very tall, but there are guys who are big and thick chested, with large traps or short thick-neck individuals, where it becomes a whole lot harder to fit that move on to. With the triangle choke, you’re more apt to get like an arm bar from it.”
But there are different approaches The Undertaker could take, should he manage to lock Lesnar in Hell’s Gate, Severn reiterated.
“In the MMA world, you just get the triangle choke on, hold on with everything you’ve got and tee off on the guy, ’cause he’s sort of in a helpless position so you can punch at random will,” he explained. “And while your opponent is struggling, you’re shutting down his breathing capabilities. I preach a lot of that as tactics when I do mixed martial arts seminars and even submission grappling seminars. It’s what I refer to as mental distraction, when your opponent is thinking about taking their next breath, they’re not really thinking about defense techniques. They’re more concerned about their next breath.”
In recent years, several MMA sites reported The Undertaker, whose real name is Mark Calaway, was awarded a black belt in Brazilian Jui Jitsu from professional mixed martial artist Rolles Gracie. Undertaker is frequently spotted in the audience at UFC events — including one memorable time several years ago when he seemed to be goading Lesnar into a WWE return.
Severn said when a wrestler is up against a Jui Jitsu expert — who are generally lacking in takedown skills — the wrestler has to let the Jui Jitsu expert come to him. “That’s what I would do, as a wrestler, and Brock is an NCAA (amateur wrestling) champion,” he said. “Then I’d bludgeon my opponent with striking combos, forearm shivers, throw up a knee — possibly splitting open an eye. If things were going my way, breaking down my opponent and taking a physical toll, I’d knock him on his can and take him down.”
Lesnar also has one of the most dangerous moves in all of sports in his arsenal, the Kimura Lock — a shoulder lock, originally a Japanese arm lock — that “The Beast Incarnate” has already used to take out Triple H, Shawn Michaels, John Cena, and Mark Henry.
“Mixed martial arts has influenced not only WWE, but various other professional wrestling organizations in recent years, and you can certainly see that with guys like Brock Lesnar, who also uses several different head and arm choke combinations,” said Severn. “WWE have utilized MMA submission techniques, whereas before you’d have the classic figure-four leg lock, Boston crab, submission backbreaker, an ankle lock, or the good old fashioned sleeper hold.”
Then there’s Undertaker’s towering height, at nearly seven feet, to consider, Severn explained.
“When you have a guy as tall as the Undertaker, that range of reach is a definite advantage,” said Severn.
“In MMA, if I’m teaching a guy who is really tall, I really work on their stand up abilities because they already have several inches of reach in the first place, so they should learn a nice stiff jab.
“Along with that, just simple combinations would work wonders for them, and depending on the individual’s background, I’d teach them how to defend against takedowns. Because each person has different strengths that they bring to the game. If you can keep from being taken down and keep the game on your feet, and if you have at least enough tactics or techniques in your repertoire just to keep your opponent at business, or know how to still fight from close-quarter combatives, you should do well.”
Wrestlers with the abilities of someone like Brock Lesnar often excel in the mixed martial arts arena, said Severn: “If I brought in a wrestler, not just any wrestler — not a guy who wrestled for say one or two years then dropped out — but a guy who succeeded on a high school level, junior level, or a collegiate level, they already come with a better work ethic and they have a better mental and physical mindset. Wrestlers are very tenacious individuals, and just go out there and succeed. It’s a known commodity.”
When asked to compare the world of sports entertainment to mixed martial arts, Severn quickly responded: “I found it more difficult to do pro wrestling than MMA. In MMA, all I had to do was walk out there and get results. In pro wrestling, you have to put your body in someone else’s hands, and pray to God they don’t hurt you.”
Pressed to predict a winner in the hypothetical Lesnar-Undertaker shoot, Severn replied with a chuckle: “Okay, if you’re asking me straight up, how would Undertaker do in a shoot match against Brock, well, I’d be betting the farm on Brock,” he said.
“Now, in the wacky world of professional wrestling where anything can and will happen, especially at an event as massive as WrestleMania 30, you just never know.”