Professional wrestling and mixed martial arts are inextricably linked. While the sport of MMA grew in popularity thanks to the rise of the UFC in the west, in Japan MMA developed organically out of strong-style pro wrestling events, that eventually dropped the predetermined outcomes to become sporting contests.
As MMA has steadily become more popular worldwide, the successes of Kazushi Sakuraba, Ken Shamrock, and more recently, Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley, have attracted many more pro wrestlers attempting to replicate their triumphs. This was recently demonstrated by CM Punk’s two unsuccessful forays into the sport, who proved that making the transition on the big stage is a recipe for disaster if you don’t possess a background in combat sports or at least some degree of natural fighting skills.
That hasn’t prevented many from trying, however. Some take to the ultra-competitive sport like a proverbial duck to water, while others appear completely out of their depth when making their first steps into the cage. Here are some of the pro wrestlers who pursued a career in the cage but never quite reached the heights they did in the squared circle.