In the run-up to what is set to be the biggest main event bout, in the ten-year history of Ring of Honor, title challenger Eddie Edwards is undergoing training with UFC Hall of Famer Dan ‘The Beast’ Severn. Exclusive footage of the #1 Contender’s preparations, for his rubber match with close personal friend and rival Davey Richards, was aired on the November 26th episode of Sinclair’s ‘ROH Wrestling’ television show.
It’s interesting to note that not only is Edwards’ trainer, for the ‘Final Battle 2011’ World Championship clash, one of the most decorated individuals ever to grace the world of Mixed Martial Arts but he also has an extremely credible background in the professional wrestling discipline.
The moustachioed Severn first broke into the pro wrestling industry, in 1992, with the ultra-physical, Japanese UWFi promotion. The Beast featured on a stacked roster, alongside such luminaries as Big Van Vader, Kazushi Sakuraba, Victor Zangiev (the inspiration for the ‘Street Fighter’ character of a similar name) and, deceptively tough Englishman, Norman Smiley.
On transitioning into the American game, Severn became affiliated with the National Wrestling Alliance umbrella organisation, in the early part of 1995. Before long, on February 24th of that year, he would defeat the late, great Chris Candido, on a Smoky Mountain Wrestling card, to win the prestigious NWA World Heavyweight Championship. In working with SMW, Severn built up a strong relationship with the company’s patron, Jim Cornette – now Executive Vice President of ROH- a connection that endures to this day.
Severn, a proud ambassador for the sport of professional wrestling, famously went on to wear the NWA gold to the ring, for his. May 17th 1996, UFC Superfight Championship collision with, long-time rival, Ken Shamrock. In winning this fight, The Beast became the first man to simultaneously hold both pro wrestling and MMA championships.
The durable Severn would successfully defend the NWA strap for four years. In doing so, he earned the distinction of being the third longest-reigning Champion in the century-plus history of the belt. Severn would take his place behind only Lou Thesz and Dory Funk Jr., in the all-time longevity list, after eventually falling to, Japanese Judoka, Naoya Ogawa, on March 14th 1999,
In 1998, whilst still in possession of the NWA Championship, Severn appeared, alongside the aforementioned Jim Cornette, as part of an invading old school stable on World Wrestling Federation programming.
In the early part of his WWF tenure, Severn worked his way through a series of journeyman opponents, showcasing his incredible mat grappling ability and a range of unique throws.
Once established, he would become entangled with the envelope-pushing Nation of Domination faction. In one of the most memorable acts of his career, the no-nonsense submission specialist injured the pectoral muscles of Nation stalwart D’Lo Brown. A vicious bow-and-arrow lock would force Brown to wear a chest protector, during competition, for an extended period of time.
In the same year, Severn was also an entrant in the, notoriously ill-fated, ‘Brawl for All’ tournament. The MMA veteran defeated another Nation member, ‘The Godfather’ Kama Mustafa, in the opening round, only to see his progress cut short by injury.
Subsequently, a healed Severn would go on to meet, perhaps, the most high-profile opponent of his pro wrestling career – Nation figurehead Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. The Beast and The Rock collided in the Semi-Finals of 1998’s sixth-annual, one-night, single-elimination ‘King of the Ring’ tournament. Severn would lose to The Rock, in controversial fashion, following interference from a vengeful D’Lo.
Severn’s interactions with the Nation would not end there. A personal issue would simmer between himself and Owen Hart, which would then lead to Severn later rekindling his feud with Shamrock. The WWF would play up the MMA history of Severn and Shamrock, in an attempt to capitalise on the UFC’s first boom in popularity.
After making his WWF departure and losing the NWA Championship, in early 1999, Severn returned to Japan, making appearances for the short-lived WXO organisation, whilst also continuing his MMA career.
In March of 2002, he would regain the NWA gold, defeating the vaunted Shinya Hashimoto in a contest held in the Orient. However, this reign was to be abruptly cut short, due to TNA’s assumption of the NWA lineage. Severn was unable to agree a deal to work for the fledgling organisation and, ironically, Ken Shamrock would go on to capture the vacant Championship, on the inaugural NWA:TNA card.
In June 2004, now semi-retired, Severn founded the Price of Glory promotion, in his native Michigan. Names that will be familiar to ROH fans, including Jimmy Jacobs and Josh Raymond, passed through the territory.
More recently, Severn has refocused his energies on training students, in all combat disciplines, via his Michigan Sports Camps. The multi-sport legend will be holding one such seminar at the MMA World Expo, in New York, on December 17th, just six days before his anticipated appearance at the tenth annual instalment of ROH’s illustrious ‘Final Battle’ extravaganza.
Combat sports fans, around the globe, will be able to see Dan Severn, as he corners his new pro wrestling protege, Eddie Edwards, live on internet pay-per-view, at GoFightLive.tv, on Friday December 23rd. Bell-time, at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom, is 7:30pm EST.