Unlike Ken Shamrock, his old rival in the earliest days of the UFC, Dan Severn didn’t enjoy much success at all in the WWE despite being one of the then-fledgling mixed martial arts promotion’s biggest stars. Many have blamed this lack of success on a lack of charisma and mic skills, but as the original “Beast” of the WWE suggested in a recent interview, it wasn’t like WWE wasn’t trying to get him over. Thing is, a lot of the ideas thrown Severn’s way didn’t exactly scream “future main eventer.”
In an appearance on the Duke Loves Rasslin podcast, the 59-year-old Severn opened up on a variety of topics, covering his illustrious MMA career, as well as his less than spectacular run in the WWE, during the company’s Attitude Era. While fellow UFC pioneer Shamrock was enjoying a solid mid-card run as “The World’s Most Dangerous Man,” and becoming well known for his tendency to “snap” during and after matches, Severn oftentimes lacked for characterization, and not even a heel turn and Jim Cornette’s backing as manager was able to make him look that interesting.
Talking about his relationship with Vince McMahon in the WWE, Severn described his old boss as someone who could get away with “whatever he thinks he can get away with.” He also talked about WWE’s creative team, with McMahon in charge as always, throwing him “crazy” angles after he failed to get over as a babyface, and the way he describes it, it almost seems as if WWE had him in mind as a potential member of The Acolytes, who would form in late 1998 and join The Undertaker’s Ministry of Darkness faction soon after.
"All of a sudden they pitch me ideas when they want to tattoo 666 on me, the mark of the beast, and all of these other crazy ideas,” Severn recalled, without specifying what those other ideas are.
As seen in this 2015 report from Wrestling Inc., this isn’t the first time Severn has talked about this aborted angle, which he claimed back then was so silly and potentially offensive that it convinced him that the WWE was not for him at that point in his career. Instead of joining the Ministry of Darkness, Severn mostly treaded water in WWE’s lower-card in 1998, and was most notable that year for winning his first-round match in the Brawl for All shoot fighting tournament, only to quit the tournament right after his victory.
With the likes of Matt Riddle having successfully crossed over from the UFC to pro wrestling, and Ronda Rousey potentially doing the same in the months to come, Dan Severn was indeed a trailblazer as a mixed martial artist-turned wrestler. It's a shame that WWE never knew how to maximize his talents, much like they often did with Ken Shamrock.