2013 Marks the end of an era in the world of professional wrestling and mixed martial arts. It was recently announced that 2 Time former NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion Dan “The Beast” Severn would be concluding in professional in-ring career at the conclusion of 2013. Severn who will be 55 June 8th has already been voted into both the UFC Hall of Fame and the National Wrestling Alliance Hall of Fame. Although Severn still plans to remain active in Mixed Martial Art instructing and Seminars, he vows this will be his final year in competition.
I will no longer be stepping into the cage as a competitor… 2013 will be my final year in Professional Wrestling as a Performer... If you have been thinking about utilizing my skills as a performer, contact me and we'll make it happen in this upcoming year. I will continue, just like MMA to be involved in it, teaching it, running shows, doing appearances and such, just no longer the entertainer.
What I had always liked about Dan Severn was that he looked the part. I had always believed it was Severn’s time in the WWF that inspired WCW’s creation of Goldberg. You knew that when his music played, the Beast was going to destroy someone. While in the WWF, you always had the feeling the guys on the roster were nervous, even in the King of the Ring in 99, the Rock needed reinforcements to beat the guy. I first witnessed Severn in the “Shoot Fights” of the UWF-I, which were a Pro Wrestling/MMA Hybrid, like the precursor to UFC Fights. I would see Severn later competing in UFC and loved his no nonsense style that was based on grappling. Seeing him wear the “Icon of Professional Wrestling,” the NWA World Heavyweight Championship is what re-invigorated my passion of the National Wrestling Alliance. The first time I would see Severn live would be at the WWE’s Royal Rumble in Anaheim California on January 24th 1999. Severns most recent outing in Southern California was for the Wrestle Reunion 2012 where he was apart of the Legends Battle Royal.
At the height of his popularity as professional wrestler, Severn competed in the World Wrestling Federation. “I negotiated non exclusivity because I was working for the NWA. [There] was like 35 promoters in the NWA alone that I was working for at different times, on top of working for the WWF. I had a modified contract I did not work the full 187 dates like everybody else did. I basically negotiated sixty dates on an annual basis,” Severn told Victor Rodgers of the Legion of the Damned. The Self Described Throwback was symotaneously competing in MMA events, NWA Sanctioned Wrestling events and the WWF. It was this old school persona that really made Severn unique in this era, “A lot of people have stated I should have been wrestling with the likes of Bruno Sammartino, Lou Thesz and those kinds of individuals.” Severn was just what the NWA needed in a time where it became increasingly difficult to stay relevant.
Before Severn and the NWA began working together, the ECW Promotion held a tournament in which Shane Douglas won and unceremoniously tossed the belt to the floor to proclaim himself the ECW World Champion. It was a great day for ECW, but the repercussions of the move still affect the NWA today. On February 24, 1995, “The Beast” Dan Severn upset Chris Candido to win the NWA World title in Erlanger, KY. Severn had a long four-year title reign which included title defenses against wrestlers such as Devon Storm on June 24, 1995, Tarzan Goto on August 20, 1995 at Kawasaki Baseball Stadium… in a death match. “Yes, I had never been involved in something quite that bizarre. I’ve been on a few shows where I see that kind of stuff taking place. That’s a tough match to follow now. Because you know people see fluorescent bulbs bashed over people’s heads, and getting hit with the barbwire bats. I’m thinking “Now how are we supposed to follow that and just give them wrestling?” It seems that’s just a whole different entity in itself. I did not know years later that would be listed as one of the most coveted highlights there for me, being involved with a hardcore match.” During his first reign as champion, Severn would defend the NWA World Championship in Japan and the United States, but he would also defend the World Title in Malaysia against Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart and The Repo Man all the while working matches for NWA Members in the US, the World Wrestling Federation and fighting in Mixed Martial Arts.
When Severn stepped into the Octagon for the UFC on Pay Per View, he did so with an entourage that included NWA New Jersey Promoter, Dennis Carluzzo, who always made sure the Legendary 10lbs of Gold was in plain sight. “It was brought to their attention and they had some apprehension. I told them the story about it. I said that I was [going to] have one of my entourage… one of the NWA promoters… carrying the belt in my entourage. They had no problem with it then. I mean I’m not trying to exploit things in a bad way, I’m trying to exploit it in a good way.” Severn would go on to with several UFC Championships while holding the NWA Belt. “It was probably harder for me to make the transition from amateur wrestler to professional wrestler than I did from professional wrestler to No Holds Barred cage fighter that was pretty easy for me because my life has been a life of competition. So doing that portion was easy, the hard part was going from amateur wrestler to professional wrestler.
As The Beast slowly faded away from the spotlight of the UFC and his time coming to an end in the WWF, Severn would lose the NWA Crown to an Olympic Judo Silver Medalist. It was at Yokohoma Japan for New Japan Pro Wrestling, to Naoya Ogawa, Severn would step away from the pro wrestling ranks. The NWA would struggle to find an identity through various champions, even getting back into business with Severn when he defeated Shinya Hashimoto in Zero One in Tokyo Japan. It was only shortly after that TNA gained the exclusive rights to the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and stripped Severn of the title. Incidentally TNA’s first NWA World Champion was long time rival of Severn, Ken Shamrock. Severn is still active on the Independents and in Mixed Martial Arts. Promoters looking to use him better act quick, 2012 Severn's MMA In Ring is over, in 2013 his Wrestling In Ring will conclude.