MLW CEO Court Bauer recently appeared on AdFreeShows to discuss a wide range of topics, which included Bauer discussing Shane McMahon’s love of MMA, how Shane nearly purchased the fight promotion PRIDE, and how WWE almost brought in MMA star Bob Sapp. Highlights from the interview can be found below.
On Shane McMahon’s interest in MMA and how he wanted to purchase the promotion PRIDE:
I think he thought that this was where the business was going. It shared some of the DNA that wrestling has. He was also looking for his castle in the kingdom. ‘Here’s something I can run and have that has a similar business in terms of production, licensing, infrastructure and spreading it into this category seems pretty easy to do.’ Vince’s apprehension was always that you couldn’t control the outcome. You invest in these fighters and he felt, ‘we have a model that really works, why take the risk in something that is unpredictable?’ There was hesitation because in the late 90s, there was problems with athletic commissions. Was there doubts about Shane overseeing the castle in the kingdom? I don’t know. People suspected there could be something like that. It got serious enough that there were meetings, and I was privy to them. I loved PRIDE, I thought it was awesome. It was wrestling meets MMA and it was crazy. I didn’t know how you could replicate that because of the athletic commissions and other reasons, but I was fascinated to see what it could look like in some form. You have such charismatic fighters and unique guys from (Mirko) Cro Cop to Rampage (Quinton Jackson). It was fun. In the end, Vince flirted with it, but didn’t do it.
Says WWE had an interest in MMA star Bob Sapp, but that never came to fruition:
Similar to Bob Sapp, who at the time was huge in Japan and almost came in but there were issues with him. He didn’t want to work house shows, that was a big issue. Back then, he basically wanted the Brock (Lesnar) deal and Vince wouldn’t do that. You have to go out and earn your keep. He didn’t want high-end guarantees and then you didn’t have to work hard for it. There was feeling that, ‘then you’re in WCW territory. You’re sitting at home, you’re making your money, how motivated are you to make it when you’re getting a fat guarantee?’ Today, people are experimenting with that model more than ever. Brock is the current model, but Bob Sapp, they weren’t going to do it. Bob was at the shows and talking to Vince ringside and I thought we were very close to Sapp coming in and a few others that I thought would come in from PRIDE, but no dice.
(H/T and transcribed by Fightful)