Ken Shamrock Recalls Refereeing WrestleMania Classic Bret Hart-Steve Austin Match

ken shamrock wrestlemania 13 steve austin bret hart

Ken Shamrock got to referee a WrestleMania classic between Bret Hart and Steve Austin, which the “World’s Strongest Man” is grateful for.

It is considered by many people to be one of the greatest pro wrestling matches of all time, not just in WWE, but anywhere in pro wrestling. When Bret “Hitman” Hart and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin faced off in the Submission Match at WrestleMania 13 (1997) in Chicago, they put on a tremendous performance that is still remembered fondly to this day.

The match would see Hart go into it with some of the fans cheering him while Austin was still a traditional heel that was booed. By the end of the match, after Austin passed out in the Sharpshooter, the fans were cheering Austin for his incredible performance while Hart was booed out of the building.

There may not be a match with a better conclusion since Hart put Austin in the Sharpshooter submission while Austin’s bloody face was full of red as the blood dripped into his teeth. The special guest referee Ken Shamrock called for the bell. Hart tried to attack more after the bell, but Ken Shamrock slammed him to stop that and Austin left to a standing ovation. It wasn’t just an incredible math, but it was also a very effective double turn as well, which is not easy to do.

At the time of the match, Ken Shamrock was a newcomer to WWE that had yet to wrestle for the company. Shamrock was known as the “World’s Dangerous Man” thanks to his success in the Ultimate Fighting Championships in the UFC’s early days. As a legit badass, Shamrock certainly fit the role of a tough guy referee to maintain order between the two hated rivals Hart and Austin.

In an interview with Steve Fall of WrestlingNewsco, Ken Shamrock spoke about how it was a risk to put him in that spot due to his lack of experience in pro wrestling.

“It was a risk. I mean, they had to take a risk on that because I wasn’t a pro wrestler and going into that match, I didn’t have any real experience, at least at that point. I did about five years prior or six years prior to that, but not at this level.”

“So going into it, I truly didn’t even know whether or not I was going to be able to do what I needed to do because referees are important in making sure matches go over because there’s certain things they have to do to make sure those spots count. I was in a few different situations where I had to make sure that happened.”

As he continued, Ken Shamrock expressed some doubt about whether he could actually be the referee of a match like that.

“When I was going in there, I remember thinking, ‘I don’t know if I could do this. I don’t know if I can pretend to be involved in this’ so I felt like well, I’ve always been that guy where I’ll just jump in and just see what happens and go out there and perform the best I can and we’ll just let the chips fall where they fall.”

Ken Shamrock recalled being very impressed by the Hart-Austin match and how it really looked like a fight.

“So I remember going out there and about five minutes into the match. I’m thinking to myself, man, I can’t believe what I’m seeing here. I mean, I couldn’t tell you the difference between what was happening when I was fighting in MMA as opposed to what they were doing in the wrestling ring. It was so believable and so good how those guys were performing, that I lost myself in the match and it just became normal to me.”

“I truly believe that that’s why people really put that WrestleMania 13 as one of the best wrestling matches ever up there, not saying it was the best because I haven’t been around that long, but you know, people saying that it’s right there with all of them. I agree because I was in there and I couldn’t tell the difference.”

While he is not a part of the WWE Hall of Fame right now, former Intercontinental Champion Ken Shamrock believes he should be in there.