With the surprise announcement at WrestleMania that Brock Lesnar has re-signed with WWE while also actively pursuing the UFC heavyweight title, it’s fair to say that this is the most consequential MMA/pro wrestling crossover since Kazuyuki Fujita entered the PRIDE Grand Prix in 2000.
It’s extremely rare for an active MMA fighter to be wrestling at the same time. It’s even rarer that the fighter is signed to the top organizations in both sports while holding or pursuing their respective top belts. But that scenario coupled with Bellator fighter Bobby Lashley’s reappearance on Raw is a feat almost never seen outside of Japan.
In fact, the Brock/Lashley signings are one of the only times two active MMA fighters in the top two promotions are fighting under the same pro wrestling banner. Of course, Japan’s history of shoot fights, possible worked shoots, and MMA/wrestling sub-promotions in K-1, New Japan Pro Wrestling, HUSTLE, FMW, W*ING, and RINGS muddies this quite a bit.
In many cases in Japanese MMA, it’s large eastern stars that are in relatively big promotions. This is nearly unprecedented in the west. Nothing quite like it has happened since Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn was a part of the WWF Attitude Era. But Ken Shamrock was wrestling full-time while Severn was still racking up wins in barns across the country. This is active fighters being active wrestlers.
Granted, Bobby Lashley hasn’t fought since 2016 and won’t be fighting anytime soon, but it’s still worth taking a look back at the last time MMA invaded wrestling in such a prominent fashion.