American Top Team and 9 other wrestling stables that featured MMA fighters

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Although professional wrestling may be a staged combat sport, it still has a history closely tied to mixed martial arts thanks to the likes of Masahiko Kimura, Gene LeBelle, Karl Gotch and Antonio Inoki, who were all recognized professional wrestlers. to be MMA pioneers. . Over the years, many MMA fighters have transitioned into professional wrestling, some of whom started out as wrestlers to begin with.

RELATED: 10 Things Wrestling Fans Should Know About Karl Gotch

Rather than bashing MMA fighters turned wrestlers, let’s go a little more specific and talk about 10 pro wrestling factions that may have fighters from various promotions in their ranks, including All Elite Wrestling.

ten Best American Team

After appearances in Major League Wrestling and Impact Wrestling – being affiliated with Bobby Lashley in the latter – Dan Lambert’s stable American Top Team debuted in AEW in 2021. With mostly MMA fighters among its members like Junior Dos Santos, Austin Vanderford and Paige VanZant, American Top Team became the opponent of the Inner Circle faction, going so far as to take on Inner Circle in a street fight in Minneapolis in 2021. Full equipment pay per view. Even the group’s full-time wrestlers, Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky, have experience in “legitimate” fights.


9 The NWA

One of the forgotten storylines of WWE’s Attitude era was the invasion angle featuring representatives of the National Wrestling Alliance, organized into a stable called The NWA. Led by Jim Cornette, the group included Barry Windham, Jeff Jarrett and The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express. Despite the old school vibes, however, the NWA also included Dan “The Beast” Severn, who not only has a record of 101-19-7, but is also the only three-time champion in UFC history. In wrestling, Severn held the NWA World Heavyweight title from 1995 to 1999, making him the third longest reigning champion in history.

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8 Main Event Mafia

While the original Main Event Mafia in Impact Wrestling was a heel group devoted to keeping young wrestlers in the business, in 2013 the group returned to battle the encroaching motorcycle gang faction Aces & Eights. Along with Sting, Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe and Magnus, the group had an MMA fighter in Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.

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Rampage Jackson had a direct rival in Aces & Eights in fellow MMA fighter Tito Ortiz, but MMA promotion Bellator pulled both men from Impact television because they had an upcoming fight against each other.

7 Team 2000

Formed by Masahiro Chono in response to his former faction, nWo Japan, turned babyface, Team 2000 proved to be New Japan Pro Wrestling’s top heel group in the late 1990s and early 2000s. wrestlers like Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan was Don Frye, who fought for the UFC in the 1990s and even won the UFC 8 tournament. In NJPW, Frye was a staple during his time with the company, competing in various tag matches alongside his stablemates from Team 2000 and even challenging for the IWGP Heavyweight title three times.


6 diamond mine

Introduced in mid-2021, the NXT Diamond Mine stable started out as MMA-style heels, though they’ve since evolved into more gray lineups. Originally made up of Roderick Strong, Malcolm Bivens, Hachiman (aka Hideki Suzuki) and Tyler Rust, 2021’s standout group eventually lost the latter two and gained The Creed Brothers and Ivy Nile. Ivy Nile is famous for appearing on NBC’s Titan Gamesbut she also competed in MMA as a flyweight in 2018, going 0-1-0.

5 Sugiura Gun

One of Pro Wrestling NOAH’s top stars, Takashi Sugiura is a four-time GHC Heavyweight Champion and formed his own faction, Sugiura-Gun, in 2019, and counts three MMA fighters among its members so far. Alongside Kazunari Murakami, who transitioned from fighting to wrestling in the late 1990s, is Kazuyuki Fujita, who fought for Pride, Rizin and K-1 in addition to being a three-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion. and once GHC Heavyweight champion. More importantly, however, is Kazushi Sakuraba. Originally a professional wrestler, in MMA, Sakuraba is considered one of the greatest of all time, and his major victories over members of the famous Gracie family earned him the nickname “Gracie Hunter”.


4 The society

Arguably the biggest heel group of the Attitude era, The Corporation consisted of WWE boss Vince McMahon, various members of his family, stooges Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco, and stalwart heels like The Rock and Big Boss Man as well as Ken Shamrock.

RELATED: 10 Best Ken Shamrock Matches Of All Time, Ranked

Starting out as a professional wrestler in the late 1980s, Shamrock transitioned into MMA, making his fighting debut for Minoru Suzuki’s Pancrase before moving on to the UFC, Pride and Bellator. His notoriety in MMA earned him the nickname “the most dangerous man alive” and Shamrock returned to the squared circle in 1997 when he signed with WWE.

3 dirty team

Led by “Filthy” Tom Lawlor, who started out as a wrestler before entering MMA and fighting in the UFC lightweight division, the Filthy team started out in Major League Wrestling. There, the band featured names like Simon Gotch, Ken Doane, Fred Yehi and Erick Stevens.

Since then, Lawlor has moved on to New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he leads a new version of his stable, which has included JR Kratos, future LAX member Danny Limelight and Royce Isaacs. As part of Team Filthy, Lawlor held the MLW World Heavyweight Championship as well as the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship.

2 capture point

Before Diamond Mine, there was Catch Point. Formed by Drew Gulak in EVOLVE in the mid-2010s, the group was led by Stokely Hathaway (later known as Malcolm Bivens) and included “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams, TJ Perkins, Fred Yehi and Matt Riddle. Prior to becoming a professional wrestler, Riddle fought in MMA, racking up an 8-3 record overall. In the UFC, Riddle had racked up an impressive winning streak before a positive test for marijuana prompted his release from the company and several of his wins removed from his record.


1 Suzuki gun

Beloved by Western fans, New Japan Pro Wrestling’s cruel heel Minoru Suzuki transitioned from professional wrestling to MMA when he co-founded the aforementioned Pancrase promotion in 1993, making him a pioneer in modern mixed martial arts. There he would become King of Pancrase, but would return to professional wrestling in 2003. In New Japan, Suzuki usurped Satoshi Kojima as the leader of the Kojima-Gun faction, remaking it as Suzuki-Gun. Alongside Suzuki are El Desperado members Taichi, Zack Saber Jr. and Lance Archer.


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