If you watched Wrestlemania, NXT Takeover, ROH Supercard of Hour, or any other wrestling event over the weekend you may have picked up a ‘rock n roll’ or party vibe to it, this is nothing new. Rock and wrestlling have went hand-in-hand for decades.
Records of the world of professional wrestling mixing with the music industry goes as far back as the 1950s when female champion Mildred Burke entered the ring with a theme tune. If you have ever watched wrestling, you know this is now a staple in any wrestler’s persona – in fact it’s more shocking when a wrestler DOESN’T have their own music (see: Andre The Giant, to a lesser degree Dolph Ziggler). Fans of British wrestling will even remember Big Daddy coming out to ‘We Shall Not Be Moved’ in the ’70s.
As you may know – it doesn’t end there. Wrestling, as a business, as always gelled with other forms of pop culture: whether it be movies, TV, comics, gaming, and indeed rock music. In the 1980s, Vince McMahon (owner of WWE,then WWF) even compared their shows to a rock concert in comparison to the old fashioned format of ‘sports entertainment’. Ever since the first Wrestlemania in 1984, musicians have been involved in big wrestling events. Usually performing, or if you are lucky enough – being inducted into the prestigious WWE Hall Of Fame.
The connection doesn’t even end there as a lot of wrestlers have tried their hand at the old rock ‘n’ roll malarkey, or sometimes the other way around. In no particular order, here are ten instances rock and metal acts have been involved in the world of wrestling. Some step slightly outside the realm of rock but not too much or we would be here all day.
1)Kid Rock is in the Hall Of Fame
Why not start this with the most recent instance. The country/ rap/rock star is now an inductee into WWE’s Hall Of Fame which also includes in-ring legends like Ric Flair, Andre The Giant, Shawn Michaels and erm… Donald Trump. Some disagree with his position in the HOF because his association with the US president, and WWE’s connection to the White House, however Mr. Ritchie has provided music for several wrestlers since 2001 from The Undertaker using an edited version of ‘American Bad Ass‘ until they replaced it with ‘Rollin” by Limp Bizit (more on that later) Plus he covered ‘Legs’ by ZZ Top for Stacey Kiebler. Most wrestling fans argue an actual wrestler like Owen Hart or Chyna should be inducted, if not a musician with more credibility like Lemmy or Cyndi Lauper. Credit where credit is due, the ‘Devil Without A Cause’ has performed at Wrestlemania 25 in 2009, at Tribute To The Troops in 2012, and also wrote several tracks used at PPVs. Check out this rare footage of Kid Rock backstage at Raw in 2001
2) The Misfits step into a WCW ring
Most ‘celebrity’ appearances in the squared-circle usually involve cringe-worthy comedy segments or ways for heels to get heat from the fans (that means ‘make you hate the bad guy’ in layman’s terms). Every once in a while, the guests will actually get involved in matches. One of the most memorable bands to do this punk legends The Misfits. This was the line-up including Michale Graves, Doyle, Dr. Chud and Jerry Only. They often assisted the pale-faced grappler Vampiro, who actually came up with the idea of getting Misfits involved when the creative team had nothing for him in terms of story-lines. Jerry Only even WON a steel-cage match against the iconic ‘Dr Death’ Steve Williams. What happened next? Doyle met Gorgeous George (Randy Savage’s manager not the ’50s wrestler) who he formed a band with, married and later divorced. Vamprio used Misfits ‘Kong At The Gates’ as his entrance music and later formed a stable with Insane Clown Posse…and The KISS Demon – who we will get on to later…
3)Wrestlers turned (w)rock stars: Fozzy, Junior, Jeff Hardy and more.
There’s too many to mention when it comes to wrestlers joining bands, or releasing albums, but the most famous is probably Chris Jericho and Fozzy. He often gets asked “What made you go from wrestling to a rock band” he doesn’t generally like to cross over his careers, even taking the stage name ‘Mongoose McQueen’ in the early days of Fozzy and later making it part of his wrestling gimmick that he was, in actual fact, a rock star. Releasing their debut album in 2000, a lot of people argue they get a lot of attention having of of the most popular wrestlers of all time on vocals, but some even argue being in Fozzy actually boosted his popularity in the wrestling business.
As most wrestlers are basically rock stars, it doesn’t end with the ‘Ayatollah of Rock N Roll-a’ Jericho: British WWE star Mark Andrews is the vocalist and bassist in rising pop-punk band Junior which have been used as Andrew’s theme as well as featuring ‘Broken’ Matt Hardy in a wrestling-themed videos (below).
I can’t ignore Jeff Hardy’s efforts in the world of rock under the name of PeroxWhy?Gen (me neither). As someone who cites Marilyn Manson as one of his idols, Jeff Hardy’s music is totally … bland (see below). It’s not just the lads who have dabbled in a music career: Mickie James has had a very successful stint country music, John Cena released a rap album, and Lita was in the punk-rock outfit Luchagores.
4)Alice Cooper meets ‘The Snake’
As mentioned earlier, celebrity involvement in the annual Wrestlemania broadcast is mandatory. Usually by someone who is a pretty big deal, think Mr T at the first ‘Mania in 1984, or Kim Kardashian ‘hosting’ in 2008. Don’t worry, some the involvements were pretty cool. The most notable being Alice Cooper at the third ever ‘Mania. This is often seen as one of the best Wrestlemanias of all time, famous for it’s main event between Hulk Hogan vs Andre The Giant. But I digress. When you think of Alice Cooper’s image, what comes to mind? The make-up?OK. Fake blood? Perhaps. A live snake? Bingo! So h is the perfect fit to be the guest manager for the wrestler who is famous for carrying a live snake to the ring (named ‘Damien’) – Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts. Who was taking on the sneaky Elvis impersonator Honky Tonk Man. Alice got amongst the action by releasing ‘Damien on to Tonk’s manager Jimmy Hart, as well as handing Roberts a guitar to use as a weapon. Alice even spoke about the appearance on his YouTube channel earlier this year (below). WE’RE NOT WORTHY!!
Bringing it right up to date – Alice Cooper’s current guitarist, Nita Strauss (also of The Iron Maidens), performed at Wrestlemania 34. This was part of the elaborate entrance for WWE’s ‘resident rock star’ Shinsuke Nakamura. See the interview below
5)Ozzy the manager, and presenter.
Apart from being a metal pioneer – Ozzy Osbourne and his family are known for being dog lovers, as seen in ’00s reality show The Osbournes. Wrestling fans, however, saw him handle two other ‘dogs’ at Wrestlemania 2 as the manager of his fellow countrymen – The British Bulldogs. Unlike Alice Cooper at Mania 3, Ozzy didn’t get involved in the match so much despite donning a nice peach-coloured suit and blonde locks. Ozzy did return to WWE with his wife Sharon in 2009 during the ‘guest host’ phase of Raw (I can hear the collective ‘ugh’ of wrestling fans reading that). Nevertheless, The Ozzman did get more involved this time, albeit on a parody of Britain’s Got Talent (sigh) and even got involved in some promos. Check out some highlights below. I think they might have been having words with their agents after this:
6)Megadeth ‘Crush ‘Em’ on WCW Nitro
If anyone watched WCW in the late 90s know it was dominated by Goldberg. Even non-wrestling fans know who Goldberg is, he’s been in enough movies now and has had his face plastered on a hellova lot of wrestling merch over the years. Bill Goldberg is also a big fan of Megadeth, and persuaded his bosses to get them to perform live on their flagship show Nitro (below). What track did they perform? ‘Symphony Of Destruction’? ‘Holy Wars’? Don’t be silly it – was their latest single ‘Crush ‘Em’ which was also the theme for Goldberg at the time, and track to promote Universal Soldier: The Return... starring Goldberg. And also used in many montages hyping the return of … you guessed it… Goldberg. Goldberg was also in the music video, strangely enough. Fun fact: Goldberg is actually a semi-regular actor on sitcom The Goldbergs. Now I’m going off on a Goldberg…I mean tangent.
Compared to it’s rival WWF, WCW actually had a lot of musical guests (as you will see later in this list). This actually has some relevancy to today’s wrestling scene as Goldberg returned to the ring briefly last year, and has been inducted in to the Hall Of Fame alongside The Dudley Boyz, Ivory, and of course Kid Rock. Earlier this year WWE Raw had their first ‘Symphony of Destruction’ match which involved Braun Strowman beating up Elias with a number of instruments. As you can imagine, there were a lot of Megadeth references made by the commentary team.
7)Insane Clown Posse are wrestling superstars – how does that work?
Ask people how they know who ICP are, some will say the “Fuckin’ Magnets” meme, some for their odd music, and some even through the world of wrestling. There’s a lot to cover so here’s a condensed version: since the late ’90s ICP has been involved in every major wrestling promotion. Starting in 1997 they performed at ECW’s Hardcore Heaven and were attacked by heels Rob Van Dam and Sabu. Fast-forward to WWF in 1998 – where they were part of ‘The Oddities’ faction, which wasn’t that popular, but ICP did get involved in a few matches. Famously against rocker gimmick tag-team The Headbangers (Thrasher and Mosh).
Like The Misfits they formed a faction with Vampiro in WCW, which also included Japanese legend The Great Muta and The KISS Demon (we’re getting on to that, don’t worry). They even commentated on a few matches, as well as competing in a few. Skip to 2002 and ICP appeared in no-frills ‘shoot wrestling’ show Ring Of Honour. As you can imagine… this didn’t go to well with the crowd. Finally in 2004, the Clowns appeared in TNA, being involved in story-lines this time. All this and I haven’t even mentioned they performed in independent companies, as well as forming their own in 1999 (Juggalo Championship Wrestling) which still runs today. If that’s not enough they are playable characters in the Backyard Wrestling video games.
8)Limp Bizkit: WWE’s favourite band
Yep, you read that right – WWE was a nu metal kid in the early 00s, like the best of us. The weird relationship between Fred Durst’s marmite metal band and the E began shortly after the release of Chocolate Starfish: For some reason ‘Rollin’ (Air Raid Vehicle)’ was assigned as The Undertaker’s new theme music (not long after Kid Rock had the same honour) WWF even put their own spin on it by adding the signature church bell and ‘Taker saying “Rest In Peace”. This was the case until mid 2002. Durst, Borland, and co. must have raked the royalties in. Following this success, and the new found popularity of the Limp ones, WWE used ‘My Way’ as the official song for Wrestlemania X7 – often considered the ‘best’ of the ‘Manias. Subsequently the song was also used in the now iconic promo video for the Austin/ Rock clash which defined the event (below).Youtube podcast OSW Reviews even used different Limp Bizkit songs for each match when reviewing the event.
Their roll (no pun intended) didn’t end there. The story goes: In order WWE to get permission to use ‘Rollin” in their latest video game (Smackdown!: Just Bring It!) Durst wanted to be included in the game as an unlockable character.Whether that was the deal or not is stuff of urban legends. But yes, that’s right you can wrestle as Freddy D who arrives in the white car from the ‘Rollin” video. What cemented them as “WWE’s favourite band”: the fact they performed TWICE at ‘Mania XIX for Undertaker’s entrance (‘Rollin”). As well as providing the theme for the event – the classic track ‘Crack Addict’…uhm… not the most PC thing to lead a huge entertainment event but, whatever. Finally ‘Build A Bridge’ was used at Survivor Series 2003 and since Durst has been spotted in WWE audiences, possibly getting inspiration for his next album. Possibly.
9)Motorhead crown the ‘King Of Kings’
In 2015 we sadly had to say goodbye to the rock god that was Lemmy. Big names who paid tribute to him at his funeral included Dave Grohl, Slash, and Triple H. Some wondered why a wrestler spoke at his funeral. Well as well as being a life long fan, Motorhead were instrumental in creating Triple H’s image by providing several theme songs for him, and even striking up a friendship with the ‘Cerebral Assassin’.
As you have seen previously in this list it’s not unusual to see legendary rockers at wrestling events. Even in 2001 when nu-metal and punk-pop was king, Motorhead performing at Wrestlemania X7 (yes the one Limp Bizkit provided the theme to) was still a real treat for fans. Legend has it that Lemmy wasn’t 100% while performing ‘The Game’ for Triple H’s entrance against The Undertaker (I’ve mentioned Limp Bizkit enough, join the dots). This wasn’t the last we heard of the Motorhead/ Trips alliance. As Triple H’s character progressed he started dressing similar to to Lemmy with the handlebar tasche, leather jackets and torn jeans. It was only fitting they would return at ‘Mania 21 for an encore performance of ‘The Game’ after using ‘Line In The Sand’ for Triple H and Ric Flair led faction Evolution for some years.
The following year – Triple H was the self-proclaimed ‘King of Kings’ and this obviously came with a new Motorhead track. Entering in full Conan-esque gear against John Cena at ‘Mania 22. Along with Like Bizkit, and to some extent Kid Rock – Motorhead at this point are one of the bands on Vince McMahon’s speed dial. ‘Head tracks would be used at several following WWE PPVs, most notably the Triple H booked NXT Take Over: London. For such an iconic city, surely we need an iconic track. ‘Ace Of Spades’ it is! Fans are still waiting with bated breath for the Motohead boys to be inducted into the HOF but so far – no cigar. C’mon Vince! Snoop Dogg is in there for crying out loud!
10)The KISS Demon in WCW
Facepaint, spandex, glitter, whacky characters and apenchant for the OTT – KISS were the perfect band to crossover in the world of wrestling in the 90s. Some call it selling out, and some call it good business – but KISS had literally every piece of merch possible at this point – they even had an American Football team ( LA Kiss). Why not cash in on the wrestling boom of the 1990s? Enter WCW’s The Demon. Initially played by Bryan ‘Crush’ Adams (not the singer) and then replaced with former baseball coach Dale Torborg, who was actually bassist Gene Simmons’ first choice to represent his character.
“I was really pumped,” Torborg told WWE.com in a retrospective feature. “It was a dream of mine to represent Kiss, which I feel is the greatest band in the world.” In true KISS style, the band performed ‘God Of Thunder’ live to unveil the character. This was meant to be the first in a line of KISS characters coming to the squared-circle, but due to the unpopularity of The Demon, this never happened. In his later days, the Demon joined Insane Clown Posse, The Great Mutaand Vampiro in a faction called ‘The Dark Carnival’.
His most notable matches were against Terry Funk and a ‘main event’ at Superbrawl against The Wall. A pretty forgettable bout. In 2001 – WCW was bought by their rival WWF (now WWE), who never hired Torborg. Thus The Demon was no more and Torborg went back to baseball.
- Edge using Rob Zombie’s ‘Never Gonna Stop’ and Alter Bridge’s ‘Metalingus’ as themes.
- NXT and Progress Wrestling tent at Download
- Code Orange performing at NXT Take Over: Brooklyn
- Lzzy Hale performing at NXT Take Over: New Orleans
- Black Label Society, Good Charlotte, new Found Glory and more as guests on Wrestling Society X.
- The endless guitarist gimmicks in WWE,WCW,etc.
- CM Punk appearing in a Frank Turner video.
- Seth Rollins getting spotted at metal gigs.
- Billy Corgan’s involvment with TNA
- Billy Corgan buying NWA
Anything we missed? Would you like to see more wrestling content? Let us know in the comments or via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or carrier pigeon.