The wrestling and the hip-hop cultures are one and the same. You have your supervillains (R.I.P. MF DOOM) or heels in wrestling terms. You got your heroes or babyfaces like Rey Mysterio. You also have charismatic divas like Nicki Minaj and Trish Stratus. Obviously, you have your violence and gore, big-wig egotistical executives, and anti-heroes that don't trust anybody. In music, it could be artists that do not trust 360 deals from a major label and go independent.
People who indulge in the world of sports entertainment and rap music live vicariously through these characters. Fans curate playlists to motivate them to have a Hustler's Ambition like 50 Cent or play some XXX Tentacion (R.I.P.) songs that get them through tough times due to how that person can relate to his pain. Just like any form of arts and entertainment media, there are die-hard fans that represent the culture until they die. The G.O.A.T. conversations in rap and wrestling are always expanding as more and more generations come about. In wrestling, some people argue that Hulk Hogan did more for the industry than a John Cena or a Brock Lesnar. In rap, people argue that Wayne is better than Jay-Z or Eminem. It's one and the same.
There are also very mysterious characters that capture the awe of fans and leave them asking for more. We have seen that recently with The Undertaker showing more of his personal life as Mark Calloway. The same way that Taker kept his life professionally and personally a mystery for thirty years draws similar comparisons to Daniel Dumile and his MF DOOM persona. This article is made to examine the different times that hip-hop and wrestling have crossed over in different forms of media.
Ron Killings (R-Truth)
In the HOT 97 clip, the first-ever African-American NWA Champion discussed how his life shifted from rap to wrestling. He discusses the time when he met 2Pac at a Jack The Rapper event which was an iconic hip-hop event that was huge in the early days of hip-hop. R-Truth credited the event for helping him land a job with NWA thanks to meeting Jack Crockett, the brother of the NWA president. When Ron would walk down the ring, he would rap his theme song throughout his career. His music can be found under his name Ron Killings on all social media if you're interested in hearing his music outside of the wrestling realm.
Photo credit: 2paclegacy.net
The Puerto-Rican rapper is an emphatic wrestling fan. He is also one of the most popular artists in music today. When Wrestlemania 37 was weeks away, Bad Bunny ended up in a tag team angle with Damian Priest beefing with the tag-team duo of Miz and [John] Morrison. Bunny would be featured in promos for several months as he rapped his song, Booker T, as Booker T made his approach to the ring in the Royal Rumble, winning the 24/7 title only to pass it down to R-Truth and helping his Wrestlemania tag-team partner Damian Priest from random attacks. His Wrestlemania debut was met with very high remarks, breaking a bad history of celebrities wrestling on the grandest stage of them all. Wrestling Twitter broke that night with all the praise Bunny got from active and retired wrestlers. Plus, he hits one hell of a Canadian Destroyer, so you know the training he had to prepare for that match definitely paid off.
Smoke DZA, Wale, and Westside Gunn
(From left to right) Westside Gunn, Smoke DZA, Wale, and wrestler MVP together posing for the cover art of The Hurt Business Remix. They all share verses on the song.
Smoke DZA, Wale, and Westside Gunn are the Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Hulk Hogan of wrestling rap. Wale and former WWE writer Court Bauer created the famous Walemania event that would take place prior to the "Showcase of the Immortals". When discussing the origins of the event on Sportingnews, Wale credited Court as the guy who first came up with the idea. Wale stated in the same article that he always wanted his own promotion like a WWE or WCW but there were plenty of obstacles that came with it. He always wanted to be a part of the culture in some aspect and Walemania did exactly that. The first installment of the annual event featured a live panel with wrestling critic Dave Meltzer, Rey Mysterio, and Konnan, live podcast recordings from wrestlers, and a show from Wale. Current WWE superstar Big E credited Walemania for bridging the gap between wrestling fans and hip hop fans.
In that same Sportingnews article, WWE superstar Big E described Walemania like this: “This bridge between wrestling and hip hop is something that we never really explored,” said WWE superstar Big E, who has attended several WaleManias. “There are so many rappers who drop wrestling references in their lyrics, from 80s WWF to the current product. We (WWE) are not always on the ball with what’s relevant from a cultural standpoint. I don’t think there’s another hip-hop act who could pull this off. Wale’s passion for this is on another level. He lives and breathes this. It means so much to him. I can’t imagine anybody else that has the passion to pull this off.”
Fellow rapper and wrestling aficionado Smoke DZA credited Walemania for doing the same thing. Smoke DZA has countless mixtapes over classic wrestling theme songs such as the theme song of the chilling villain Jake "The Snake" Roberts on Ringside 2 or being the "Doctor of Buddanomics" over the John Cena instrumental on Ringside 3. New Jack is a song that plenty of Smoke DZA fans remembers not just for his rapping skills, but also for incorporating one of the most polarizing figures in wrestling history, New Jack. The wrestler is known for his ability to no-sell weapon shots and having his head stapled during a wrestling match. In layman's terms, no selling means that the person who receives a wrestling move or a chair shot looks harmful.
Westside Gunn is one of the most perennial faces when it comes to discussing the crossover between the hip-hop and wrestling cultures. The Buffalo emcee has plenty of songs named after wrestlers such as Undertaker vs Goldberg featuring Conway and Lucha Bros with Benny The Butcher and Curren$y or Pay-Per view events like Summerslam 88 and Wrestlemania 20 featuring Anderson .Paak. Westside can be seen on social media giving love to indie and major platform wrestlers whenever he can. For example, on his Twitter, he gives his roses to AEW's TBS Champion Jade Cargill, and Jade returns the favor from time to time. Westside Gunn is also notorious for having wrestlers themselves appear on his mixtapes giving praise back to the artist. In his extensive mixtape catalog, Westside would have wrestling icons make appearances on his projects from Ric Flair to the famous Mouth of The South Jimmy Hart.
I feel like Westside, Wale, and Smoke DZA need to be featured in wrestling video games as their own characters. Sure you can make your own wrestlers in video games now, but we need some developers at 2k or Yukes Media to make a game with them as their own characters.
Skip to 2:13 to see all of Fred's wrestling video game features.
Speaking of which... the late nineties and early 2000s video games had Fred Durst on everything. Fred and his band Limp Bizkit are the people behind one of The Undertaker's theme songs when he was in his biker era. Fred Durst would have the same motorcycle entrance as the American Badass himself in some of the games and Durst would pull up in a lowrider on SmackDown! Just Bring It. Like the time period itself, it was an interesting point in the Deadman's career. In 1999 he went from being a satanic overlord to a glimpse of his personal self, a true biker. Undertaker left the industry to rehab injuries as a lord of darkness and returned in 2000 as a biker with no explanation for the dramatic character change. Got to love wrestling, right?
Run D.M.C. & DX
In that same time frame as Durst appearing in every wrestling game he can, I have to remind people of a lesser-known song RUN D.M.C. made. It was an alternate version of the D-Generation X entrance song. The video perfectly fits the style of the group of degenerates, as they cause mayhem out in the streets with the leader of DX, Triple H.
John Cena and The Trademarc
Pav of @WrestlingGifs on Twitter covered this topic perfectly. I would suggest watching the full video after reading the article as he discusses the album itself. To summarize the topic, John Cena was about to get cut from WWE in 2002, and if it wasn't for him rapping to fans and on buses during tours, gaining the attention of Vince McMahon's daughter, Stephanie. Cena was asked to rap for his gimmick and it saved his career.
In 2005, during the peak of his popularity at the time after winning his first WWE championship, he released a seventeen-track rap album that sold 143,000 in the first week! Oh, did I mention that his album with Trademarc went platinum? Almost a decade later, Cena recorded two songs with Wiz Khalifa for the WWE 2k15 soundtrack.
The Def Jam Video Game Series
616 Entertainment gave a fantastic retrospective video on Def Jam Vendetta and the Fight For New York sequel. It is a fantastic video that explains the creation of the Vendetta video game. Without giving too much of the video away, I'll tell you a summary of it. In 2001, Vince McMahon bought out his competition WCW. WCW was in the middle of working on another video game. Due to WCW being bought out by Vince McMahon, the game developers couldn't use the former WCW stars' likenesses. One of the team members thought of the idea of having rappers face each other and with eight months left before the team had to contractually put out a video game, they began working on Vendetta. Watch the YouTube video to see the rappers work with the developers on creative meetings and how they fight in the video games.
Snoop Dogg has his hands in everything. Especially wrestling, his cousin is WWE superstar and multiple-time women's champion, Sasha Banks. Snoop is also a celebrity inductee in the WWE Hall of Fame and even has a match in All Elite Wrestling in his resume. It would have been blasphemous to not include him in this article.
Written by: Jay Guevara. @justinhisprime on all social media.
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