It’s the weekend that wrestling fans wait for every single year: WrestleMania weekend! That one time a year where fans of the WWE dive into four days of non-stop wrestling and there’s nothing you can do about it. But it’s not just the power bombs and suplexes that are heavy hitting this weekend; it’s the music selection of some of the best wrestlers in the world. From glam metal to hardcore, from grime to grunge, WWE Superstars press play with us on what music gets them pumped before the biggest weekend on the professional wrestling calendar.
In recent years, former World Champion Dolph Ziggler has made his lifelong love for glam metal that much more visible to the fans. What with his character transitioning from a high-spirited, brawler with his hair at a really awkward length to a long-haired, grizzled veteran who wants to make it really clear to us that he wears his music taste on his sleeve, or in one case in 2015, on his legs.
“For a couple of years when I was wearing shorts [in the ring] I was inspired by a lot of things but I never really got what I wanted”, says Ziggler. “I’m a big Motley Crüe fan and I love wearing that stuff, so the 2015 Survivor Series gear [inspired by Motley’s 1981 album Too Fast For Love] was awesome. I loved that gear”.
Ziggler even found a custom wrestling-gear designer who shares his passion and love for the glam. “I got hold of a guy, Rick Michaels, and I can give him an 80% explanation of an album cover that I’ve seen and a quote from something like a Ratt song, and he will take it all the way!”. Dolph’s epic glam inspired ring gear collection also features a very cool denim patch vest, which includes a misspelt Megadeth patch (he added an A to the band’s name, so he technically spelt it correctly?), as well as an array of Motley Crüe, Van Halen and Steel Panther shirts worn to the ring and during mic-spots.
From the obvious one to a surprise packet, trained ballroom dancer and member of the “Fashion Police”, Fandango has a music taste that surprised even me when I found out. Underneath the flashy, shiny pants are two legs littered with tattoos dedicated to bands like Rage Against The Machine, Avenged Sevenfold and Chino Moreno’s two bands – Deftones and Crosses, as seen in the WWE Superstar Ink web-series.
But growing up in Maine and the New England straightedge scene has left a lasting impression on Fandango. “The hardcore scene was a huge influence to my youth” the 36-year-old wrestler states, “I went to see Chino and Deftones a lot as a kid in 1999/2000 as well as early shows of Lamb Of God and Killswitch Engage. I used to skateboard as a kid and the Deftones were a massive influence on our crew at the time”.
But it’s not just ‘Dango who is flying the metal flag for the Fashion Police with his tag-team partner Tyler Breeze opening up about some bands he listens to often “I grew up listening to AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses thanks to my parents and they’ve stuck with me, but I’m also a big fan of Lzzy Hale and Halestorm”.
But, like in any workplace, friendship group or collection of people, the female superstars like their music just as heavy as the fellas do, with former Women’s Champion (and Owen’s favourite wrestler) Becky Lynch confessing to us her love for a few of KYS’s favourite bands.
“I’m a big Rise Against fan [as seen on her Instagram story as she regularly posts her favourite tunes from the band]. Most of the time I put on the Rise Against station and just go to town”, the Irish Lass Kicker tells us. “I’m also a big Rage Against The Machine and Pearl Jam fan. Although I can only listen to a few songs at a time, otherwise I’ll be sitting there in the squat rack in tears” she laughs.
Staying in the women’s division, it is no secret that English superstar Paige is an avid follower of the heavy music scene, with constant posts on her socials showing her hanging out at hardcore shows, a few years back at Self Help Festival and with scores of international metal bands. So with her strong connection to the scene, surely she has some ideas of who she would want to play her hard-hitting entrance song live at a pay-per-view event one day.
“Obviously, I’m going to be a little bias and say Attila because my boyfriend is in the band. But I’ve been a big fan of the band for years anyway”. But when she isn’t on the road with the WWE managing the rookie stable Absolution, Paige is on the road with Attila. “I actually toured with them for a week. I had a few days off and Kalan (Attila’s bassist) asked if I wanted to join them on the Insane Clown Posse tour, so obviously I said yes” she enthusiastically remembered.“There were a lot of Juggalos there but also so many wrestling fans”.
Beyond the wrestlers themsleves, another show that had the entire pro wrestling world buzzing, with five of the best matches in the history of NXT featured on just one show, NXT TakeOver New Orleans had us salivating in excitement weeks before it even happened. Weeks ago, Louisiana natives Cane Hill were announced as the official #NXTLoud artist for the first of WWE’s in-ring shows of the WrestleMania weekend. Being featured artists for the event, this gave the heavy American quartet a chance to showcase two songs, ‘It Follows‘ and ‘Lord Of Flies‘ from their recent Rise Records release ‘Too Far Gone‘ to a wider more mainstream audience.
In Australian exclusive comments made to KYS, WWE Executive Vice President and well-known metal-head, Paul “Triple H” Levesque talked about his motives behind choosing Cane Hill to be associated with the event.
“The songs kick ass. But also, to me, it’s all about feel, so when we started the brand it felt like there were styles of music that were harder and edgier that fit the brand better”, he said.
Cane Hill opened up the stacked NXT TakeOver show with an absolutely massive performance of ‘It Follows‘ to get the sold out Smoothie King Centre ready for the 3-hour show ahead of them. The hometown heroes breezed through the track, with highlights from the last few months of NXT programming flashing on the screens behind them. Afterwards, Triple H expressed his pleasure with the song choice and Cane Hill’s overall performance at the start of the night, also stating how they relate so well to the NXT brand’s values.
“They were great. This song just felt right for this event.” He continues, “They are just young kids looking to catch a break, looking to make a name for themselves and looking to take it to the next level, sounds like it fits perfectly here, right?”.
Later in the night, Cane Hill returned to the stage with the help of Lzzy Hale of Halestorm to play a crushing rendition of Ember Moon’s theme song, Free The Flame, right before her match for the NXT Women’s Championship against former UFC fighter and training partner of WWE’s newest marque signing Ronda Rousey, Shayna Baszler. The combined force of Hale and Cane Hill gave the song a nice metalcore twist, adding some technical riffs, thanks to the always impressive guitar styling of Hale. Levesque spoke highly of the idea and explained how having musicians who are also wrestling fans playing on his events makes the experience very special for them, as well as the WWE.
“Lzzy has become a huge fan of the brand of NXT. When we called her to pitch the idea she was coming to the show anyway, as a fan. When they’re fans, to me then its about passion then its not somebody coming in for an opportunity for some PR. They are young and hungry and it feels right to have them because it fits well for this”.
Having a more or less underground heavy band like Cane Hill perform isn’t a foreign concept for NXT. Last year Code Orange played current NXT Champion Aleister Black to the ring for his match at TakeOver Brooklyn, with a performance that further helped the band launch into the stratosphere of heavy music.
So what will this impressive performance by Cane Hill and Lzzy Hale do for both of their career’s? Only time will tell!
You can listen to all of these interviews and more on the Rock You Like A Hurricanrana Podcast.