World Wrestling Entertainment, better known as WWE, has been no stranger to embracing Hip-Hop and having artists headline different shows/pay-per-views. With Wrestlemania XXX airing tonight (April 6) via WWE Network, I thought it’d be great to look at how much of a FACE Hip-Hop has had within the WWE for the past 20 years. Yes, I said 20 years. This is in no exact chronological order, but I tried to keep it as chronological as possible. I just wanted to highlight the presence of Hip-Hop in wrestling.
Although it might seem as if it began in the Attitude Era it actually began at Wrestlemania V with pioneer Hip-Hop group, Run-DMC. Five years later there was a Wrestlemania rap for Wrestlemania X. This all happened in the late 80s early 90s when Hip-Hop was really making a name for itself and becoming mainstream.
Wrestlmania2000 was the first headlining event for the Attitude Era of Hip-Hop, but the wrestling group, The Oddities, started the Hip-Hop theme music trend in the late 90s. The Oddities consisted of: The Jackyl, Golga (Earthquake), Eric Cartman, Kurrgan, and Giant Silva. Their theme music, ‘The Greatest Show,’ was performed by Detroit Hip-Hop duo, Insane Clown Pose (ICP).
During the same time of The Oddities, Mike Tyson, was another celeb added to WWE appearances and his theme music was Big Daddy Kane’s, ‘Put Your Weight On It.’ He wasn’t the first boxer to enter a WWE ring as Muhammad Ali was there for Wrestlemania I. Then in 2008, roughly a decade after Tyson had made his ‘debut’ to the WWE, Floyd Mayweather took to the ring with his money making theme music to square off against The Big Show.
As far as Superstars, The Oddities weren’t the only ones to have Hip-Hop themed music, there have been countless others, including: John Cena, R-Truth, Mark Henry, Shane McMahon, Cryme Tyme, Big E, M.V.P., D-Generation X, Rikishi & Too Cool, Eddie Guerrero, Stephanie McMahon, The Usos, and X-Pac. Of course in the future there will be more. I will say that the music now is not what it was then and it’s a bit watered down. Watered down as in the beats could be better and filled with more bass and lyrically could be better as well. A lot of the entrances were put together by WWEs producer, Jim Johnston, who has been with the company since ’85, but there have been big mainstream rappers to make theme songs as well. That list includes, but not limited to: Three 6 Mafia, Naughty-by-Nature, Silkk the Shocker, Run-DMC, and Jacki-O. Check out the playlist below:
If that wasn’t enough, Hip-Hop artists has headlined other pay-per-views and the regular programming themes. Wrestlemania 2000 featured a remix of the California anthem, ‘California Love’ titled ‘California.’ It would be the beginning of Hip-Hop songs headlining Wrestlmania’s. Again, the ‘Attitude Era.’ The music was raw. It was no holds barred. It was rough, tough, and full of bass. Then comes the ‘new’ era, the WWE Universe era, where the sound of music has changed, WWE has changed and there’s a more positive message to the theme songs which was a 360 from the previous era.
For the past four years, Hip-Hop has made its way into a theme song for Wrestlemania; five if you count Kevin Rudolf’s WM26 theme, ‘I Made It.’ Tinie Tempah’s ‘Written In The Stars’ was the theme for WM27, MGK & Flo Rida headlined the battle between John Cena & The Rock with their respective tracks, ‘Invincible’ and ‘Wild Ones’ for WM28. Diddy headlined WM29 with ‘Coming Home’ and this year Eminem’s ‘Legacy’ from The Marshal Mathers LP2 headlines the John Cena/Bray Wyatt match.
A lot of the music during the Attitude Era fused rap over rock beats which was a great merge of both genres. As for the themes now, they could be a better representation of Hip-Hop than what is currently being offered. Songs within the millennium have a fairly positive message/vibe, which isn’t a bad thing, but of course I miss the hard hitting music from the era that I grew up watching. With the turn of events in wrestling at this current time there are great wrestlers and although the story lines are always repetitive, the talent is impressive. Impressive as in giving me something to actually be interested in aside from the usual faces that have been on the screen over the past decade or so.
A lot of the music now is very pop down to the ‘rapper’ songs chosen. I chose rapper instead of Hip Hop because the essence of Hip-Hop has drastically changed. I’m not just talking music for the pay-per-views, I’m talking entrances as well. Personally, I would love for The Usos to get a new theme. As energized as they are they need music to match that energy. Their current entrance does not. Big E.’s can stay for now. When it comes to pay-per-viewes, take Flo Rida. His track ‘How I Feel’ was the theme for the 2013 Survivor Series. He’s a rapper by what he does, but it seems to be more of auto-tune rap these days. So I guess although he’s a rapper, his music isn’t really Hip-Hop. The song chosen for the 2014 Royal Rumble was a better choice to call a Hip-Hop song. The show was spearheaded by 2 Chainz/Wiz Khalifa’s ‘We Own It’.
Hip-Hop as a culture has been embraced within the WWE showing just how versed it is as a multicultural company. Lately I have looked past the music because nothing has really stood out to me. I’m still the same fan I was at 7 years old and becoming a fan during a definitive era. I’ll remain one and can only sit back and wonder exactly where this company is going.