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Few things in this world go great together like heavy metal and wrestling do. Musicians and wrestlers have a similar practice of traveling across the country, giving highly physical performances for crowds. Every episode of WWE’s Raw or Smackdown feels like a high-production rock concert, filled with larger-than-life characters putting it down in the ring.
We previously wrote about the many actual heavier-than-hell performances that have taken place at WWE events in years past. Part of the reason those work so well is the fact that numerous wrestlers are essentially rockstars in their own right. Whether it’s actual musicians wrestling or athletes whose whole persona wouldn’t look out of place on a metal stage, it’s been a glorious combination that’s gone on strong for years. We took a look back at some of the best heavy-metal inspired gimmicks through wrestling’s history.
It’s a pretty sure thing that Triple H has done more for the convergence of heavy metal and wrestling than anybody else in history. Beyond his own pursuits as a wrestler spreading the gospel of Motorhead via his themes “The Game” and “King of Kings,” the Cerebral Assassin has done a significant amount for metal during his tenure in NXT. It was his vision that had the brand merge metal performance with wrestling, inviting the likes of Code Orange, Incendiary, Poppy and Lizzy Hale to shred. Now with a bigger role behind the scenes in WWE as head of creative, who know what could happen on the main roster? Maybe he’ll get Metallica to play him to the ring for real.
Everything about Adam “Edge” Copeland’s career has been metal, from his debut in the very Type O Negative-inspired stable The Brood, to scoring multiple entrance themes from the likes of Rob Zombie and Alter Bridge. Often sporting long hair and a trench coat, Edge often looks the part for heavy metal wrestling vampire, carrying an intensity that mirrors his love for the genre and desire to show what a rock frontman would look like as an athlete.
SETH ‘FREAKIN’ ROLLINS
Through Seth ‘Freakin’ Rollins’ many wrestling themes one thing has remained consistent: his love for breakdowns. Ranging all the way back to his days in WWE developmental territory FCW when he would come out to War of Ages’ “Battle On,” Rollins and crunchy metalcore breakdowns go perfectly together. He’s also constantly showing support to bands, back in 2015 premiering Terror’s video for “Mind At War” to the world on his Twitter and shouting out the likes of Misery Signals in interviews.
Whether on her own or as a member of The Judgement Day, Rhea Ripley has been one of WWE’s most compelling onscreen figures since her debut. Beyond the studded gear and gothed-out look, her character is straight up sinister, unafraid to play psychological tricks on her opponents both male and female. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have a pretty kickass theme sung by Ash Costello of New Years Day.
At the hands of anyone else, The Undertaker’s persona would not succeed were it not for the dedication and sincerity of Mark Calloway. During his early days as “The Deadman,” a literal zombie, Taker offered a dark, evil balance to WWE During his debut, but later evolved as a biker and “The American Badass.” Coming to the ring in a Harley to the tune of Limp Bizkit, it was a perfect time and place move for Big Evil in the early 2000. For the rest of his career, he wrapped it up looking like a character straight out of a metal album cover, a towering figure clad with wide-brimmed hat and a determination to destroy his opponents.
Although only around for a couple of years, The Headbangers left a sizable mark in the memory of all metal-inclined wrestling fans. Showing up to the ring clad in band shirts and kilts, Mosh and Thrash were perfectly primed as an exciting tag team during the Attitude Era’s peak.
THE KISS DEMON
The 90s were a strange time for KISS (seriously, look up their Psycho Circus:The Nightmare Child game on Dreamcast), no more evident in the debut of The KISS Demon in WCW. Originally planned to be the start of a much larger KISS-themed stable, The Demon was a comic-book take on Gene Simmons’ onstage persona turned very real, complete with a debut soundtracked by the band themselves.
If you’re going to be called The Sandman, you damn well better come down to the ring to the Metallica classic. The ECW legend of course did just that, showing up to the very bloody and brutal shows of yesteryear armed with a can of beer and a kendo stick. His matches often turned into quasi-music videos, “Enter Sandman” playing the whole time while he was in the ring laying beatings on people. Maybe a good argument for more wrestling being soundtracked.