10 Best Music Moments In WrestleMania History
For 35 years, WrestleMania has served as the annual moment where professional wrestling and popular culture intersect. The multimedia conglomerate that the World Wrestling Entertainment corporation has become might not exist without that landmark event at Madison Square Garden on March 31, 1985, headlined by a tag team match pitting the company's top heels "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff against WWE world champ Hulk Hogan and his celebrity partner Mr. T.
For every WrestleMania since, there has been at least one musical act invited to be a part of the event nicknamed 'Showcase of the Immortals' in some capacity, be it Liberace as guest timekeeper at the first one, Prohibition era song-and-dance great Cab Calloway serving as a judge for a boxing match at WM2 or Donnie Wahlberg playing ring announcer at WrestleMania X. As wrestling fans around the world descend upon the New York City area for WrestleMania Weekend, here are 10 musical moments in the Pay-Per-View's history that were indeed more memorable than most.
Cyndi Lauper at WrestleMania 1
In all of the excitement of the very first WrestleMania headlined by a women's championship match as the main event this Sunday (April 7), it should not be forgotten that it was, in fact, a woman who had a major hand in making Mania the annual company jubilee it has grown into. Starting in 1984 following legendary manager Capt. Lou Albano's cameo as her on-screen dad in the video for the smash single "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," Lauper began playing an increased role on WWE television in storylines pitting the singer and her manager David Wolff against the Captain over songwriting credits. Shortly thereafter, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper became involved, attacking both Lauper and Wolff as part of the in-ring action, inciting Hulk Hogan and Mr. T to come to their aid, resulting in a completely unglued "War to Settle the Score" match that was aired on MTV on Feb. 18, 1985. Events, mind you, that would eventually lead up to the Piper/Orndorff vs. Hogan/Mr. T match that topped the card at that very first WrestleMania, which prominently featured Cyndi as well in a managerial context, leading Wendi Richter to the Women's belt when she defeated Leilani Kai in the second-to-last match of the card. Given her crucial role in the Rock and Wrestling Connection that helped transform the regionally successful WWF into the global world eater that is WWE, why Cyndi Lauper is not yet in their Hall of Fame is a crime of Iron Maiden proportions.
Ozzy Osbourne Accompanies the British Bulldogs at WrestleMania 2
It's incredible to think Ozzy Osbourne is the last man standing in this temporary faction from the second WrestleMania, which saw the Prince of Darkness -- just a few weeks after the release his fourth solo LP, The Ultimate Sin -- walking alongside the British Bulldogs and their proper manager Capt. Lou Albano toward the ring to challenge and defeat the team of Greg "The Hammer" Valentine and newly inducted Hall of Famer Brutus Beefcake for the tag team titles in Chicago. Word has it that Ozzy doesn't even remember being at the Rosemont Horizon that night, making the fact of the onetime Black Sabbath singer's status as the only participant of Team Bulldog '86 still alive and kicking even more profound. Needless to say, a soberer Osbourne would fare better as the guest host of Monday Night Raw nearly 30 years later in 2015.
Aretha Franklin Sings "America The Beautiful" at WrestleMania III and 23
A grand variety of singers have performed "America The Beautiful" each year at WrestleMania, including such iconic names as Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, Gladys Knight and Little Richard. But nobody killed it like the late, great Queen of Soul, who has the unique distinction of being the only artist (other than former WWE ring announcer Lilian Garcia) to be invited to sing the United States' unofficial national anthem twice. The first time was at WrestleMania III at the Pontiac Silverdome not too far from her Detroit hometown, where at the height of her mid-80s pop revival she took us all back to the Amazing Grace era with a truly transcendent rendition of the song. Twenty years later, the Queen would once again perform the song at Mania 23 when the PPV returned to the Motor City at Ford Field. The 2007 rendition may have been more playful than her handling of the song back in '87 but was nary an ounce less powerful.
Alice Cooper Manages Jake "The Snake" Roberts at WrestleMania III
If we're being honest here, 1986's Constrictor is nobody's favorite Alice Cooper record. But it was only apropos for the promotional tie-in opportunity alone to have the man born Vincent Furnier accompany legendary ring psychologist Jake "The Snake" Roberts and his reptile valet Damien the python in his anticipated match one of the era's leading villains, newly inducted WWE Hall of Famer the Honky Tonk Man, the fever pitch of a feud between the two superstars that took place on the WWF's weekend programming in the weeks leading up to the third Mania. The Motor City's own Cooper got in on the action as well, welcoming Honky's manager the "Colonel" Jimmy Hart to his nightmare by cutting one hell of a promo on him prior to the showdown at the Silverdome, telling the former singer of the '60s Memphis rock group The Gentrys that he "means as much to music as I do the Bolshoi Ballet." It should be noted, however, that the manager also known as "The Mouth of the South" was responsible for composing a ton of ring entrance music, including the themes for Dusty Rhodes, The Legion of Doom and Sting. Classic stuff.
Run-D.M.C. and the WrestleMania Rap
WrestleMania V might be better known for its explosive main event that found Hulk Hogan winning his second heavyweight championship victory over bitter rival Randy "Macho Man" Savage than its celebrity guests, an incredibly short list that included both controversial chainsmoking talk show host Morton Downey Jr. and, in his first of many appearances with the WWE, future American president Donald Trump. But one of the fifth Mania's true highlights was a wild performance by Run-D.M.C. with an impromptu jam nicknamed the "WrestleMania Rap" that would hint at the harder edged sound the Hollis, Queens trio would flex in the early '90s with underrated albums like 1990's Back From Hell and 1993's Down With The King.
Robert Goulet Sings the Canadian National Anthem at WrestleMania 6
It's sad that Robert Goulet will likely be better remembered for Will Ferrell's impression of him on SNL than anything the late American-born, Canadian-bred entertainer ever did on stage and screen. But following an epic fail of an "America The Beautiful" at Mania V sung by the company's then-Women's champion Rockin' Robin for some odd reason, the WWE stepped up their game big time the following year when they invited Mr. Goulet to sing "O Canada" to the sold out crowd at the Toronto Skydome, who would later go on to see Hulk Hogan drop the heavyweight belt to The Ultimate Warrior.
The Chris Warren Band's Live Version of the Degeneration X Theme at WrestleMania XIV
With the exception of that distinctive sound of breaking glass which kicks off the entrance music for "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, there isn't a more definitive sound of the Attitude Era than the Chris Warren Band's theme song for Degeneration X, the anti-hero WWE faction of the mid-to-late '90s headed up by Triple H and Shawn Michaels and also being inducted this Saturday (April 6) into the Hall of Fame as a group. And while Warren, who sadly passed away at age 49 in 2016, should have been allowed nowhere near "America The Beautiful" nor "The Star-Spangled Banner" at WM XIV, the group otherwise known as the DX Band redeemed themselves tenfold when they performed a searing rendition of "Break It Down" -- easily the best song Rage Against the Machine never wrote -- as Triple H led Michaels down the aisle for his heavyweight championship match against Stone Cold, whom he would lose the belt to on this night thanks to a face-turn swerve by special guest referee "Iron" Mike Tyson.
Motörhead Performs Triple H's Entrance Music at WrestleMania 17 and 21
The anecdote Triple H shared during his eulogy for Lemmy Kilmister at the British metal icon's funeral really says it all. "You're in a stadium with about 80,000 people in it," he explained from the pulpit. "You're coming up on a riser onto the stage with smoke all around you and the world title around your waist. And you look to your side as you come up, and Lemmy is standing next to you singing about you. It is the most kick ass thing of all time." If only Motörhead was still around to usher out the man born Paul Levesque in his final showdown this Sunday against longtime foe Batista like they did at WrestleManias 17 and 21. But when "The Game" emerges from the Gorilla Position on Sunday night, the uncompromising spirit of Lemmy growling his praises through the TitanTron will certainly be swirling around him as he heads into what could be the final match of his career.
Living Colour Performs "Cult of Personality" at WrestleMania XXIX
Ever since his little league days, Living Colour's electrifying 1988 call-to-arms anthem "Cult of Personality" has served as the personal theme music for former WWE superstar CM Punk. He was one of the tiny number of wrestlers in the last 35 years to be able to use the music of their choice for their entrance theme (the most recent, of course, being Ronda Rousey's use of "Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts). So when the company invited the New York hard rock giants to play out Punk in his battle against the Undertaker at WrestleMania XXIX (the last time the event was at MetLife Stadium), it was a magic moment for both the man and the band. "CM Punk using 'Cult' as his entrance music was a beautiful shock, man," Living Colour drummer Will Calhoun told Billboard. "And then to play WrestleMania, it was just incredible. They tried to get him to stop using the song, the WWE, and he said no. They wanted him to use their inside composer, but he didn't do it. It was always something he listened to getting in a headspace, so it was a good luck thing for him and he didn't want to stop doing it when he got to the WWE."
Sasha Banks Phones In a Favor With Her Famous Cousin for WrestleMania 32
The "Legit Bo$$" might've lost her bid for the reintroduced Women's Championship at Mania 32 in a triple threat match pitting her against Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair, who would go on to win the coveted strap after forcing a submission from Lynch with her patented Figure 8 Leglock (could lightning strike twice this Sunday?). But nobody could take away Sasha's victory in the ring entrance game that night, as her cousin Snoop Dogg -- who had just brought the house down the night before during his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame's celebrity wing by giving a touching nod to Banks in his acceptance speech -- blessed the Boss' already awesome theme song with an exclusive rhyme that makes you wish the D-O-double-G would accompany her to the ring at every Pay-Per-View.