If there are two things I’m passionate about, it’s hip-hop music and professional wrestling. The two entities have been a part of my life since I was a child and I have not outgrown them. As much as people would like to think that hip-hop and wrestling are two completely different things, they could never be any more alike. If you think about it, you have a group of talent (wrestlers or rappers) who are competing to be the best. To be the best, you have to battle other people so you can become the top guy. On some occasions, competition can turn into beefs or feuds that transcend the wrestling or hip-hop industry. You’ve seen it with 2Pac and Biggie, Shawn and Bret, Jay-Z and Nas, Austin and Rock, etc. I could go on and on for days about it. We all know wrestling is predetermined by management, but you don’t think hip-hop labels predetermine who is going to be their next big star? I’m not saying that hip-hop is completely fake and I’m not saying professional wrestling is completely real. However, there are many similarities between the two worlds and they often collide more than you know. Here are some moments when hip-hop and wrestling have collided.
Run DMC Perform a “Wrestlemania Rap” at Wrestlemania V (1989)
Run DMC is one of the greatest groups in hip-hop history. They changed the way hip-hop sounded in the 1980s and highlighted the importance of the MC and DJ relationship. They embraced the popularity of streetwear with their infamous Adidas tracksuits along with the lace-less sneakers and the trademark black fedoras. By 1989, they were still a popular act in the music industry and it showed when WWE invited the Hollis, Queens natives to perform Wrestlemania Rap. This was only the beginning of the two worlds bumping into each other.
Salt-N-Pepa Perform “Whatta Man” at Wrestlemania XI (1995)
Salt-N-Pepa have broken a lot of barriers in hip-hop. They are deemed as “The First Ladies of Hip-Hop” because of their success in the industry. They are the first women rap group to achieve gold and platinum status. Their fourth album, Very Necessary, is the highest-selling album by a women rap group in history and they are one of the best-selling rap acts of all time, man or woman. It only made sense for them to perform one of their biggest hits “Whatta Man” at Wrestlemania XI. Although the event may not be as memorable, this exemplified that women can dominate the wrestling and hip-hop industry.
WWF Aggression Soundtrack (2000)
WWE’s first and only all rap soundtrack was released on March 21, 2000 by Priority Records. It featured entrance music of WWE wrestlers re-recorded by various hip hop artists and groups. The tracklist was stacked with rappers such as Run DMC, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Method Man, Snoop Dogg, and many more. The album was a commercial success, sold over 500,000 copies, and went gold. The popularity of WWE at the time collaborating with some of the hottest rappers in the game made all the sense in the world. I wish they could do something like this again.
No Limit Debuts in WCW (1999)
Master P can do anything he puts his mind to. He can be one of the biggest rappers and sell millions of records with the biggest independent rap label. He can go to the NBA and play with the Charlotte Hornets and Toronto Raptors in the preseason. He can become a movie star and have a successful theatrical release at the height of his career. He can start his own sports agency and get a running back from the New Orleans Saints to sign with him. As a matter of fact, he can show up to World Championship Wrestling with his crew and form The No Limit Soldiers wrestling faction. Although WCW had already lost to WWE by 1999, this was a cool moment for the company even if it didn’t benefit in the long run. Master P only made one appearance in WCW when he, Silkk the Shocker, and the rest of the group came down to the ring to celebrate Silkk’s birthday. They were interrupted by Curt Henning, who was feuding with them at the time when he came to give Silkk a birthday gift. They completely smashed the birthday gift and berated Curt the whole segment. It was also reported that Eric Bischoff paid Master P $200,000 per appearance during his short time there. If anyone knows how to find a hustle, it’s Percy Miller.
John Cena — Word Life (2002–2005)
Although the gimmick didn’t age well and was cringeworthy in some ways, John Cena was one of the most popular wrestlers during this time. The theme song, sports jerseys, and brash lyrics made him a superstar on Smackdown. A character like this is not easy to pull off, but Cena was able to take it to heights where no one thought he could. He’s had battle raps with Rikishi, Kurt Angle, and Big Show. He’s been side by side with rappers such as Method Man and M.U.R.S. More importantly, this man’s first and only album, You Can’t See Me, is certified platinum. There are plenty of rappers who can’t claim that at all. John Cena was given a questionable gimmick that worked in his favor and it catapulted him to being one of the greatest of all time. If only we had gotten that battle rap with Fabolous at Wrestlemania XIX.
Three 6 Mafia Performs Mark Henry’s Theme Song on Smackdown (2006)
Three 6 Mafia is one of the most influential groups in hip-hop in my opinion. By 2006, they were on top of the world. They had released their biggest album to date, Most Known Unknown, which had hit songs like “Stay Fly” and “Poppin’ My Collar.” They were on the soundtrack for one of the biggest movies of 2005 “Hustle and Flow.” Additionally, they won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Three 6 Mafia was at an all-time high and they continued that high when they appeared on Smackdown to perform Mark Henry’s theme song “Some Bodies Gonna Get It.” As long as Mark Henry is still around, the Memphis group will forever be synonymous with WWE.
Snoop Dogg (2008-Present)
You can make a strong case with Snoop Dogg being the most famous rapper of all time. Your grandparents know him, your parents know him, you know him, and I’m pretty sure your future kids will know him. He’s been everywhere and has done everything under the sun. Professional wrestling is just one of the many things on the list. He has appeared in two Wrestlemanias, been a guest host on Monday Night Raw, and he’s a WWE Hall of Famer. He’s also the first cousin of current Smackdown Women’s Champion Sasha Banks. Snoop Dogg has always found a way to stay relevant whether that’s being on a WWE video game or doing a frog splash at All Elite Wrestling. He always has a place in professional wrestling.
The New Day vs. The Usos Rap Battle (2017)
The New Day vs. The Usos is one the best tag team feuds of all time. The matches and segments they had in the summer/fall of 2017 were magic. One of the highlights of their feud was the rap battle they did in a July episode of Smackdown. The showdown was hosted by multi-platinum selling rapper and longtime wrestling fan, Wale, and these two teams did not hold back. The bars and punchlines were all there and the crowd reacted to every single line. The multiple references to the URL TV battle rap scene was just another example of how hip-hop and wrestling are symmetrical. It’s one of the most memorable Smackdown segments in recent memory and we can all thank battle rap for that.
Bad Bunny at the Royal Rumble (2021)
Bad Bunny is one of the biggest artists in the world with one of the biggest songs of the year with “Booker T.” He was Spotify’s most-streamed artist of 2020 and his third album, El Último Tour Del Mundo, was the first full Spanish language album to go number one on Billboard. It’s no secret that the Latin artist is a huge wrestling fan so it only made sense for him to appear at this year’s Royal Rumble. He performed the hit song “Booker T” and also got a little physical with some of the wrestlers at the event. WWE having Bad Bunny appear at the height of his career was a smart decision for everyone involved.