Professional wrestlers are among the world’s most under-appreciated entertainers. These men and women combine elements of acting, sports, and—I almost struggle to say it—comedy, all while contributing to one of the highest grossing sporting industries. As early as the 1950s, professional wrestlers have been eager to prove their worth outside of the ring. This has taken shape in a few different forms, but the most successful has been in their transition to film. While the transition to the screen has proved to be a somewhat natural progression for most, the numerous attempts to shoehorn a wrestling career into a musical one have not been as prolific. It is in these not-so-successful attempts to diversify their brands that wrestlers have often provided the most unintentional laughs, with a few surprises along the way.
Freddie Blassie - "King of Men" / "Pencil Neck Geek" (1975)
With the exception of a few more sincere attempts (Jerry Lawler, Jimmy Hart, etc.), the best precursor for all wrestler-turned-musicians is none other than one of wrestling’s most infamous and hated, “Classy” Freddie Blassie. For this 1975 record, Blassie’s signature catchphrase, “Pencil Neck Geek,” is immortalized, with help from Johnny Legend and Billy Zoom—two years before Zoom co-founded X. A somewhat paint-by-numbers country tune in the vein of Red Sovine, the tracks do come off a bit tame now, especially in light of the sheer hatred that Blassie was able to incite.
Adrian Street - "Breakin’ Bones" / "Mighty Big Girl" (1977)
If you concocted a wrestler from the elements of KISS, Divine, and David Bowie, the result would look and act a lot like Adrian Street. Probably the least famous addition to this list, what can be found of Street’s short-lived career in music on record (or more likely YouTube) is shockingly listenable; kind of somewhere between Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie and the New York Dolls—to which I can only imagine was his intention.
Terry Funk - Great Texan (1984)
Chalk it up to one of the industry’s biggest booms, but the 1980s wasn’t exactly the most prolific decade for wrestlers experimenting with music. With that said, without the 80s, we wouldn’t have Terry Funk’s debut LP, Great Texan. Released in 1984 on the Japanese label Invitation, Funk’s record has to be heard to be understood—although, to be honest, I’m not even sure that helps much. In order to try and grasp the genius train wreck that is Terry Funk, listen to this track, entitled “Barbara Streisand’s Nose.”
Hulk Hogan and the Wrestling Boot Trash Can Band - American Made (1993)
The 90s were probably the best decade for professional wrestling. The WWE (then called WWF) was ramping up to enter the Attitude era, both the WCW and ECW were worthy competitors, and the music was never better. Kicking off the 90s trend was Hollywood Hulk Hogan himself, with one of the best-worst albums ever imagined. With lyrics like, “I was walking down, looking for some action. Had my radio set on a rap-rap station. I saw a girl in trouble, a sticky situation. She wanted me to give her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation,” Hogan’s efforts are among the best the wrestling world has to offer music. And let's never forget his ultimate tribute to this great nation…
Konnan feat. Mad One - Bow Wow Wow (1999)
To be completely honest… it’s not terrible.
2000s and Beyond
Various Artists - WWE Originals (2003)
With five spoken-word tracks by Stone Cold Steve Austin (donning names like “Where’s the Beer,” “Drink Your Beer,” and “Don’t That Taste Good”), along with 12 other tracks by WWE Superstars—Rey Mysterio, Booker T, Trish Stratus, and Kurt Angle among others—this album plays like a collection of everything described on this list packed onto a single CD. It’s essentially WWE’s greatest hits record (using “greatest” liberally). To get a snapshot of the record, look no further than possibly the record’s worst contribution—a feat in itself —the American Hero, Kurt Angle.
Macho Man Randy Savage - Be A Man (2003)
Fueled by their incessant on-screen rivalries and released exactly a decade after Hogan’s record, Macho Man Randy Savage (RIP) served up his response to Hogan with his own debut rap record, Be A Man. This is probably the most popular and written-about record on this list and for good reason. It is somewhat of a sitting duck, easy to ridicule, but if we are honest with ourselves for a minute, we can all admit that we love it.
John Cena - "You Can’t See Me" (2005)
As much as it pains me to say this, there is a small amount of promise in John Cena’s album. The promise, however, pretty much ends abruptly after the first track. The rest of the album is filled to the brim with stiff rhythm and horrendous rhymes. I’ll stick with Hogan and Macho Man.
Fozzy - All that Remains (2005)
When Fozzy formed in 1999, they actually had a pretty good gimmick. Recording all covers, the band claimed to have been living in Japan for the past 20 years and was shocked to learn that bands like Ozzy Osbourne, and Iron Maiden had stolen all of their songs. Therefore the “covers” that appear on their first two records were actually originals, at least according to Fozzy. For some reason, probably in attempt to be taken seriously or an attempt at a cash grab, in 2008 Fozzy decided to drop the gimmick. What did they decide to replace it with? Total dad rock.
Lita in the Luchagors - S/T (2007)
Despite forming the band shortly before departing from the WWE, I like to think of the Luchagors as the WWE’s response to Avril Lavigne—easily digestible, watered down pop punk. The only problem was they were at least five years too late.
Mickie James - Strangers and Angels (2010)
If atrocious graphic design:mode_rgb():quality(96)/discogs-images/R-2283225-1275760264.jpeg.jpg) and cookie-cutter, pop country is your thing, then WWE diva Mickie James is your girl…
Michael “Pure Sexy” Hayes - "Why Can’t Children Pray in School" (2014)
Twenty years in the making—because you just can’t rush genius—we can thank God that Michael Hayes was able to get it together and unveil this modern masterpiece upon us.
Ultramantis Black - S/T EP (2014)
With politicized lyrics, members of Pissed Jeans, and the self-description of “90s militant straight-edge filtered through the over the top theatrics of pro-wrestling,” you get the sense that Ultramantis Black (named after their lead singer and Chikara wrestler, Ultramantis Black) both take themselves way too seriously while not taking themselves seriously at all. I can respect that.
Joe Yannick is powerbombing some tweets off the top rope on Twitter - @JoeYanick