by Mark Wincott
On a late night flickfest of Sky TV pro wrestling caught my attention. Not the cold staring, vein popping Triple H spitting water into the atmosphere readying himself to stroll to the ring. It was his entrance music of Motorhead blasting behind him, this is what grabbed me. These two entities, pro wrestling and heavy rock are soulmates like Ant and Dec, Laurel and Hardy, Shearer and Sheringham. Hair rock and wrestling are now an old married couple approaching 40 plus years of a happy union. Who introduced these two? Well, that goes to a Freebird, a Fabulous Freebird, Michael P S Hayes. Finally, something nice has been said about him.
The Freebirds brought lacquered hair, razzle dazzle jackets and were the first to utilise entrance music. The Freebirds’ name and music derived from the Lynyrd Skynyrd song as heavy rock became part of this wrestling world. At Wrestlemania II Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne walked The British Bulldogs to face the Hart Foundation. Wrestlemania III broke North America’s indoor attendance record with the godfather of shock rock, Mr Alice Cooper appearing in the corner of Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts.
WCW brought in Megadeth and Kiss. Kiss had a wrestler called ‘The Kiss Demon’. Motley Crue appeared in an angle with superstar Test for WWE that didn’t work or last long. In 2007 MTV created Wrestling Society X a music themed show acquiring some of the best young wrestlers of the time, mixed with veterans of the sport. After ten episodes the idea was shelved and dropped to the MTV archives. But, Extreme Championship Wrestling, an underground promotion offered something different. Owner Paul Heyman knew music connects fans with wrestlers. He started to use Pantera’s “Walk”, Prong’s “snap your fingers, snap your neck”, Metallica’s “Enter the Sandman” and ACDC’s “Big Balls” making ECW hardcore followers ecstatic.
Heyman knew spandex, sparkly jackets and big hair was no longer in. A new storm arrived in the shape of Nirvana and the grunge movement. Heyman liked the attitude, its angst and began to change how wrestlers performed. ECW icon, Raven wore cut-off jeans, leather jacket, chequered shirt around his waist all while portraying the brooding image of grunge. The followers of this promotion connected to these guys and gals who gave their blood, sweat and tears to them.
The attitude of metal and punk with the disgruntled grunge scene continued in ECW, but in the 90s saw the attitude era in WWE. Bringing nu metal and rap to their fans. The Chris Warren band intro’d DX. Kid Rock’s “American Badass” came alive for the new look Undertaker. The breaking of glass for Stone Cold Steve Austin and Mick Foley’s (Cactus Jack) old school riff shows wrestling and rock works perfectly when consummated correctly.
Wrestling superstars carry the Rockstar torch outside the ring. Chris Jericho is a fully-fledged pro wrestler of over twenty years’ experience and lead vocalist of metal band Fozzy. Jeff Hardy of team extreme and WWE superstar is lead vocalist of Peroxwhy?gen another picture of perfection for fans of both.
With the WWE being the only players in town these days their musical foundation of late has grown stagnant and sterile. The good news is there’s a punky underground circuit alive and well with U.S promotions Ring of Honor and Combat Zone Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling thriving.
This side of the pond the British scene is of a mould of punk underground. Revolution Pro Wrestling, Insane Championship Wrestling and Progress carrying the torch. As wrestlers Jimmy Havoc, Travis Banks, Will Ospreay, Viper and Marty Scurrl, the latter a member of the infamous Bullet Club provide show stopping matches. Progress Wrestling created their own soundtrack, featuring the likes of The Kut and Ice Nine Kills
One cold dark evening in Bethnal Green’s York Hall, Revolution Pro Wrestling hosts ‘Uprising’ event. Fans adorned in Metallica, Pantera, My Chemical Romance and other metal/rock shirts mixing with friends in Bullet Club hoodies. Now, The Bullet Club created by Finn Balor, current WWE superstar. While plying his trade in Japan. He had a vision of forming a heel faction of foreign wrestlers to take over New Japan Pro Wrestling, giving the independent scene a new taste, a new bite. Some liked it, some didn’t.
The Bullet Club are the Nu Metal of wrestling, offering this fresh and energetic style which brings out the NWO flavour of the early 90s. The Bullet Club’s name has grown, the members have changed, but their fans stay strong. Fans embrace the movement who wear the merchandise at WWE events. Even though current members do not perform for the biggest promotion in the world. While former leader Kenny Omega whom many believe is the best performer in the world today defeated the Ayatollah of Rock n Rolla Chris Jericho, in a thirty-minute match at New Japan Pro Wrestling’s event Wrestle Kingdom 12 at the Tokyo Dome.
Back to the evening at York Hall, it’s filled with booze, bravado, laughter and lights with a metal feel to it. The atmosphere’s lightening from the start. Imagine Korn’s Jonathon Davis screeching “Are You Ready” just as the MC begins the evening.
A new cruiserweight champion Kurtis Chapman is crowned. The Queen of RPW, Jinny wrestles Martina the Session Moth. Fan favourites Tag Champs Moustache Mountain defeat Zack Gibson and Josh Bodom. Cody Rhodes at the time was the Ring of Honor champ defeated Jay Lethal in a mesmerising, magic match. The crowd rise in awe as two masters go extreme. U.K favourite and Bullet Club member, ‘The Villain’ Marty Scurll attempts to interfere and tease the fans with a double cross of his Bullet Club Brethren, Cody Rhodes. All participants offer great storytelling scenarios making the crowd go ape shit.
WWE UK champion and superstar of the future ‘The Bruiserweight’ Pete Dunne beats Welshman Eddie Dennis in a strong bout. A headbutting ‘Oi’ masterpiece from ‘Guvnor’ Martin Stone finishes bearded phenom Dave Mastiff. King of Bros, and former UFC combatant Matt Riddle took on current champ Zack Sabre Jnr in a strong technical bout leading to one mistake by Riddle, where ZSJ snatched the 1,2,3. Sabre Jr ignites the baying crowd with arrogance, how he’s defeated all counterparts. The title’s worth nothing, there’s no one to beat. Trent Seven of Moustache Mountain climbs in. Sabre Jnr tells Seven to put the RPW tag belts up against he and Minoru Suzuki In January, if so, he’ll offer Seven a title shot. Trent Seven accepts and in Rammstein theatrics piledrives Sabre Jnr into the canvas, as the crowd go nuts. (Suzuku Gun Defeat Moustache Mountain in an epic brawl at Highs Takes 2018 to become RPW tage team champions)
Main event Marty Scurrl wears his black top hat, long black leather mac and crow mask to the ring with his Bullet Club comrades, the Young Bucks to face CCK (Chris Brookes and Travis Banks) and Flip Gordon in a six-man tag. The show gives us gasps, humour and a foresight of how underground punk rock still pumps through the veins of wrestlers and fans. Marty Scurrl leads this invasion. His charisma, talent and mic skills prove this Villain is a bona fide rock n roll star.
Tonight, this independent event proves metal, rock, punk and wrestling continue their marriage made in Hell and we love it….until the next event.