The world of wrestling and the world of music have an awful lot in common. You've got you over-the-top characters, the lights, the spectacle, the flashy costumes and choreography. (See this, in fact.) Pretty much the only thing separating them are the injuries, and depending on the rock show not even that.
So it's not surprising that sometimes those worlds overlap, and I don't just mean wrestlers like Chris Jericho turning to music, or bands showing up live to perform the song a wrestler uses as his entrance music like Motorhead did for Triple H. I mean that sometimes the two camps just full-on collide in amazing ways.
Note to ICP fans... They didn't make the cut. Not because they didn't distinguish themselves, but because it could be argued that they did both so well that the two sides pretty much cancel out each other. They're a separate category all their own.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say it, the early success the World Wrestling Federation had in meshing itself firmly into the pop culture of the '80s owes a hell of a lot to Cyndi Lauper. She was coming off the success of She's So Unusual, an album that sold 16 million copies worldwide, and was an undeniable phenomenon. Vince McMahon knew a good thing when he saw it, and asked Lauper to be part of his Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection designed to merge the appeal of MTV with his growing wrestling company.
Lauper was amiable. She's gotten to be fast friends with Captain Lou Albano on a plane ride and asked him to appear as her father in the video for "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." Later, she would aid Wendi Richter in claiming the WWF Women's Title from the Fabulous Moolah with a timely shot to Moolah's head with her Loaded Purse of Doom, and accompanied Richter to the ring at the first Wrestlemania.
During this time she was offered the chance to serve as musical director for Steven Spielberg's The Goonies. This included a new song called "Goonies R Good Enough," for which Lauper shot an ambitious, two-part music video utilizing Goonies sets and cast members. Also on hand for the video was a veritable who's who of wrestling's top stars. Roddy Piper, the Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Classy Freddie Blassie, and Andre the Giant all played major roles in the hilarious short musical film, in addition to folks like Albano and Moolah, with whom Lauper had worked before.
By the time all was said and done, WWF had its foot firmly rooted as an '80s entertainment mainstay, with a lot of help from Lauper in breaking into the mainstream.
World Championship Wrestling was entering the decline that would eventually result in its sale to Vince McMahon, but in 1999 the company did have an unusual and excellent talent in Vampiro. Vampiro was a Canadian luchador who sported a goth appearance and a very powerful version of a scoop-slam piledriver.
Vampiro was also a big music fan, with a good relationship with ICP and Psychopathic Records. He's even appeared on several albums, but the team up that I'm thinking of involved Jerry Only of the legendary Misfits. At the time, Vampiro was involved in a feud with another legend, "Dr. Death" Steve Williams. Only sided with Vampiro, and took on Williams in a steel cage match.
Look, I've personally hugged Jerry Only, and I'll be the first to tell you he's a human brick whom you couldn't pay me to piss off. That being said, Steve Williams is famous for being one of the stiffest and most violent wrestlers of all time. He is absolutely brutal, and they threw Only in against him with almost no training. He's lucky he wasn't freakin' killed.
Only described the experience in am interview with Wrestling Edge: "I didn't have my contacts in or anything so I couldn't see the door," he said. "Death throws me into the cage and my head goes right between the ropes and I see the door, but I smack my head pretty hard against the metal. I was backstage, looking like Carrie, all covered in blood, and I ask one of the guys, 'All right, where's the guy so he can sew me up?' And they just look and me and say, 'There is no guy.'"
Mick Foley had a ritual when getting ready for a match. He would mentally work out his brutal craft to Tori Amos songs. His Hell in the Cell match with the Undertaker in particular was crafted to Amos' "Winter." If they ever film Foley's life story, it is my sincere hope that that amazing, bloody spectacle will be shot in complete silence with only Amos singing beautifully while Foley and 'Taker take their bodies to the absolute limit.
Foley met Amos at the 2009 ComicCon, and the two became friends. Through her Foley learned of Amos' Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, a charity activist group and support network that Amos, herself a rape survivor, founded to help prevent sexual assault, comfort victims, and bring assailants to justice. Foley was deeply affected by the plight of sexual abuse victims, and has since gone on to be one of the foundation's most powerful allies.
Foley is a regular hotline operator, logging hundreds of hours talking to desperate and suicidal people with nowhere else to turn. He's contributed to numerous find-raising drives, including auctioning off a chance to have him mow a contributor's lawn.
He also put two one-of-a-kind pieces of his career on eBay to help raise money for RAINN; his Cactus Jack leopard print boots imbedded with 149 thumbtacks after a bout with Ric Flair, and the white shirt he wore as Mankind when he took on the Undertaker in Hell in the Cell.
Of all the tag teams that have occurred between wrestlers and musicians, it's the Amos/Foley connection that deserves the top spot. When the man who finished a match after having his ear ripped off in the middle tells you he hasn't cried in 20 years until he had to fight for the lives of victims of sexual assault, then you know the difference between real tough and pretend tough.
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