This Sunday is Wrestlemania 32, the “Granddaddy of ‘Em All!” It’s Vince McMahon’s annual star-studded spectacle celebrating the triumph of human physicality and the masterful theatrics as found in the realm of sports-entertainment. It’s the wrestling industry’s biggest night and, since 1985, has brought some of the biggest names in music to the squared circle for a sheer pop culture spectacle.
While many are undoubtedly familiar with singer Cyndi Lauper’s involvement with the inaugural Wrestlemania, and recent tributes to departed Motorhead frontman Lemmy mentioned his frequent Wrestlemania appearances playing wrestler Triple H to the ring, there’s quite a number of additional participants whose involvement isn’t quite as celebrated. Fear not, we at the Weekly have climbed to the top rope to make sure their appearance is slammed right in your face. Here are 5 Musicians You Didn’t Know Were At Wrestlemania.
Cab Calloway, Wrestlemania 2
The first Wrestlemania in 1985 from New York’s Madison Square Garden oozed of star-power with icons like Mr. T, Liberace and the Radio City Rocketts all showing the then-WWF’s brand of headlocks were the most glamorous in the land. The following year, Wrestlemania 2 broadcast from three different locations, each with as many stars as they could fill including Elvira and the “Where’s the Beef?” lady. To judge the “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Mr. T boxing match, McMahon enlisted the expertise of jazz great Cab Calloway to ensure there was no mooching, only punching.
Alice Cooper, Wrestlemania 3
The theatrics of shock-rocker Alice Cooper and the world of wrestling seem like a match made in Heaven, or Hell, or the more intriguing corners of Purgatory. When Jake “The Snake” Roberts was feuding with Elvis-impersonating wrestling bad guy The Honky Tonk Man and his manager Jimmy Hart (who, in real life, was a member of chart-topping 60s group The Gentrys of “Keep On Dancin’” fame) he needs an extra pair of eyes watching his back, and found them in the painted stare of Alice Cooper. In front of 93,173 fans, Cooper and Roberts brought arena rock to the ring, making one only imagine how hard Roberts’ snake Damien got down at the after party.
Donnie Wahlberg, Wrestlemania 10
The year was 1994. Post-Marky Mark and right around the time New Kids On the Block became NKOTB, Donny Walhberg was selected by the then-WWF to be the special guest ring announcer for Wrestlemania 10, a duty that night he would later share with actor Burt Reynolds. Instead of giving you footage of his ring announcing in action, we’re instead hoping you take a look at wrestling rappers Men On A Mission’s Wrestlemania 10 rundown whose second verse mentions the night’s celebrities including Walhberg, Reynolds, Jennie Garth, Rhonda Shear and Hair Club for Men’s Sy Sperling.
Salt N Pepa, Wrestlemania 11
Arguably the greatest musical performance in Wrestlemania history, iconic rap duo Salt N Pepa performed “Whatta Man” as football great Lawrence Taylor made his way to the ring to do battle with Bam Bam Bigelow. Along with rocking the house…er..Hartford Civic Center, Salt N Pepa went above and beyond performance duties by re-writing the song’s lyrics to reflects the three-month-long Lawrence Taylor-Bam Bam Bigelow feud. Whatta entrance! Of course, the reason you probably didn’t know this happened is due to rights issues, meaning outside the original pay-per-view broadcast and the encore presentation on the Fox Network later that year, this performance has been entirely removed from every physical and digital release of Wrestlemania XI since.
Big Pun, Wrestlemania 15
Wow. Thought lost to the sands of time is late-rapper Big Pun’s “Still Not A Player” performance before Wrestlemania 15. Along with Shane McMahon’s energetic introduction, it’s a little unsettling to see Pun performing less than a year before his untimely death. Still, for a lifelong fan and frequent wrestling-referencer like Pun, the event at the height of his and the then-WWF’s popularity seems like pop culture perfect storm. Prior to resurfacing on YouTube, the only existence of Pun’s WWE involvement was between the matches when the camera would cut to him in the crowd, identifying him by his full name “Big Punisher.”