Slammy Awards: The 5 most hilariously awful musical albums by professional wrestlers
I used to watch and follow professional wrestling. In the mid ’80s, the biggest game in town was the WWF. Wrestlemanias I (1985), II (1986) and III (1987) were HUGE. In fact, Wrestlemania III, at the time, had the largest recorded attendance for a live indoor sporting event in North America and is considered the pinnacle of professional wrestling’s popularity. I had it on VHS but I’ve watched it so many times the video tape actually broke. The superstars that competed in those three Wrestlemanias are known to even non-fans today; Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Macho Man Randy Savage and even Mr T made an appearance to wrestle with Hulk Hogan. The most recent Wrestlemania was number 25, held in April of 2009, and while professional wrestling is still wildly popular, it has not kept the mainstream audience it had back in the mid to late ’80s.
Back during the golden years of the WWF, Vince McMahon was in his prime. He marketed the everlovin’ CRAP out of his little federation. True, he does it now, but really, McMahon has become almost a mockery of himself at this point. Back then, he was a marketing genius, now, more a media whore than a media mogul. Vince’s “all over the place” marketing strategies included video games, a line of giant, plastic action figures by LJN and a cartoon. Now, companies do that all the time but back in the ’80s, that kind of cross promotion was unheard of. Then, in 1985, Vince decided to move into the music making space. Wrestlers have always had theme music that accompany them to the ring. Instead of purchasing licensed songs, Vince thought they should record their own songs and market them on music albums. So he gathered pretty much every wrestler he employed at the time and had them record their own theme music. And the results were GLORIOUS.
Here are those first 5 heinously awful music albums as recorded by the wrestlers themselves.
WWF: The Wrestling Album (1985) — If you watched professional wrestling in the ’80s, then you not only owned, but lived and breathed this album. Like I said, back in the day, wrestlers actually sang their own theme songs. It’s insane, I know, but in the ’80s, crazy things happened like, every damn day. This was one of them. So, this novelty album gets released to near Thriller-like anticipation and has three singles. The first is Land of 1000 Dances by every wrestler that ever wrestled in the history of the sport. It’s the WWF’s version of We Are The World. Here’s the video, prepare to lose your mind with the awesomeness (I didn’t even notice that the great Meat Loaf is playing drums in the video…thanks, Steve). How do you follow that magnum opus, you ask? With the Junkyard Dog’s ghetto anthem, Grab Them Cakes. Go ahead, listen. It’s like a more hilariously subtle version of the song Doin’ The Butt. The third single was the awesome Hulk Hogan’s Theme which was used as the theme song to the popular cartoon Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n Wrestling. Just to make sure you KNOW this album is from the ’80s, it was produced by Rick Derringer (Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo) and had Cyndi Lauper on backing vocals. And yes, that is former Governer Jesse “The Body” Ventura on the cover with the pink jacket, feather boa and Elton John sunglasses. I. F’N. LOVED. THE. ’80s.
Piledriver: The Wrestling Album II (1987) — And two years later we received unto our bosoms the sequel to The Wrestling Album; PILEDRIVER. Featuring a picture of Hulk Hogan in a construction uniform on the front for no other reason than, “Why the hell not?”. It speaks volumes that every other WWF/WWE music album has since been released on CD except this one. It’s like this album is Vince McMahon’s personal Star Wars Holiday Special. He wants to completely ignore its existence. However, just like the SW: Holiday Special, it won’t go away. Check out a ridiculously awesome live performance by Vince McMahon of the song Stand Back from this album. Keep your eye out for Hulk Hogan on bass guitar and “Macho Man” Randy Savage on sax. The spectacle of McMahon’s entire performance is indicative of the WWF wrestling scene in the ’80s – ’90s. Over the top and completely awesome. Oh, and Rick Derringer returns to produce and even joins “Mean Gene” Okerlund for a cover of Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo.
Wrestlemania: The Album (1993) — Ever the glutton for punishment, the next WWF album was released in 1993 with this ball-shrinkingly awful record. The time and attention that went into this record is reflected in the album cover; words over a black background. What, they couldn’t scrounge up a few publicity photos? A picture of Vince McMahon swimming in money like Scrooge McDuck would have been appropriate. The record itself starts off with the group song, Slam Jam (hear it here). Similar songs are on every other WWF album and it features the entire payroll of the WWF in a nonsensical mess. Slam Jam is less a song and more a cutting together of wrestler promos from pre-taped interviews. The other songs on the album featured such wrestling luminaries as “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan and “Honkey Tonk Man”. “Macho Man” Randy Savage would also get a chance to stretch his velvety vocal cords on the thoughtful rap, Speaking from the Heart in which he ponders the number of ways he can kick your ass.
Hulk Hogan and The Wrestling Boot Band – Hulk Rules (1995) — The Wrestling Boot Band? Seriously, Hogan? This musical abortion was released in 1995 after Hogan and Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart wrote the songs over a two day period. That’s right, this album was written in TWO DAYS. And it sounds like it. WWF is coasting on the popularity of its characters at this point without any regard to quality control because if they had cared about quality, there is no f’n way this album gets made. There’s just no way. At the very least, they threw together a picture for the album cover as opposed to the previous entry. Look at the cover; Hulk Hogan, an American flag and a red doo-rag. I mean, if you didn’t buy this album back in ’95 you’d probably have been labeled a communist and Hulk would personally come to your house and suplex you into the sidewalk. Hulk would actually use the song American Made from this album as his theme song for a while. Not surprisingly, this album was critically panned across the board.
“Macho Man” Randy Savage – Be A Man (2003) — While not an official WWF release as I believe Macho Man released this independently, I had to include it on this list because it’s terrible. I actually had to look twice at this after finding out it was released in 2003, just 5 years ago. A rap album by Macho Man Randy Savage. A. RAP. ALBUM. Yes, it’s as hilarious (and sad) as it sounds. The album’s title track, Be A Man, is a Hulk Hogan “diss” rap about how Hulk has become a punk and gone soft. And yet, Mr Savage, you have somehow managed to keep your dignity intact. Well played, Macho Man. Well played.
After 10 years or so of awful wrestler sung musical albums, Vince finally decided to just pay popular bands to record new theme songs for the wrestlers. This resulted in better and much more awesome music. The WWE label is still releasing wrestling albums with theme songs by established bands.