Fewer things in this world are as widely loved as Professional Wrestling and Hip Hop. Granted it’s a lot easier to say you’re into Hip Hop then wrestling which I never really understood. I started watching professional wrestling when I was 12 or 13 (about the same time I started listening to Hip hop) and I still consider myself a fan of both. Granted my love of wrestling has waned since it’s become more about marketing and less about creating great characters but I still check out Wrestlemania, Summer Slam and a few of the prime pay-per-views. I was amped when Chris Jericho came back, I will still watch any match Shawn Michaels is in, and I even root for Triple H when he’s a bad guy. It’s a soap opera for men and a great way to spend a couple of hours.
I don’t know why this stigma of Wrestling being silly has stuck so hard, especially when it’s not too far off of what supposedly makes Hip Hop so grandly entertaining. As I began to really think about this I started noticing all of these similarities between Hip Hop and Wrestling. The similarities were so intense that I began to see the two as linked somehow. I sat down and furiously scribbled out as many commonalities between the two before filtering them down to the top ten. So without further ado I present you with The Top Ten Similarities Between Hip Hop And Professional Wrestling.
10. Rappers and Wrestlers wear loud, flashy and sometimes ugly clothes.
Most musicians or sports figures dress down and try to play the “normal guy” vibe but not rappers or wrestlers. These guys don’t feel comfortable unless they are wearing these incredibly lavish and loud outfits. Look at some of Puffy’s Versace shirts or the sequined stuff that Lil Kim wears, it looks like the robes that Macho Man Randy Savage or Ric Flair used to come out wearing. Both of these factions want everyone to know how much money they have and part of that is wearing clothes nobody else would even think to. Both parties also love to talk about their clothes and how much they cost almost to the point of nausea.
09. Rappers and Wrestlers tend to always be fighting each other.
Sure wrestling is about combat but apparently so is Hip Hop. The most interesting part of this is that they seem to go about it the exact same way. First it starts with one wrestler or rapper saying something bad about another wrestler or rapper. Then the recipient of the negative comment fires back and so begins a heated war of words. This war of words goes back and forth, with both wrestlers and rappers escalating the intensity of the attacks.
They both try to embarrass each other in public places as well as drop none subtle hints that one is better than the other. After a long stretch of rappers or wrestlers going back and forth violence usually erupts. While the road to get to the violence is almost identical the violence sadly is not. Wrestling violence usually ends in a new champion while Hip Hop violence tends to end in actual death.
08. The Wrestling World and Hip Hop Community both use fake or silly nicknames.
In wrestling you have Triple H, The Rock, The Undertaker and other names that aren’t even close to being real. In Hip Hop you have the same thing with names like Jay-Z, Mos Def, or Flo-Rida. In no other sport are nicknames the norm. Sure you might call Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz “Big Papi” but by and large sports figures go by their real names. Most of the time Wrestlers have no interest in using real names. Triple H supposedly stands for Hunter Hearst Helmsley, which isn’t even his real name. Same with The Rock, whose real name was said to be Rocky Mavia when in actuality it was Dwayne Johnson. Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Paul Bearer the list goes on.
Then you have the nicknames like Stone Cold, The Legend Killer (Randy Orton), The Nature Boy (Ric Flair), it’s endless. The same can be said for Hip Hop. Christopher Wallace was known as the Notorious BIG, Marshal Mathers is better known to us as Eminem, and the list goes on. In what other musical genre is the majority of the artists’ involved known by nicknames or fake names. Some might say Jazz but it’s not even close to Hip Hop in that respect. In most sports nicknames are the exception not the rule.
7. The producer/manager connection.
In Hip Hop a lot of the artists are linked up with high powered, flashy and very prominent producers. These producers usually talk too much, take a lot of credit for things they had little to do with and seem to be at a rapper’s side pretty much anywhere they go. The same is true in wrestling only they’re called managers. Wrestling management seems to be filled with the same type of loud mouth guy who takes credit for the wrestlers hard work and stands by the wrestlers side no matter what is going on. Where else in music or sports do producers and personal managers stand in the spotlight with the artists or athletes themselves? Nowhere that I can tell, making this another shared aspect between Wrestling and Hip Hop.
6. Wrestling and Hip Hop are largely solo endeavors
In most sports you have a team and in most musical genres you have a band. The quality of play or the creativity of the music is a multi-person effort with each member making sure to do their part as well as they can. Sports teams and bands rise and fall together, with blame or praise being passed around amongst many people. With Wrestling and Hip Hop the exact opposite is true. Wrestlers have to come and prove themselves with nothing but their own ability to back them up. The same is true for rappers. Sure there might have been a great coach or producer who gave these guys the tools they needed to do well but it’s up to them alone to execute it. Rappers and Wrestlers stand alone, succeeding or failing alone. All eyes are solely on them.
5. Rappers and Wrestlers rely heavily on their backstory.
For the most part in normal sports or music genres outside of Hip Hop nobody cares where you come from. In sports you don’t really need a cool and inventive back-story to sell you as a great player and in most musical genres your background won’t make or break your success. Again that’s not true for Wrestling and Hip Hop. Wrestlers come out of the gate with some largely made up past that is written specifically to catch a fan’s attention and make them root for or hate the wrestler. For Heels (bad guy wrestlers) the background is usually how they came from huge money and cheat to get what they want, or they came from the streets and don’t care about anything but making money. For Faces (good guy wrestlers) it usually has to do with working-class-boy-makes-good, or the wrestler is a beacon for justice and doing the right thing. Rarely if ever does a wrestler’s back-story contain any actual truth about them.
In Hip Hop it’s the same. Being average Joe with an ability to rap doesn’t sell records so rappers tend to invent a largely untrue criminal background to give themselves “street cred”. Most of the time they claim to have gotten their start as a drug hustler who then moved on to rap or they went to jail and got out with new life experiences that gave them the need to start rapping. It is a little trickier for rappers because if the truth comes out it could end their career. With Wrestlers everybody assumes it’s fake anyway.
Another interesting similarity between Wrestling and Hip Hop is the weird love of jewels. While most successful musicians and sports figure like to adorn themselves with jewels and expensive accessories it isn’t the backbone of their professional lives. The same can’t be said for Wrestling or Hip Hop. In Hip Hop jewelry is the best way you can show people that you’re the best because you get paid the most. Huge platinum chains with ridiculous medallions or hundred thousand dollar platinum teeth are the accoutrements that mean you are a total success. There is a similar vibe in Wrestling where all the efforts of every wrestler are tied up in winning a jewel encrusted belt of some kind.
Sure there are Superbowl or World Series Rings, but those aren’t really thrust into the face of other players. When was the last time you saw Patriot’s Quarterback Tom Brady playing in a game with his Superbowl Ring on? On the other hand Wrestlers have to take their jewel encrusted championship belt to EVERY SINGLE MATCH. Both rappers and wrestlers love to brag about how much their jewels cost and make it a primary focus of how they’ve climbed the ladder of success.
3. Wrestlers and Rappers love entourages with funny names
From Ric Flair’s Four Horsemen to 50 Cent’s G-Unit both Wrestling and Hip Hop love to give their little crews funny names. In wrestling if more than two guys are together it’s referred to as a “stable” and usually given a goofy nickname like Evolution or D-Generation X. The same is true in Hip Hop only it’s usually called a “crew” and the name has more of tough guy street vibe to it or some kind of exaggerated importance such as Ja Rule’s Murder Inc or Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella respectively. You really don’t see this idea in any other sports or music genre.
2. Wrestling and Hip hop were better back in the day
Both of these pop culture phenomenon have seen better times. Hip Hop used to be a nearly magical force of creativity and entertainment. There were multiple styles around from the street oriented Kool G Rap, the political Public Enemy, the Tribe Vibe of De La Soul and The Jungle Brothers or the basic good time rap like Whodini and Run DMC. The music was more industrious leaning on the creativity of the DJ as opposed to the computer, samplers and studio magic. These days Hip Hop is largely the same thing over and over again with the music consisting of bad samples and the lyrics a rhyming run down of everything said rapper owns. If not those then some inane jumble of lyrics with a catchy hook talking about a dance style. The cornucopia of styles and talent has largely dried up leaving the fans with a skeleton of what Hip Hop once was.
Wrestling is in the same boat. Originally the matches were an hour so you had to make them incredibly tense and entertaining, now its twenty minutes of over the top violence. The characters in the day were really creative and the ability to work both microphones and crowds were beyond reproach. Nowadays we have a boring guy like Randy Orton who just sounds simple and dull or even better the Great Kali who basically muttered everything he said. Gone are the days of Ric Flair, The Dream Dusty Rhodes, Bruno Samartino, Hulk Hogan and the ultimate showman Rowdy Roddy Piper.
1. You have to be athletic to be a wrestler but not an athlete and you have to be musical to be a rapper but not a musician.
This was one of the biggest similarities of both things because of how odd it is. In sports if you’re not an athlete with a particular set of skills you will not become a professional in the sport you choose. The same isn’t true for Wrestlers who need to be in shape but don’t have to know much more than how to fall down or sell a fake injury. Don’t get me wrong you have to be good at the craft of wrestling but that doesn’t make you an athlete. Normal guys right off the street walk in, train and become professional wrestlers. That rarely if ever happens with sports like Basketball, Baseball, Hockey, etc.
The same is true for rappers who need to have some understanding of music but don’t need to be musicians. Creating the music is usually left to DJs and producers, so why bother to learn how those machines work or how to play an instrument. In other genres you must know how to play something or sing and you should be fairly good at it to really get noticed. Rappers can become hugely successful without even the slightest idea how to create music. They have to be musical so they can feel what would sound good to the listener and how their lyrics match up but that isn’t being a musician.
So there you have it, my ten similarities between hip Hop and Professional Wrestling. I’m sure some will agree and some will be ramping up their hate mail as we speak but at least it might get some folks talking. I’m also hoping it’ll take away the stigma of wrestling being silly when in reality it’s not any sillier than Hip Hop, the current kingpin of musical culture.
Just something to think about.