Sorry 80s fans, this article isn’t actually about the Rock N’ Wrestling Era of the WWF in the 1980s, where the WWF partnered with MTV to launch the era that elevated pro wrestling back into the mainstream zeitgeist. Rather, it’s a look at professional wrestlers who have gone onto legitimate musical careers (or in some cases, started as musicians) outside of their pro wrestling career. This isn’t about Koko B. Ware‘s “Pildedriver” or walking with Elias. With the recent release of Fozzy‘s latest single, “Painless”, of their recent album, Judas, here’s a look at 10 pro wrestlers who had successful music careers outside of their in-ring careers (Note: This list features more guitar oriented or pop artists – we’ll follow up with a rap/hip-hop centric list)
JIMMY HART, The Gentrys
Jimmy Hart was one of the founders of the Memphis pop/rock band in 1963, long before he picked up his megaphone to become “The Mouth of the South” and one of pro wrestling’s most colorful managers. The had a #4 Billboard hit with “Keep On Dancing”, before breaking up in 1966. Hart reformed the group in 1969 and they continued for a few more years (they released a version of Neil Young‘s “Cinnamon Girl” before Young himself did), before disbanding around 1972.
THE CRUSH GALS
From 1980 through 1989, the tag team of Chigusa Nagayo and Lioness Asuka – collectively known as The Crush Gals – pioneered a new era in women’s professional wrestling, both as a tag team (4x WWA World Tag Team Champions) and as singles wrestlers for All-Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling (AJW). But they were also huge pop stars in their native Japan, scoring multiple Top 10 hits in Japan throughout the 80s.
ANDY WILLIAMS, Every Time I Die
Buffalo’s Every Time I Die started out in 1998 and their metalcore discography has run the past two decades, beginning with 2001′ Last Night In Town, right up to 2016’s Low Teens, and being signed to huge punk/metal label Epitaph Records since 2009’s New Junk Aesthetic. But sometimes rock and roll isn’t enough. In 2015, longtime/founding guitarist Andy Williams entered the world of pro wrestling and has become a regular on the indie circuit since then, appearing frequently for Smash Wrestling in Toronto, Canada and Empire State Wrestling (ESW) in his hometown of Buffalo, as well as others.
CHRIS JERICHO, Fozzy
Chris Jericho’s band Fozzy (shortened from it’s original name Fozzy Osbourne) began in 1999 and released their debut self-titled album in 2000. Along with their second album, 2002’s Happenstance, Fozzy was more of a comedic party rock band, with Spinal Tap-esque origins and mostly cover songs. But on 2005’s All That Remains, Fozzy entered new territory as more of a “legit” band, focusing on their originals instead of the covers the previous two albums were based around. They’ve maintained that philosophy going forward, with 2010’s Chasing The Grail, 2012’s Sin and Bones and 2014’s Do You Wanna Start A War? Last year’s Judas is off to becoming Fozzy’s most successful release to date, off the strong lead title track and now their second single, “Painless”.
JEFF HARDY, PeroxWhy?Gen
Shortly after Fozzy debuted, Jeff Hardy launched his own band, PeroxWhy?Gen, in 2002, alongside wrestling pal Shannon Moore and members of Burnside 6, beginning with the 2002 EP Similar Creatures. The alt. rock band released four more albums, including 2013’s Plurality of Worlds, 2015’s Within the Cygnus Rift, 2016’s EP Spawn of Me, and last year’s Precession of the Equinoxes. On the Within the Cygnus Rift, Hardy recorded a full length version of the “Obsolete” song he used as Brother Nero during the Broken Hardys run in Impact Wrestling.
LITA, The Luchagors
Following Lita‘s retirement from the WWE in 2006, she formed a punk rock band called The Luchagors and released a successful debut album (produced by Skid Row bassist Rachel Bolan), which caught the attention of Rancid‘s Tim Armstrong. He signed the band to his own Hellcat Records. In 2012, the band was preparing to record their follow-up album with another Rancid member, Lars Frederiksen, producing, but the band seemed to dissolve shortly after the announcement.
WWE Superstar Mickie James first left the WWE back in 2010 and immediately began working on her own country music career. She’s since produced two full length albums, 2010’s Strangers & Angels and 2013’s Somebody’s Gonna Pay, and released a new single, “Shooting Blanks”, in 2016. Last year she was inducted into The Native American Music Awards Hall of Fame and won a NAMMY for “Shooting Blanks” as song of the year.
One of CHIKARA‘s longest running characters since the company opened its doors in 2002, the former CHIKARA Grand Champion banded together with members of the hardcore band Pissed Jeans in 2014 to form his own eponymous metal band. They’ve released two albums so far, 2014’s self titled album, and 2016’s EP, They Make Plans To Poison Us.
BRODY KING, God Hates
Los Angeles’ intense God Hates released their debut album, Divine Justice, in 2014, followed by 2016’s Mass Murder, but in 2015, their singer Brody King entered the world of professional wrestling after working with the Santino Brothers. Last year he really broke out in the indie circuit, and he’s now working with Championship Wrestling From Hollywood, WrestleCircus, Bar Wrestling, MLW as well as recently making his debut recently with EVOLVE as well as teaming with Every Time I Die’s Andy Williams in Smash Wrestling.
REIKA SAIKI & LADYBEARD, Deadlift Lolita
Much like the 80s, Japan still loves it’s J-Pop and Deadlift Lolita features two Japanese wrestlers, Joshi Pro Wrestling‘s Reika Saiki and Ladybeard, an Australian gaijin whose been working with DDT Pro since 2013. The band also features Babymetal guitarist Isao Fujita.
What other musicians became wrestlers (or vice versa)? Post videos in the comments section below!