From Ozzy Osbourne and the British Bulldogs to Edge's legendary Slayer entrance, here are 12 times heavy metal ruled WWE's biggest show, Wrestlemania

Ozzy Osbourne, Nita Strauss and Lemmy taking part in various WWE events
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether it's Stone Cold Steve Austin's love of Saxon and Judas Priest, Chris Jericho fronting his own metal band Fozzy or Megadeth icon Dave Mustaine presenting Triple H with the Spirit Of Lemmy Award at Download 2016, the link between pro wrestling and metal has been a constant since way back in the 1980s. 

This coming weekend, WWE's biggest annual event and the biggest spectacle in all of wrestling, Wrestlemania, returns for its 40th incarnation courtesy of a two-night extravaganza in Philadelphia, so we thought we'd take a trip down memory lane to pick out 12 times heavy metal has stolen the show on the grandest stage of them all. From rock legends accompanying their countrymen to the ring in Wrestlemania's earliest days to nu metal heavyweights rubbing shoulders with undead icons, metal and the WWE have combined to provide some timeless moments we'll never, ever forget.

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(Image credit: Future)

Ozzy Osbourne accompanies the British Bulldogs (Wrestlemania 2, 1986)

Following the success of the inaugural Wrestlemania a year prior, its sequel was held simultaneously at three different venues across the United States on April 7 1986. One of the shows, taking place at the Rosemont Horizon (now the Allstate Arena) just outside Chicago, featured a main event of The Dream Team (Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake) defending the WWF Tag Team Championships against The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid). Accompanying the Bulldogs and their manager Captain Lou Albano to the ring? None other than Ozzy Osbourne, who watched on as the Brits captured the gold.

Alice Cooper accompanies Jake 'The Snake' Roberts (Wrestlemania 3, 1987)

Jake 'The Snake' Roberts was one of the most feared and respected wrestlers of his era, rarely seen without his beloved pet python Damien (look, the 80s was a wild time, OK?). Who better to be in Jake's corner for his Wrestlemania 3 hoedown against The Honky Tonk Man than the godfather of shock rock himself, Alice Cooper?! Alice even got in on the action, grabbing Damien and freaking out poor Jimmy Hart with his slithery pal after the match. "I had performed in front of big audiences, but nothing like WrestleMania III. It was terrifying," The Coop would say years later.

Motörhead play Triple H to the ring (Wrestlemania 17, 2001)

Triple H's relationship with Motörhead - and Lemmy in particular - is well documented. The British rock legends soundtracked Trips' famous The Game entrance theme in the early 2000s, and he and Lem became firm friends over the years that followed. At Wrestlemania 17 in 2001, the two icons united in the coolest way imaginable, as Motörhead actually played Triple H to the ring for his match with fellow WWF mainstay, The Undertaker. Badass. Motörhead would repeat the trick a few years later for Wrestlemania 21.

Saliva play Wrestlemania twice (Wrestlemania 18, 2002)

Nu metal was well and truly ruling the world in the early 2000s, and the WWF knew it. Saliva were becoming one of the US's biggest alternative bands at the time, so for Wrestlemania 18 at the Toronto SkyDome in 2002, they got to play the biggest party in wrestling twice - once to kick off the show and again to play The Dudley Boyz to the ring later on. Not a bad night's work.

Drowning Pool play Wrestlemania twice too! (Wrestlemania 18, 2002) 

Hey, we told you nu metal was big in those days! Sure enough, Wrestlemania 18 was granted four nu metal performances in 2002, with Drowning Pool also pulling double-duty, playing their single Tear Away and following in the footsteps of Motörhead by playing a re-tweaked version of The Game for Triple H's entrance ahead of the show's main event. Drowning Pool's cover of The Game definitely hasn't served as the definitive version, but it's still remains a fun throwback to a unique time. 

Limp Bizkit play The Undertaker to the ring (Wrestlemania 19, 2003)

Anyone reading this who followed the WWE/F in the early 00s surely knew Limp Bizkit would appear in this list at some point; Rollin' was famously The Undertaker's theme song of choice during the early days of his American Bad Ass era. Fred and the boys finally got to play the song for him in person at Wrestlemania 19 in 2003, ahead of his match against The Big Show and A-Train. And, like their predecessors at Wrestlemania 18, Bizkit also got to play the event twice, performing Crack Addict earlier in the show. 

P.O.D. play Rey Mysterio to the ring (Wrestlemania 22, 2006)

Christian nu metal veterans P.O.D. not only put out some certified bangers in the early 00s; they're also etched into WWE canon forever after penning the theme tune for legendary cruiserweight Rey Mysterio. Rey's fellow San Diego natives played him to the ring for his historic triple threat match against Randy Orton and Kurt Angle for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 22. Rey would emerge victorious, securing his first world title.

Metallica soundtrack a classic Hell In A Cell (Wrestlemania 28, 2012)

When Triple H and The Undertaker stole the show in a brutalising match at Wrestlemania 27 in 2011, you sensed their Mania legacy might not be done yet. Sure enough, one year later in Miami, the two WWE icons took things to another level courtesy of one of wrestling's most infamous and dangerous encounters - Hell In A Cell. As if throwing in fellow WWE legend Shawn Michaels as special guest referee wasn't enough to add to the occasion, the demonic cell structure itself even got its own entrance theme - Metallica's The Memory Remains

Nita Strauss shreds for Shinsuke Nakamura (Wrestlemania 34, 2018)

After taking a back seat at Wrestlemania for most of the following decade in favour of pop, hip hop and r'n'b acts, metal has returned in a big way at Wrestlemania in recent years - not least at Wrestlemania 34 in New Orleans in 2018. Reigning WWE Champion AJ Styles defended his title against recent Royal Rumble winner Shinsuke Nakaruma, and the challenger decided to level-up his rock star entrance courtesy of an army of violinists and an appearance from guitarist Nita Strauss, who soloed the crap out of Shinsuke's badass theme.

Metallica soundtrack The Undertaker's final match (Wrestlemania 36, 2020)

As a man who went undefeated at Wrestlemania for 21 matches straight, The Undertaker will forever be etched into the lore of WWE's biggest show. At Wrestlemania 36 in 2020, in what would turn out to be his final bout, The Phenom defeated AJ Styles in a unique, cinematic 'Boneyard' match. The encounter was bookended by the use of Metallica banger Now That We're Dead - the third time the metal legends' music had been used to hype an Undertaker match at Wrestlemania following Manias 27 (For Whom The Bell Tolls) and 28 (The Memory Remains). 

New Years Day play Rhea Ripley to the ring (Wrestlemania 37, 2021)

Anyone who's read our interview with Rhea Ripley knows she's the most metal wrestler to hit the WWE's women's division in years, even utilising much-missed Suicide Silence frontman Mitch Lucker's famous 'death stomp' in her entrances. In 2021, she went one step further by getting Cali metallers New Years Day to play her to the ring for her match against Asuka for the Raw Women's Championship. They even stomped along with her!

Edge makes a historic, Slayer-powered entrance (Wrestlemania 39, 2023)

Adam 'Edge' Copeland is famously a huge metal fan, telling Metal Hammer back in 2021 that he longed to see Metallica actually play Wrestlemania one day. We can only imagine his excitement at getting to use classic, evil AF Slayer anthem Angel Of Death for his spectacular entrance at Wrestlemania 39 in Los Angeles last year. Donning a glittering skull mask and bat wings, it might just make for the most metal wrestling entrance of all time.

Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He is also probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.