11 times metal ruled Wrestlemania

Lemmy, Nita Strauss, Ozzy Osbourne and Fred Durst in various Wrestlemania appearances
(Image credit: Lemmy and Ozzy: Getty, Nita and Fred Durst/Undertaker: WWE)

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

This weekend, wrestling's biggest event, Wrestlemania, returns for a two-night extravaganza in Los Angeles, California, so we thought we'd take a trip down memory lane to pick out 11 times heavy music has stolen the show at WWE's flagship show. From heavy metal legends accompanying their countrymen to the ring to nu metal heavyweights rubbing shoulders with Deadmen, it's been a wild ride over the past 38 years...

Metal Hammer line break

Ozzy Osbourne accompanies the British Bulldogs at Wrestlemania 2

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 at Wrestlemania 3

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 at Wrestlemania 17

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 18. Twice.

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. Not bad.

Drowning Pool play Wrestlemania 18. Twice. 

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 at Wrestlemania 19

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 at Wrestlemania 22

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 Hell In A Cell at Wrestlemania 28

When Triple H and 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. Skip to ten minutes in below to see it blare out at the cell ominously lowers around its two victims. 

Nita Strauss shreds for Shinsuke Nakamura at Wrestlemania 34

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. Skip to 18 minutes below to see her do her thing.

Metallica soundtrack The Undertaker's final match at Wrestlemania 36

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 at Wrestlemania 37

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. Last year, 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!

Wrestlemania 2023 takes place this weekend across two nights in Los Angeles, California. Head to WWE.com for info on how to watch both shows.

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.