As well as being a fan of heavy metal, Hammerfall's Oscar Dronjak is a die-hard fan of professional wrestling. From tape-trading with UK fans growing up, it became a lifelong obsession. Here are his top five moments in WWE history...
Jake Roberts Attacking Randy Savage With A Cobra
“I wasn’t watching wrestling in the 80s, I wasn’t exposed to it since we only had two channels and wrestling never was big in Sweden. I knew what it was, of course, having watched some NWA matches involving Magnum T.A. and Ric Flair, as well as Dusty Rhodes on VHS. But when I saw what Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts did to ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage, I was baffled. He had a snake – a king cobra, no less! – actually bite another man in the arm!? Add the Undertaker’s intro and evil persona to that, and I couldn’t believe my eyes, I had to find out what this was all about. And somewhere around that time, my love-bordering-obsession with professional wrestling began. It lasted for more 15 years, and I even had my own fanzine for a couple of years. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure whether or not it was for real or just an act. I mean, the snake actually bit Savage in the arm! Obviously, I didn’t think there was any venom involved, we wouldn’t be watching a murder on television. But still, the part of me that wanted to believe was so strong, it took over for a while.”
Undertaker vs Mankind at King Of The Ring 1998
Eventually, with the ascension of ECW and UK wrestling magazine Power Slam (of which I, naturally, still have every copy in mint condition), I got to know a lot more of the behind-the-scenes-action, but that didn’t deter from my enjoyment a bit. Quite the opposite, actually. With the exception of heavy metal, wrestling was the thing in my life for a long, long time. For a while there, I can’t say for sure I wouldn’t have left the music business for a spot in the wrestling industry, if I had been given the opportunity. When the Undertaker tossed Mankind off the top of the cage in the Hell In The Cell match at King Of The Ring ‘98, I stood up screaming, not believing what I had just actually witnessed. First, I thought Undertaker had killed Mankind. Then, the cynic in me immediately rewound the tape (being Swedish, this was the only way to get to see wrestling, through tape-trading with UK suppliers) and played it over and over, trying to see where they had edited it. I knew it was live, but I still couldn’t believe it. Finally, Mankind rose up again. What?! And took ANOTHER incredible bump, THROUGH THE FUCKING CAGE! And then, of course, out came the thumbtacks. I had seen a lot of ECW and FMW before, but this was on a whole other level. To this day, it still stands out as the biggest shock and awe moment in professional wrestling for me, and there have been quite a few.
Shawn Michaels vs Bret Hart at Survivor Series 1997
“The Montreal Screw-job, as it has been so aptly named, was a monumental incident in wrestling history, and took place at the 1997 Survivor Series. Watching the match without prior knowledge, I thought the finish seemed a bit fishy, but I had no idea they actually screwed Bret ‘The Hit Man’ Hart for real. This would be like the producers of a TV series killing off their biggest star without him knowing about it. On live TV. The magnitude of this can not be understated. WWF head and owner Vince McMahon and his World Champion Bret Hart had had a contract dispute for a while before the event, and couldn’t come to terms. The proud Canadian Bret refused to drop the belt in his hometown, but Vince wouldn’t have it. So McMahon, in secrecy, ordered referee Earl Hebner to call the match as soon as Hart’s opponent, Shawn Michaels, put him in Bret’s own finishing move, the Sharpshooter. Hebner told the time-keeper to ring the bell as if Bret had submitted, gave Shawn the belt and everyone except Bret Hart quickly retreated to the locker room. Vince McMahon came out to the ring to try to talk to Bret – remember, this was a live pay-per-view – and got a face-full of gob for his efforts. The aftermath was equally astounding, as Bret went straight to WCW and that only escalated the war between them and WWF (now known as WWE). But not before he, by all accounts, had decked Vince McMahon in the locker room right after the match. Did someone say ‘soap opera’?”
Chris Jericho Is Crowned The First Ever Undisputed Champion
“By 2001, WWE had won the war and had bought up the competition. They staged an WCW invasion, but didn’t execute it well enough for it to be the kind of success it could have been. The WCW title (just called the World Championship) and the WWF title were to be merged into one, and a one-night, four-man tournament had been set up to determine the Undisputed champion. WWF Champion ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin faced Kurt Angle in the first match, and Austin left with the belt. World Champion The Rock was embroiled in a feud with Chris Jericho, and they squared off in a heated contest which involved Vince McMahon, who by this time had embraced the heel role fully and represented the dreaded ‘management’. Everyone thought the ultimate showdown between The Rock and Steve Austin would happen on the night, since they were by far the biggest stars in the company. But thanks to interference by the boss, Chris Jericho managed to hit a low blow and The Rock’s finisher, The Rock Bottom, for the win. So the final match of the evening was arguably the biggest star ever in the business versus a relative newcomer (Jericho had made a highly-publicised jump from WCW two years earlier). I was so sure Austin would win I would have bet my house (if I had had one back then) on it. But Chris Jericho prevailed, albeit due to the last WCW champ Booker T, who cracked ‘Stone Cold’ over the head with the belt leading to the pin. The next day, history repeated itself on Raw, and Chris Jericho would go on to hold the title until WrestleMania the next year, when Triple H defeated him. I didn’t know Chris back then, but I was very happy for him!”
The Rock Mocking Billy Gunn
“For a long time, The Rock was my favourite wrestler. Not because of what he did in the ring, so much as what he did outside of it. Specifically, his interviews. The first time I took notice of that was when Gennifer Flowers interviewed him during the broadcast of WrestleMania XIV. The interviewer posed a question, and The Rock smiled like he owned the world, and started talking, referring to himself in the third person. It was “Well, The Rock feels like this…” and “The Rock thinks that…” and I was loving it! He has a natural charisma about him than is virtually unrivalled in pro-wrestling, and it was no surprise he made it big in Hollywood. The Rock is funny too, which was why I started digging his interviews more than any other superstar. The normal insults slung back and forth on-screen between wrestlers usually range from tired to entertaining, but The Rock took things to a new level. His jokes about his opponents were fresh, hilarious and very succinct. He also had a bit where he would ask the interviewer, or whomever he was talking to at that time, what his name was, and when the person begun to respond he would cut them off by yelling “IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOUR NAME IS!” It was obnoxious, of course, and a total bully move, but I loved it all the same. This final memory encapsules the Rock in all his glory, for those of us who were lucky enough to be following it back then understands that this type of performer comes along once a lifetime. If that, even. He held the audience in the palm of his hand, everytime he went out there. I miss those days. What was that, you what? IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU… Well, you get the drift.”
Hammerfall’s new album ®Evolution is out now in loads of snazzy formats.
Limited Edition Double Blue Vinyl from NB UK Webstore.
Limited Edition Digipack CD (inc bonus track and signed insert) from Recordstore.co.uk.
Limited Edition Double Vinyl (inc signed insert) from Recordstore.co.uk.
Digital Album Bonus Version (inc bonus track & digital booklet) from iTunes.