The Encyclopedia of Rappers as Wrestlers
I can’t really say why wrestling seems to have undergone a cultural revival, though I suspect the short answer is “hipsters!” and the long answer is “hipsters!! (shaking fist).” This is probably attributable to bubble myopia more than anything real, but plenty of the music critics I know have crawled out of the dirt with their AUSTIN 3:16 shirts still intact, ready to flip on RAW and Tweet abundant about the week’s newest developments. It’s less ridiculous than it seems. The WWE’s storytelling has evolved in more self-aware, nuanced ways over the years—not intensely so, but enough to wash away some of the guilt over ever chanting “SUCK IT!” as a snot-crusted tween—and the wrestling remains as viscerally exciting an experience as it ever did, Shakespearean drama playing out via the brutal crunch of flesh and bone and metal chairs on skulls. Wrestling is the closest thing we have to homegrown kabuki, and its insular theatrics parallel the real-or-not histrionics of the rap game. So, I did the obviously idiotic thing and compared wrestlers and rappers for your reading pleasure.
Stone Cold Steve Austin — Kanye West
A real anti-establishment badass who refused to cotton to the mainstream and kept on finding ways to push the envelope. (Stone Cold’s beer truck = putting Bon Iver on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy) Every left-field sonic choice Kanye makes on each new record always feels like the most exciting thing in rap at that moment; consequently, the Stunner was always the most exciting thing in wrestling, at any moment. Just as Kanye broke hip-hop fashion norms by wearing a leather skirt, Stone Cold was the first man to wrestle in jorts. And their intro music! Kanye’s interrupted several rap concerts this year by walking on stage to do “New Slaves,” the opening bars of which signal a frenzy. It’s the same effect as Stone Cold’s iconic window shattering theme, which could trigger in your apartment right now and make you think the Rattlesnake’s about to bust the door down and kick your ass.