For three decades, rappers have orally disseminated hip-hop’s love for professional wrestling through 16s. From rap standards like GZA’s “Shadowboxin’” (My style broke motherfucking backs like Ken Patera”) by way of Pusha-T’s veneration of Ric Flair to Westside Gunn’s entire discography; It would be forlorn to try to account for the many references to wrestlers in rap.
Wrestling began flirting with hip-hop entrances back in 1991. However, it would take until 1998 for the two cultural phenomenons to take their relationship public. Over the next two decades, a who’s who of hip-hop names have recorded original ring walk soundtracks for wrestlers. Some wrestlers have even tried moonlighting as emcees themselves with varying degrees of success.
From the kings of rock to the patron saints of trap, here are the 15 best hip-hop entrance themes in wrestling history.
15. Naughty by Nature — “Here Comes the Money” (Shane McMahon/WWE)
Back in 2001, Naughty by Nature were down with WWE like Vince McMahon was down with OPP. Two years after surmounting the Billboard charts with “Jamboree,” Treach and Vin Rock teamed up with WWE in-house virtuoso Jim Johnston, to record what would become the last notable song of their career, “Here Comes the Money.”
Tailor-made for the self-proclaimed genetic jackhammer’s only son, the theme has been the soundtrack to the millionaire daredevil’s death-defying leaps for the past 18 years. With more streams than the group’s classic singles, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” and “Uptown Anthem,” “Here Comes the Money” was also one of the many WWE themes remade by Smoke DZA on his series of Ringside EPs.
14. Lil’ Kim — “Time to Rock & Roll” (Trish Stratus/WWE)
As Vince McMahon’s buxom paramour, Trish Stratus was a focal point of WWE’s romanticized turn-of-the-millennium “Attitude Era.” Then, in 2001, Trish traded in her T&A for a shot at championship glory, revamping her image as an earnest wrestler. To complete the transition, WWE tapped Lil Kim’ to replace Trish’s garish Playboy TV jingle entrance music.
The resulting collaboration with Jim Johnston, the crowd galvanizing “Time to Rock and Roll,” turned the Queen Bee’s affable chuckle into an emblem of Stratus’ record-breaking run as WWE Women’s champion. Kim’s fondly remembered entry into the folkloric canon of entrance music was also wrestling’s first female hip-hop theme.
13. John Cena — “The Time is Now” (WWE)
What do Young Thug, Gucci Mane, and Pusha-T all have in common with John Cena? Nothing, John Cena is a Platinum-certified rapper. Selling over a million copies of You Can’t See Me the album, which featured both Bumpy Knuckles and Esoteric, birthed Cena’s signature tune, the “Ante Up” sampling “The Time is Now.”
Produced by former G-Unit affiliate Jake One (who had initially made the beat for Ghostface,) “The Time is Now“ ushered in the era of Super Cena—a humanoid force capable of surviving even the deadliest of beat downs. The soundtrack to indifference for over 14 years, the song later became the gag line of the ‘Unexpected John Cena,’ a viral meme parodying Cena’s perceived over-publicity within WWE.
12. CFO$ — “Sky’s the Limit” (Sasha Banks/WWE)
Cousin to Snoop Dogg, Daz Dillinger, Brandy, and Ray J, Sasha Banks has a DNA link to hip-hop. With West Coast rap royalty at family gatherings, “The Boss” should have emerged to a D.P.G.C. heater upon debuting in WWE. Instead, Sasha had to make do with a string of garden-variety stock beats, before in-house producers CFO$ settled on “Sky’s the Limit,” her bespoke entrance music, in 2014.
A slice of stadium purposed pop-rap, the anthemic “Sky’s the Limit” instant popularity with wrestling fans mirrored Banks’ expeditious rise through the WWE ranks. Breathing new life into her Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back attitude, the Doggfather himself added a verse for her WrestleMania debut in front of over 100,000 people in 2016.
11. Mad One & Konnan — “LAX Theme” (TNA)
LAX was the most provocative group in TNA wrestling’s ill-famed history. In 2006, they debuted an entrance theme that became equally notorious. An archetypal West Coast banger—complete with the obligatory Ohio Players “Funky Worm” sample—the theme set the tone for the trio of Konnan, Hernandez, and Homicide’s semi-fictional battle against industry racism.
Remembered by most as the company’s first great theme, Konnan and Mad One’s collaboration was one of many self-recorded themes by the wrestler-cum-rapper. One of the early pioneers of hip-hop in Mexico, where he released his solitary album Le Ley de Konnan in 1992, Konnan would go on to help introduce both Lucha Libre and hip-hop to the US wrestling audience in the late 90s.
10. Mad One — “The Reason” feat. Lil’ One (The Filthy Animals/WCW)
Not content with shooting hoops for the Raptors, Master P also debuted in WCW in 1999. As members of P’s No Limit Soldiers, Konnan and Rey Mysterio took on TRU’s “Hoody Hooo” as their theme. Fortunately, however, P Miller’s stint in WCW would last but a summer, costing the company a cool $2 million and countless fans.
With the Ice Cream Man in the rear mirror, Konnan and Mysterio reunited the Filthy Animals and debuted a pair of new Mad One theme songs; the “Vivrant Thing” inspired “Filthy, Dirty, Nasty” and the superior, “The Reason.” The Californian emcee would go on to perform themes for Rey Mysterio in WWE and LAX in TNA, making him the only rapper to record for all organizations.
9. C-Murder — “Wolfpac” (nWo Wolfpac/WCW)
Unimpressed with the stock catalog entrance music WCW had bestowed upon them following their monumental jump from WWE, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash would insist on having the Fugees’ “Ready or Not” accompany them to the ring for non-televised events. However, when they debuted their Wolfpac faction in 1998, the Outsider duo took a shine to Militia’s “Burn.”
To avoid a license fee, WCW recruited C-Murder to recreate the Oakland quintet’s summer smash. The resulting “Wolfpac theme” quickly rendered Militia a distant memory. Today, Hall and Nash are immortalized in hip-hop, with Conway the Machine and Westside Gunn naming their duo after them. Hall’s WWE theme has also found rap fame as a popular freestyle instrumental.
8. MVP — “Return of the Ronin” (TNA)
Forced to build a crowd response to Silkk the Shocker’s lethargic “I’m Comin” for years, MVP’s ring entrance drastically improved when he began recording his own themes. His first effort, the short-lived “Ballin,” was a dramatic improvement. However, it was during his time in TNA, where MVP registered his and TNA’s greatest theme, “Return of the Ronin.”
Debuting in 2015, “Return of the Ronin” immediately surpassed TNA’s catalog of tepid in-house themes; which was hardly surprising, since it had nothing at all to do with TNA. Produced by Mickael Zibi (the dulcet tones on Baby Bash’s “Cyclone”), the song made MVP the only wrestler to rap his own theme in multiple organizations; WWE, TNA, and New Japan.
7. John Cena — “Basic Thuganomics” (WWE)
John Cena’s “ass-kicking anthem” was the boom bap focal point of his new rap gimmick in 2003. The “Doctor of Thuganomics” wicked inflections and fatuous punchlines (“taking over Earth but still kicking in Uranus”) quickly made him a hot commodity in the alt-rap world, earning a feature with the Perceptionists and dropping bars alongside Murs and E-40 on a 9th Wonder beat.
Going Platinum with his Columbia debut, like Cru and Ill Biskits before him, You Can’t See Me would be Cena’s only opus. After committing to becoming WWE’s marquee attraction, it would be seven years before the icon touched a mic again, battling the Rock in the run-up to their WrestleMania showdown. A true rap chameleon, Cena returned to the studio in 2015 to trade bars with Wiz Khalifa.
6. Mad One & Konnan — “Psycho” (Filthy Animals WCW)
In 1997, Konnan was a household name in Mexico and a member of the hottest attraction in wrestling, the nWo. Catching the attention of executive J. Prince, Konnan was offered a deal to join Scarface on Rap-a-Lot Records. Going as far as to promise to purchase 500,000 copies himself, K-Dogg’s guaranteed Gold plaque was ultimately put on ice by WCW’s pre-existing deal with Tommy Boy.
Konnan would typically enter the ring to Public Enemy, “Guantanamera” by Wyclef Jean, or Kid Frost’s “La Raza” for non-televised matches, before debuting “Psycho” with Mad One in 1999. An infectious slice of Latin West Coast rap, “Psycho,” later became the theme for the Filthy Animals and was a B-Real hook away from being a crossover hit in its own right.
5. CFO$ — “Phenomenal” (AJ Styles/WWE)
Widely acknowledged as the world’s best wrestler, before his WWE debut, Christian hip-hop head AJ Styles spent the majority of his career emerging to less than phenomenal, poorly mixed, quasi-rap songs—the best of which being his GRITS featuring TNA theme “I Am.” Fortunately for AJ, CFO$ had a Dixie trap anthem on hand, worthy of his talents.
Patently inspired by DMX’s “Ain’t No Sunshine,” the organ-driven rap hymn took the internet by storm following Styles’ 2016 debut. The most popular WWE theme in recent memory, country and trap haven’t married this well since Timbaland met Bubba Sparxxx.
4. CFO$ — “Done With That” (The Usos/WWE)
Custodians of the Uso Penitentiary Samoan twins, the Usos are not only the best tag-team in WWE, but can also lay claim to having the company’s best entrance theme. After turning in their Scott Storch-lite theme, CFO$ assisted the Usos in refurbishing their act in 2017, with one of the most exceptional produced trap instrumentals in recent memory.
A DJ Toomp inspired barn-burner, “Done With That” wouldn’t have sounded out of place on T.I.’s King album. After adding a couple of passionate bars of their own to accentuate CFO$ cultured use of sub-bass 808s and syncopated hi-hats, the Usos followed in the family tradition of performing their theme song. Their father, Rikishi, was also a rapper of some standing.
3. Three 6 Mafia — “Some Bodies Gonna Get It” (Mark Henry/WWE)
Former Olympic weightlifter Mark Henry had 36 entrance themes, a sex addiction, and fathered a hand before Three 6 Mafia mercifully blessed him with “Some Bodies Gonna Get It” in 2006. Merely weeks after becoming the first rap act to win an Academy Award, Juicy J and DJ Paul were performing Henry’s new theme song live on WWE SmackDown.
The post-crunk riot anthem caused wrestling fans to immediately forget Henry’s decade of disrepute and set a championship course for the Strongest Man in the World. Guaranteed to get the most passive of crowds rumbling, “Some Bodies Gonna Get It” is the most globally recognized recording of a group mostly responsible for creating the modern trap blueprint over a quarter of a century ago.
2. Dr. Dre & Ice Cube — “Natural Born Killaz” (New Jack/ECW)
The reconciliatory collaboration between the former NWA members was not written to be a wrestling theme. But that didn’t stop ECW from making it one of the focal points of their shows. Hip-hop was omnipresent in ECW during the 90s; Mr. Hughes had MC Lyte’s “Ruffneck,” the Blue Meanie used the Dogg Pound’s “What Would You Do,” and the Dudley Boyz even broke out with Wu-Tang’s “C.R.E.A.M.”
“Natural Born Killaz” wouldn’t merely set the tone for New Jack’s devil-may-care brand of wrestling; the song would play throughout his matches, while Jack put a Bingo hall beatdown on opponents with a variety of household goods. Unlike Dre and Cube, however, New Jack was acquainted with murder, claiming four justifiable homicides from his days as a bounty hunter.
1. Run-DMC — “The Kings” (DX/WWE)
WWE’s sole foray into hip-hop, 2000’s Aggression, was a treasure trove of unlikely collaborations in the shape of repurposed themes. Bringing the eccentric duo of Kool Keith and ODB together, Ras Kass collaborated with Mystikal, while Redman teamed up with Heltah Skeltah’s Rock and Peanut Butter Wolf. Spearheaded by Method Man and Snoop Dogg’s reworking of The Rock and Steve Austin’s themes, respectively, the standout offering would come from Run-DMC.
Run-DMC was the first hip-hop act to perform at WrestleMania in 1989. A decade later, however, the group was on a hiatus, unable to agree on a creative direction. Reuniting for a makeover of DX’s Rage Against the Machine-inspired theme, the Kings of Rock fashioned the ultimate marriage of rap and wrestling. The unification of the two iconic factions wasn’t merely the best rap wrestling theme; it was also the last great Run-DMC song.