Da Art Of Storytelling: Two Peas in the Same Ring

Posted: January 11, 2013 in Blog, Dyscyplynary Action, Hip-Hop, Wrestling
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Earlier this week on WWE’s flagship show Monday Night Raw, WWE Champion CM Punk cut a lengthy promo in the midst of his 418-day title reign. Known for outspoken, line-blurring tirades swapping kayfabe and reality, Punk went on to berate the crowd in preparation for his match against The Rock at Royal Rumble on January 27th. When Rocky finally appeared to meet Punk face-to-face, it picked up into an interesting back-and-forth with both performing his usual routine. As I was glued to the TV waiting to see what will develop next, Punk said a familiar quote that caught my attention:

You need to understand that all your jabs and your little insults is all kid and games… come Royal Rumble when you step in the ring, your arms are too short to box with God.

That one line blew up my Twitter timeline full of wrestling marks and Hip-Hop lovers alike, and for good reason. “Your Arms Too Short To Box With God”, a Broadway musical directed by Vinnette Carroll, is also one of the most used lines in Hip-Hop. The most notable use of it came from one Nasir Jones on his Stillmatic standout “You’re Da Man” (though it has been used on Big Daddy Kane’s “Mortal Combat” and in various other forms as well). When I see someone like CM Punk dropping a reference that is recognizable to those deep in the rap world, it comes as no surprise. To me I see a number of similarities between the Straight-Edge Superstar and the Queensbridge legend.

Like Nas, Punk is considered a “voice of the voiceless”; one that isn’t afraid to say what is on his mind in spite of controversy. For much of his career, he has faced adversity on and off-screen and end up succeeding through it all. Much like our friend Nasir, he can also come off as delusional and preachy. After all, he did adopt a look similar to Jesus Christ during his ill-fated run as “Savoir” of The Straight-Edge Society. I could go on and on with this comparison, but I’ve done something like that before and this was used to show how much CM Punk and professional wrestling in general embodies Hip-Hop in every way imaginable.

Wrestling and rap are completely inseparable from one another. While in the 1980s when then-WWF ushered in a Rock-n-Roll Revolution, the ones that grew up on it happen to rhyme by the time the Attitude Era hit its peak. The 90s was the pinnacle of clusterfuck entertainment and while pro wrestling was amassing the height of its popularity by the end of that decade, rap was turning the corner into the pop mainstream Mecca. It was only a matter of time before the two interacted with WWF releasing a Hip-Hop compilation of some of the superstars’ theme music and WCW bringing in the No Limit Soldiers (which failed miserably I might add). Nonetheless, this was a five-star match made in Heaven.

There’s not one rap song that go by nowadays that doesn’t have a reference to Ric Flair or Bob Backlund. Buzzing New York MC Action Bronson has made a living using 80s WWF references in his lyrics, as far as naming a song based off jobbing legend Barry Horowitz. I think one of the reasons I am fond of his music, in particular 2012’s impressive Blue Chips mixtape, is the way he would incorporate a rare Marty Janetty line out of nowhere. The only other rapper of his extensive wrestling knowledge that would do the same thing is Smoke DZA. Starlito often refers to himself as The Ultimate Warrior and has a mixtape series in his honor. It’s a good number of shining examples that show how both are one in the same.

The whimsical world of pro wrestling is imbued with larger-than-life characters that are enamored by the public. That’s the same as it is with rap and the over-exaggerated extensions of themselves. Whether it would be a white-boy from Detroit with mental problems (Eminem), a correctional officer turned drug kingpin overnight (Rick Ross), or a masked enigma that has multiple personalities (MF DOOM), all rappers have a gimmick that makes them marketable and memorable. As with those with certain gimmicks, it takes the right person to make that work. Take for instance Trinidad James, a man that has an abundance of gold jewelry around him looking like a live representation of Junebug. While he says this is actually how he is, there is no doubt that it is bolstered up a bit to get him over.

Rappers also love to beef, feuding over some of the pettiest shit around. However, there would often be a good war of words that would put both guys on a higher pedestal than they ever were. Nas/Jay-Z and East Coast/West Coast are as close as we’re going get to a Bret Hart/Shawn Michaels and DX/Nation Of Domination analogy, because most of these squabbles today suck. To this day, I have no interest in listening to a 10-minute rap song full of constant beat changes (I’m looking at you Cassidy).

Independent/Underground/Internet darlings are also praised to nauseating levels by both the wrestling and Hip-Hop blogosphere. When news of an Indie wrestling star gets signed by WWE or TNA, the reaction is very similar to that of a buzzing young rapper getting a million-dollar deal from Interscope or Def Jam. Would they be used correctly? How much of an impact would they make in the long run? Would they succeed when it matters most? It’s the anticipation and hype surrounding a sensation that made a name for himself through the internet that makes it intriguing.

There’s a ton of things I can grab out of this comparing my two favorite pastimes, but it will take pages among pages and multiple chapters in doing so. This is just the tip of the iceberg and for as long as wrestling and rap is still around, there will always be something that will unite them even further.

(* There’s no way I was going to post a link of Cassidy for you guys to suffer. If you want to go and do that for yourself, be my guest.)

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