This feature was supposed to be about something else entirely. Then before I could even wipe the cold out of my eyes Tuesday morning, Soulja Boy and Bow Wow were telling anyone who will listen they’re ready to take on any and everyone within WWE.
Along with a couple of others, Randy Orton responded in kind, and the digital back and forth continued for a couple of days. Even Alexa Bliss took time out of her busy conjuring schedule for this:
What’s a “Soulja boy”? Well, whatever it is ... Randy is not happy with it. #watchmeyuuuuuu— Lexi Kaufman (@AlexaBliss_WWE) March 2, 2021
Only Vince McMahon knows how or if WWE plans to leverage this newfound attention, but they certainly should. It took a while, but maybe, thanks in part to Bad Bunny, WWE finally realized if there’s one musical genre they should hitch their wagon to for the foreseeable future, it’s Hip-Hop.
For a long while, WWE toiled under the impression that Rock music provided their best opportunity for crossover success. Yeah, they dabbled in Hip-Hop every now and then, but most of this dabbling consisted of multiple Flo-Rida appearances. By that point in his career, Flo’s records were more appropriate for Top 40 than something a Hip-Hop DJ would spin.
But persist they did, and in an attempt to be everything to everyone, we got half-hearted endeavors. Most of the theme music for PPVs were alt-rock or Nu Metal better left in the late ’90s. WWE ignored the shifting pop culture landscape beneath their feet. Then again, what else could we possibly expect from a company run by a man who didn’t know Scarface was a thing?
Hip-Hop’s pop culture dominance is unarguable. Drake and Cardi B do Super Bowl commercials, Kendrick Lamar has a Pulitzer prize, and Snoop Dogg is best friends with Martha Stewart for Pete’s sake, your sake, or anyone else’s. The genre surpassed Rock as the dominant music in 2018, a title it’s hard to see it relinquishing any time soon.
Terms like “woke,” “Stan,” and pretty much anything we read on the internet ad nauseam were birthed in rap verses. Hip-Hop is the arbiter of what’s cool. For a company that tries so hard to be on the cutting edge, marrying WWE and rap always seemed like a no-brainer.
‘Crank that’ came out in ‘07 you had a hell of a year. Serious $. Hats off to ya my dude. Here’s the thing tho... I like rap. I bump that shit all day whether it’s tunechi, meek, JZ...but you call what I do to survive, fake? Fuck that. Come to my world and say that. Dare ya https://t.co/P3qx5bu6ks— Randy Orton (@RandyOrton) March 2, 2021
It bears repeating, but rappers genuinely like wrestling. Over the past 20 years, WWE had ample opportunity to holla at these guys, Drake, Wale, Rick Ross, Pusha T, Lil’ Wayne, Method Man, Redman, Action Bronson, Flatbush Zombies, seriously the list just goes on and on. And in those 20 years, each of the guys mentioned achieved various success levels with very passionate fanbases.
These are fans who hang onto every letter of every word in any verse a rapper utters; they’re potent voices. Rick Ross showed up backstage five years ago during one of The Rock’s comebacks. What did WWE do with one of the most popular rappers on the planet? Gave him a glorified cameo and a shoutout from the People’s Champ.
At least they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
Maybe this time is different. Bad Bunny is paying dividends with the young audience WWE needs. Whether it’s teenagers or adults under 35, they’re making inroads and beating back an alarming trend. Hip-Hop is the voice of the youth, and for WWE to endure long enough for my future kid to have this same conversation when he’s my age, the company has to rededicate itself to being on the cusp of what’s dope. At that point, they can figure out how to fit that trend, style, or artist into their world. When wrestling was most popular, it did that organically rather than jamming a square peg into things square pegs shouldn’t go into.
If any generation is going to break down the barrier between Hip-Hop and wrestling, it’s this one. More than a few wrestlers wear their love of the culture on their sleeves. Just look at the pen and pixel design for the Street Profits t-shirt, sure to bring back memories of No Limit and Cash Money albums. Anyone telling you they know what WWE will do when it comes to Bow Wow and Soulja Boy is selling wolf tickets. As wrestling fans, we’re conditioned to think everything is part of the hustle, and in this case, fingers crossed it is and leads to something bigger down the line. They, and the fans, want the smoke. WWE should give it to us by the truckload and never look back.
You know the deal, cagesiders. If you think I’m crazy like a fox or just crazy, let me know.