The Motley Crue and WWE Story - What Could Have Been?
In the December 1985 to January 1986 edition of the WWF Magazine there was an article featured called "Grappling Glitter." It starts off talking about Southern California and the general mellow vibe that is kept down there, only to be interrupted when Freddie Blassie arrived putting everyone on edge. Still in 1985 the news that Blassie was coming to Los Angeles or San Diego with a protege was enough to make the population tremble.
The writer uses that to segway into how heavy metal had been shaking up the SoCal scene at the time with bands coming out of "such mundane communities as Reseda and Van Nuys." I thought it was pretty cool seeing Reseda mentioned there for unleashing bands playing fast paced, over the top music. These days Reseda is known for unleashing fast paced, over the top grappling with Pro-Wrestling Guerrilla running shows there several times a year.
Anyway, back to the article. WWF believed Motley Crue to be the "kings of L.A." Apparently they interviewed the Crue for this article. During which Vince Neil was asked what the band wanted to accomplish. To which the blonde haired lead singer replied, "We want to be the biggest, the rudest, the crudest and the sleaziest (expletive deleted) rock 'n' roll band on earth."
By the time this magazine was released they'd had several songs in the US Billboard Hot 100, their debut album had reached #77 in the Billboard 200 (Too Fast For Love). Shout at the Devil, their second released in 1983 reached #17 and the 1985 release, Theatre of Pain peaked at #6. They were already a band known internationally, and had a large following that contained a lot of young women, teenage girls, and the same for men and boys. The Crue were not just all the things Vince Neil mentioned, he, Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee were young attractive men. Mick Mars while not as young as the former three, could still attract the eye of the frustrated housewife. And let's face it, back in the 1980s there were a lot of party animals out there, but very few had a partying reputation on par with the Crue never mind more so than them and of course what do men in the above age bracket like to do? They like to party and meet hot young women who like to party!
To the best of my knowledge they did not make an appearance nor did they do any other kind of work with the then World Wrestling Federation back then. Given their reputation for being a wild band, even by rock 'n' roll standards it is only partially surprising to find out they got this far with the WWF, but never did utilize them on television. After all, if they appeared on a live broadcast in a euphoric state who could have possibly predicted what they may have said or done?! People could argue that they had Ozzy Osbourne at Wrestlemania for crying out loud, but Ozzy had something Motley Crue did not. Ozzy had a Sharon Osbourne. The WWF magazine was more likely to be purchased by a younger person, so this would appeal to the vast majority, while it portrayed that wrestling is cool, even Motley Crue says so, and it's done via the safety of a typed up article rather than in front of a live crowd or television audience.
Guitarist Mick Mars told the writer how he had been a wrestling fan for years. He grew up in Los Angeles and would catch the wrestling broadcast from the Olympic Auditorium. Those shows were ran by Mike LeBell, the brother of "Judo" Gene LeBell, the son of Aileen Eaton, boxing and wrestling promoter and the step-son of Cal Eaton, who also promoted boxing and wrestling. "I liked Mad Dog Vachon, the way he used to grunt like a mad dog, and the Zebra Kid, a mysterious wrestler with stripes all over his mask, and Mitsu Arakawa, with his oriental death grip, and the original Sheik, who threw fireballs at his opponents. And I loved Freddie Blassie. He was such a madman. He'd bite people and smash beer cans on his head to show how rough he was. I'd just watch and go, 'Wow man," expressed Mars.
The more mature member of the band recalled a story, "He was standing right there while we were playing I think we were all surprised. Somebody in the band said, 'Isn't that Mr. Wonderful?' People don't realize that we don't think of ourselves as stars, and certain things get us as excited as kids anywhere. Seeing Paul 'Mr. Wonderful' Orndorff standing there and watching our show was exciting." Vince chimed in, "It was cool, man."
That was the first time Mick had seen a wrestler in years. Since the band found success seemingly out of nowhere he no longer had the time to catch it on TV. In my opinion he probably just hard a hard time finding a TV in a hotel that another member of the band or of one of the other bands on the show had not smashed. After meeting Mr. Wonderful Mick started to make time whenever he could to catch the latest WWF programming. While watching some matches at the world famous arena Madison Square Garden, he noticed kids had Motley Crue t-shirts on, "I went, what? Wow! I saw that wrestling and Motley Crue had many of the same fans, and I thought it was neat."
With the next portion of the article I start to wonder if it is even legitimate or one they just made the whole thing up like an Apter mag! The same guy who liked a variety of nasty heels has the following to say about Hulk Hogan, "He's cool. He's really youth-orientated. He's out there to make kids happy, just like a rock 'n' roll band would be. I think he's really conscious of that." After that surprising reveal; a Motley Crue member liked a good guy, Mick does redeem himself with two of his other favorites.
"The guy's sick, I really like him. He has a big mouth and he's totally unpredictable. I think that even though he's a bad guy, there are a lot of people who love watching him." There can only be one man he was talking about and that is the one and only "Hot Rod, Rowdy" Roddy Piper. Mick had this to say about the other guy, "That guy's all right. He reminds me of the glitter rockers of the early '70s - David Bowie, Gary Glitter, Mott the Hoope, those guys. So many of the bands today have their roots in that era, Jesse's pretty happening." There's only one Jesse from the '80s that is synonymous with the WWF and that's Jesse "The Body" Ventura, the former Governor of Minnesota.
Mick Mars was not the only member of the band who enjoyed the shows put on by the World Wrestling Federation. They caught Tommy Lee's attention too, "After the matches were over, I wished I could get in the ring and wrestle somebody." Tommy was actually present at Wrestlemania XI about a decade later with his then wife Pamela Anderson. Tommy still had his fame from the Crue in 1995, plus media covered his divorce from Heather Locklear in the early '90s. Pam had been a Playboy model for half a decade and was well into the show that made her, Baywatch. Their marriage had been huge news just two months prior to the event. A year after it the couple would reach super-stardom when their "sex tape" was legitimately stolen, posted on a website and became the first celebrity video of it's kind to go viral setting up the long list of celebrities who since claim to have had tapes stolen, and then released.
To close the piece an argument between Vince and Mick was recapped. Mick believed professional wrestling and rock music had a strong connection. Vince did not and stated, "Wrestling is a sport, and rock 'n' roll is music - rock 'n' roll is feeling" insistently. "Mick counters smugly, 'It's feeling when you get a bodyslam man.' And then, sucking in his gums, he cracks up the other band members by squawking a message on my rape recorder to the stars of the WWF. 'Just keep wrestling!'"
If their antics after shows, before shows and frankly during shows too did not have a bad enough reputation by this point, they only got worse in 1986. They returned from a tour in the first quarter of the year. The plan was to take some time off and then work on a new album later on in the year. With time to themselves they seemed to get into worst situations than when they were on tour.
In May 1986 Tommy married Heather Locklear. As most newly weds do they went on honeymoon together. During their vacation an argument broke out between the two which eventually led to the police being called and witnesses saying they could hear Tommy threatening to kill Locklear and what sounded like a slap. Around a month later Vince Neil finally starts his jail sentence for his tragic DUI accident leaving Nicholas "Razzle" Dingley of Hanoi Rocks dead. He served 30 days due to a plea bargain his lawyer worked out, there were also hours of community service, a settlement sum to be paid and other punishments. However, Vince had also been allowed to delay starting his sentence by approximately a year to allow him to finish touring. The press was going to be negative anyway, but with such a lenient ruling, plus being allowed to finish up with the Crue gave the blood-thirsty journalists too much exposed flesh for them to sink their teeth into. Press all around the world had headlines along the lines of, “Drunk Killer Vince Neil Sentenced to Touring World with Rock Band."
I believe that the brief interview, presuming it was actually completed, would have been completed around the summer of 1985. Their album, Theatre of Pain was released in June and the get-up they had on in the pictures was part of their attire for the accompanying tour. The US leg started in the Northeast during July finishing just prior to Christmas '85 in Florida. Only three weeks into the new year and it was back on a plane to complete the European leg of the tour and be back by early March 1986 in Los Angeles, California. In my mind it just makes sense that while touring the Northeast was the perfect time to do it rather than rushing over the Christmas period when the magazine was fast approaching release date.
However, there is a story Tommy Lee and his first wife Elaine Starchuk were at Wrestlemania. Given how much of a fan Mick Mars was I find it hard to believe at least he didn't go too, if they didn't all go that is. Being seen at a big, star-studded show like that would not do them any damage, besides if it was a success there was bound to be a celebration afterward. According to the story Tommy decided to go to the Tropicana and watch mud wrestling when the WWF show was over, this was the final straw for Elaine in what had already been a volatile relationship. While in the taxi she kept berating him, insulting his mother and other such stuff people do when they're angry. Tommy snapped and punched her in the mouth. They got divorced very soon afterward.
The only problem is, the Tropicana where Tommy went to watch mud wrestling was not in New York. It was in Los Angeles. Which Wrestlemania they attended was not stated specifically, just "one of the first Wrestlemanias." The original seems most likely because their marriage was meant to be short and the ceremony supposedly took place on November 24, 1984 after he returned from a European tour. If it was Tropicana that Tommy was going to then it would mean they were married for nearly 18 months and that they attended the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena with "THE" main event, Hulk Hogan Vs. King Kong Bundy in a steel cage.
If Wrestlemania I was the show then you just have to think they'd done the interview anyway, they could publish it later in the year when all the attention had died down, it'd still be fairly quiet. Then they just had to wait and see what would happen before they actually did do something with them in front of video cameras. If it was Wrestlemania II then maybe, just maybe as they were in Los Angeles, if the whole legal issue with Vince Neil had been cleaned up then they would have used Motley Crue in their homebase to amplify the volume to the maximum level in the venue. Then perhaps when it was announced that Vince had been found guilty in May 1985 the WWF pulled the plug on it, but still invited them to watch as spectators. Probably with the hopes things would quieten down with the bad publicity they were receiving.
Vince is out of jail by the end of the summer of 1986, but he still has to do community service. Meanwhile Nikki Sixx has been sinking deeper into his addictions. Spending a lot of time by himself. Things are not helped when Tommy crashes his quad bike resulting in a cast on his leg for some time. They managed to get an album recorded by March 1987 and there are no signs that they were even considered for Wrestlemania in the Pontiac Silverdome. The week of the show Tommy and Nikki were in New York mastering the album. Vince may not have been allowed out of the state until he had finished his probationary period anyway now I come to think of it.
When Girls, Girls, Girls dropped in May 1987 it was platinum from the orders by shop alone meaning it received a position of #5 in the charts upon it's debut. The highest charting debut album from a metal band since Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains the Same in 1976. Girls, Girls, Girls peaked at #2. In the eyes of their fans Motley Crue could do no wrong. It must be remembered how fans are not investing in someone the same way a promoter is. The promoter stands to lose reputation and business which equates to a drop in profits. So, why would the WWF take an unnecessary risk when they could get bonafide legends that appealed to a wider age range too with the likes of Ozzy Osbourne (WM II) and Alice Cooper (WM III) to be on the shows instead? Having said that I just took a look at a list of celebrities in each town for Wrestlemania II and something interesting shows itself: Chicago and New York have around twice as many celebrities as Los Angeles, a statistic that would not exist with four members of a band added to the listing. Alternatively maybe they felt having Hulk Hogan in the city was enough by himself without too much celebrity involvement.
Whether there ever had been actual plans to bring Motley Crue in at either Wrestlemania, I have no idea at all. I do think it's pretty safe to say that Motley Crue unintentionally ensured they would not be used by the WWF again in any capacity for quite a long time. As by the end of 1987 Nikki Sixx had overdosed at least twice, the second time legally dying before being resuscitated in a last ditch effort to bring him back with a double dose shot of adrenaline straight into his chest. Just as an aside it was that experience which led Sixx to write arguably one of the most popular songs within Crue's long term fanbase even though it was not one of their most successful singles, Kickstart My Heart.
Tommy Lee was looking to try and get sober in an attempt to save his marriage with Heather Locklear. Vince Neil was drinking more. Mick Mars was depressed and disillusioned with the bands future, especially surrounding his bandmates behavior. Mars also had a degenerative bone disease which caused him considerable pain and he drank to kill that pain feeling the prescriptions he had been given did not even take the edge off of what he felt. A tour across Europe had to be cancelled during the year too.
They were arguably at the peak of their career. Some of them had hit rock bottom, others still had that to come. The band managed to get clean, or at least not too intoxicated for long enough to release an album in 1989, their first to reach number one in the charts and the fifth (out of five) to go platinum. Unfortunately the World Wrestling Federation had started to move away from the Rock 'n' Wrestling connection and the Crue would start to have problems even bigger than they did before for nearly a decade keeping them largely out of the spotlight other than seemingly a string of controversial situations they managed to get into. Let us not forget the whole saga that was Tommy Lee's love life as mentioned above.
Speaking of which, earlier I spoke about Wrestlemania XI with Pamela Anderson. She had actually been at the Royal Rumble before that, plus later in 1995 Shawn Michaels filmed an episode of Baywatch which aired in 1996. Amongst hardcore wrestling fans there has been a persistent rumor that something may have happened between Shawn and the Playboy playmate. One member of the Kliq joked that it didn't happen because Tommy would not leave her side with all those, not just guys, with all those wrestlers around her. Whichever member it was did say that he did not blame Tommy, with a laugh. A version of this rumor ends with Tommy Lee attacking Michaels from behind. Luckily Sycho Sid was near by and he plucked Tommy off of the Heartbreak Kid, putting an end to the incident. Some people have taken the whole thing even further claiming it was a conspiracy in an attempt to draw more attention on the event, Shawn, Tommy, Pamela and the WWF in general. I'm not quite sure how that works as the whole alleged thing received no sort of media attention outside of wrestling fan sheets and the like, which if it had happened it probably would have. If it did happened and the WWF were the ones who kept it quiet then it defeats the idea of it being a publicity stunt.
Moving swiftly forward at some point in the year of 1998 the Crue agreed to get back together. The plan was to release a greatest hits album, tour and then make some new stuff and just ease back into the grind. On the October 19, 1998 edition of Raw Is War - Yes, Shawn was out with his back injury at the time - D-Generation X (X Pac, Road Dogg, Billy Gunn, Chyna and Triple H) were shown partying in Motley Crue's tour bus. The segment was very short just purely to promote the fact that on October 25th, two days before the album was officially released Crue were going to play one of the two brand new songs from the album. That song was "Bitter Pill" and the Crue gave their first ever live performance of it on Sunday Night Heat. The next day "Wild Side" from the Girls, Girls, Girls album was going to be played on Raw with D-Generation X providing back-up dancing and singing. I have heard X-Pac talk about what a huge fan he was of the Crue, so it is pretty cool to go back and watch it. Which you can do with both songs in the below video.
The above appearances were the only ones ever made for the World Wrestling Federation television and they never appeared for the company following their name change to WWE either. Motley Crue broke up again by the end of the 1990s. Eventually they got back together in the latter half of 2004 and ended up with a successful relaunch of the band that continued until the end of 2015 when they signed a contract stating that they would never tour again. I felt very lucky to see them for the third and final time in 2015. The first show I attended by them will forever be my second favorite concert I've ever been to, it was part of the Carnival of Sins tour. Simply amazing showmanship during that gig. I should point out that the only concert that exceeded their show was KISS, need I say more?
Their name lived on in the company regardless. In big part because the superstar known as Test, real name Andrew Martin, was introduced to the WWF's audience during the Crue's appearances. He came out to check the microphone for them, in one of the appearances he had to pick up a fan and carry them out over his head. He left the Crue stating in interviews that it was too much hassle being their bodyguard and wanted to try and find his own stardom, rather than living off theirs. It is said that he got his name from saying, "Test, test, this a test," while checking the microphone for the glam rockers. Why a bodyguard would do that I have no idea. Of course it was all story and Test had actually been spotted and trained by Bret Hart. This was just a handy way to get him started with an instant character complete with back story. Even as late as the ECW relaunch by WWE in 2006 they mentioned his history with the Crue.
Following their 1998 time in WWF, Motley Crue's music has been used in pro-wrestling or by pro-wrestlers as inspiration on numerable occasions. Dawn Marie started using "Hell on High Heels" in the year 2000 as her Extreme Championship Wrestling entrance music. During the same year Chris Jericho's band Fozzy covered the highly acclaimed, much loved song "Live Wire" on their self-titled debut album. The track was actually the first song on side one on the first album (Too Fast For Love) Motley Crue ever released. As far as notable names go, Excalibur who is probably best known for his commentary work in Pro-Wrestling Guerrilla used "Kickstart My Heart" as his entrance music during shots in Ring of Honor.
After a few bands got back together in 2007 WWE's website asked several superstars who they would like to see re-unite. Ken Anderson had no bands he wanted to re-unite as his favorite were already back together:
"I remember when they kicked Vince Neil out of the band; I was so upset," he continued, "I never got to see them in concert until later, when they brought him back. It was one of the greatest concerts I've been to. If those guys could put out another album, it would be fantastic."
WWE's writer speculated that a new album full of original content and only original members was due out in 2009. They were wrong, it came out in June 2008 just a couple of months after the Mr. Kennedy comments. They also stated that the album would be called "The Dirt." That was the name it was originally scheduled to be called due to it being kind of a musical story that followed their 2001 autobiographical book called the same name. In the end the album was renamed the "Saints of Los Angeles" and debuted at #4 in the billboard charts quite impressive for a band whose last big hit was in 1989
Brock Lesnar has gone on record saying he is a big fan of Motley Crue often listening to them while working out. He also used the song "Shout at the Devil" to enter the arena when he was first in UFC. More recently Bubba Ray Dudley of the Dudley Boyz has talked about Motley Crue being his number one band. He said D-Von prefers Iron Maiden but digs all heavy metal including the Crue.
Probably the biggest Motley Crue fan in the WWE right now is Dolph Ziggler. He has had numerous outfits designed with Motley Crue in mind. Plus he has been known to use a Motley Crue lyric or two in his promos or online rants. At the biggest stage of them all, Wrestlemania, in specific the 31st edition of 'Mania Ziggler made a big deal out of the fact that he was wearing an all Crue outfit which is featured in the pictures below to close this article.
It's a shame that Motley Crue never made it to WWE more often. After I found the above mentioned article from the mid-1980s all I could think about was how awesome it would have been to have "Live Wire" or "Kickstart My Heart" as a theme for a Wretlemania or even for an NXT show today which seems to feature more heavy metal based music than the main brands. Just imagine for one night only or as a first time hearing of his new entrance song at Wrestlemania VI in Toronto, Canada instead of his normal music, the Ultimate Warrior came down to "Live Wire." The options are limitless.
The picture on the left is prior to Wrestlemania XXXI. On his jacket is a symbol unique to the European leg of their 1989 Dr. Feelgood tour. Due to cancelling in 1987 there was never a Girls, Girls, Girls tour over there. So, when they did tour in 1989 they made it a tour for both of the albums combined. Part of this was releasing t-shirts, programs and etc. for Europe which featured sexy nurses from the Girls, Girls, Girls tour draped across the Dr. Feelgood symbol off of the album cover. Also on the front of his tights he had the words, "Looks That Kill." The circle with "DZ" inside is most likely meant to be symbolic of the Shout at the Devil symbol which featured an upside down pentagram.
On the right hand side at the top of his jacket it says "DZ Crue." Then it has the Dr. Feelgood symbol sans-Girls, Girls, Girls influence. The back of his tights have his name written on them in the style of the Girls, Girls, Girls era Motley Crue logo. I can not remember when this picture was from. I'm sure there have probably been other outfits which paid homage and other wrestlers who have too, but I hope you enjoyed the article and please feel free to forward any other Motley Crue related wrestling tidbits you know!
By Jimmy Wheeler
As unique content strictly for the Professional Wrestling Historical Society