In the Tuesday episode of Songs in the Key of X, I noted that fans of horror and professional wrestling are Rob Zombie’s demographic. I joyfully count myself among that focus group. At the time of recording, I only had a vague idea of Zombie’s association with WWE. I am nothing, however, if not a professional. I did my due diligence. Here are the results of my investigation into what I call the Rob and Wrestling Connection.
Rob Zombie’s song, “Feel So Numb,” was used as the official theme for WWE’s No Way Out pay-per-view in 2002. It’s not what one would call a great show. The nWo, consisting of Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan, came back to the company. Honestly, where the hell were they gonna go? WCW was a thing of the past. Vince bought the company in 2001, and bringing in the biggest faction from the defunct company’s biggest nemeses seemed like a ratings winner. And why not have Scott Hall make a joke about his own alcoholism? It was funny in the worst possible, asshole puckering way.
“Feel So Numb” really was the theme song for No Way Out, but you’re going to have to take my word for it. In its current broadcast incarnation on the WWE Network, the song is nowhere to be heard. Instead, we get some awful rock and roll background noise as its replacement. It’s weird because you can hear Jim Ross reference “Feel So Numb” about an hour and 38 minutes into the show. He says Triple H is going to feel “extremely numb” after his match against Kurt Angle. Now, 17 years later, the only thing numbing is that generic swamp boogie that passes as music for the rest of the show.
But the WWE wasn’t finished with Rob Zombie yet.
When you go back and watch No Way Out on the WWE Network, you can hear another Rob Zombie song, “Never Gonna Stop,” at the beginning of the Intercontinental Championship match. It plays as Edge struts down the ramp to battle William Regal. That’s a fun match, featuring a bleeding Edge, William Regal’s unflattering buzzcut, and a pair of brass knuckles on a pole. It smells like a Vince Russo creation, but Edge and Regal worked well together. I’m pretty sure either of them could put anyone over. They certainly did for each other.
Edge used “Never Gonna Stop” as his entrance theme from 2001 to 2004. After that, his theme song became “Metalingus” by Alter Bridge.
“Metalingus.” Good gods, that’s a funny title.
“Metalingus” remained Edge’s theme until his retirement, and was voted WWE’s most popular entrance song ever. But, there was still a bunch of love for the Rob Zombie song. Fans missed it. “Never Gonna Stop” is still associated as much with Edge as it is Zombie himself. In an interview, Edge declared that switching themes wasn’t his idea. WWE’s rights to the song simply ran out. They chose not to pick up the option. Suddenly, “Never Gonna Stop” betrayed its own title. It stopped.
We didn’t hear from Zombie on WWE again until 2010 when he served as RAW’s guest host. He was there to announce the competitors for the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. During Zombie’s spiel, Edge showed up on the Titantron to talk about why he wasn’t using “Never Gonna Stop” as his theme anymore. Zombie interrupted The Rated-R Superstar, saying that he took the song back because he couldn’t stand Edge’s behavior as a heel.
In the wrestling world, that was the perfect set-up for an angle. A WWE Superstar who has heat with a rock and roll star? A behind-the-scenes conflict that was brewing for years? That’s golden. That’s money. They could have called it the Copyright Battle and thrown it onto a pay per view. The buys would have been out of this world. Let Edge get a little color on him, and it could have been a fantastic celebrity match.
But, that was it. Zombie bade the audience a good night, climbed out of the ring, and disappeared into WWE history. Sure, he did a neat little wrap-up video describing how much he enjoyed the experience. But, what was he going to say? “Man, I was on RAW and it sucked?” That’s not how contractual obligations work.
It was five years later on Culture Shock, the short-lived Corey Graves series on the WWE Network, that Zombie finally reappeared. It was at the Alternative Press Music Awards, alongside bands like Motionless in White and Black Veil Brides. Zombie got maybe sixty seconds of screen time. Not once was his night as the guest host of RAW mentioned.
In his “so long, and thanks for all the royalties” video package, Zombie acknowledges the similarities between WWE crowds and his live audiences. “Never Gonna Stop” provided a perfect storm of merchandising opportunities. Edge’s use of the song created a crossover between rock and wrestling that hadn’t been exploited since the halcyon days of Cyndi Lauper and Captain Lou Albano. Sure, Triple H was a Motorhead fan. The American Badass, the Bikertaker, was using Limp Bizkit’s song, “Rollin'” as his theme. In hindsight, that was unfortunate, but it worked at the time.
But there was nothing like Edge hitting the ring while Rob Zombie blasted through gigantic arena speakers, ready to do unspeakable things to his opponent. We knew that Edge was never gonna stop until his body forced him to retire. And it allowed us to dream for a short time about a one-off match between Edge and Rob Zombie. It wouldn’t have lasted long, but it would have been a superbeast of a bout.