Wrestling and music go together like strawberries and cream, fries and mayonnaise or bullets and guns, depending on your perspective and country of origin. Despite this fact, there are few genuinely great wrestling songs and far more that fall into the kitsch/fond memory/objectively awful category. Fortunately, The Mountain Goats have come to save the day.
The Mountain Goats is essentially John Darnielle, a Californian singer/songwriter who has been releasing music under the name since 1991. Independent to a fault, The Mountain Goats released a number of boom-box lo-fi recordings throughout the Nineties, often on cassette with runs of only a few hundred copies. Rather fond of a concept album, early album titles included Yam, the King of Crops and The Hound Chronicles.
New album Beat The Champ returns to the concept album well, diving into the territory days of professional wrestling before the rise of Vince McMahon and the WWE, let alone competitors like TNA, ROH or Lucha Underground.
For those with some knowledge of these ‘classic’ days of wrestling, there is an enormous amount of depth and love for the era on Beat the Champ. Chavo Gurerro is about the Hispanic superstar father of current Lucha Underground star Chavo Jr, while Foreign Object is tribute to hardcore wrestlers like Abdullah the Butcher. Stabbed to Death Outside San Juan is a remarkably moving account of the death of Bruiser Brody, sung in the first person, while Werewolf Gimmick tells the tale of a veteran who likes to go to local shows and beat the crap out of the local jobbers.
Choked Out is an almost punk tribute to submission wrestlers, while the Ballad of Bull Ramos tells the sad story of indie wrestlers forced to keep working as their bodies break down from years of physical (and often chemical) abuse.
There are lots of stories about death on Beat the Champ, which seems appropriate considering the staggering number of pro wrestlers who die young. Even if you’re not a fan of the territory days, Beat the Champ is an interesting, listenable album with a couple of standout tracks.
Standout tracks: Werewolf Gimmick, Choked Out, Animal Mask
Sample lyric: ‘I personally will stab you in the eye with a foreign object.’ (Foreign Object)
Verdict: 7/10 if you’re not a wrestling fan, 9/10 if you are
Tags: JT on NXT, Music, The Mountain Goats, wrestling