As exciting as a wrestling can be in-ring, without a great theme song, a wrestler may have difficulty connecting with an audience. Hulk Hogan’s “Real American,” Triple H’s “The Game” and John Cena’s “The Time Is Now” are just three examples of themes that not only get a big reaction within a few notes, but also are played often in non-wrestling settings. Yet themes like these are not often performed live.
Here to change that is Kings Of The Ring, arguably the world’s first wrestling theme song cover band.
In advance of the group’s appearance at Revolution Bar Music Hall in New York later this month, Still Real To Us caught up with Kings Of The Ring frontman Ultimo Guapo. Mr. Guapo had much to say about what’s ahead for the quintet, which is known to change its setlist up every show.
More on the Kings Of The Ring can be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KOTRLI.
How would you describe your band to someone who hasn’t seen you folks live before?
Ultimo Guapo: We are the WORLD’S FIRST wrestling theme song cover band! Other jabronis claim to have come before us, but we were the first to call ourselves the “World’s First.” Simply put, we cover WWE’s greatest theme songs, dress up as wrestlers, do spot-on impressions, and have theatrical spots to entertain even non-wrestling fans. Imagine a cross between Gwar, Spinal Tap, and Degeneration X.
How did you and your bandmates first meet?
Ultimo Guapo: Well, dude, when I was eight years old, my father — Vince McMahon — decided to kick me out of the house. Let’s just say he caught me doing something with my Wrestling Buddies that goes beyond the scope of friendship, brother. Thankfully, my brother Shane gave me enough money to catch a Greyhound to Long Island. Ronnie Burton and I ended up being in the same fourth grade class. He was a huge WCW fan, and being that my father disowned me, I began being a huge fan too. Dad never let us watch Nitro. We actually started our own nWo on the playground during recess. Those kids we inducted ended up being the same guys in The Kings Of The Ring.
Around how many songs does your band know?
Ultimo Guapo: We have about 50-60 songs in our arsenal, brother. We usually play 20-30 songs, or parts of songs, per show.
Do you have a favorite song to perform live?
Ultimo Guapo: My favorite is Stone Cold because people throw me cans of beer on-stage, I chug them, then proceed to give willing audience members a stunner. Ronnie Burton enjoys playing “The Game” and “Four Horsemen.” Our drummer Big Van Vic enjoys Nakamura, and our bassist doesn’t even like wrestling. I just tell him I wrote all of the songs and he thinks we play originals.
Which theme is the most challenging for you to perform?
Ultimo Guapo: Well brother, the most challenging songs we play live are the ones toward the end of the set because that’s when we are most drunk. We like to drink Steveweisers with the fans and interact with the audience and give them their money’s worth.
I’d say the most challenging ones are “No Chance In Hell” since it reminds me of my father, “Glorious” because it’s hard to hit those notes when my voice is being strangled by a mask. Some of the newer CFO$ themes are difficult because they are arranged really well and are more complex compared to older themes. When you are trying to entertain on-stage, it can be hard to remember where you are at in a song.
What is the criteria for you when selecting a song to perform?
Ultimo Guapo: Some songs don’t come off well live. They may be great in the car, but might not keep the crowd engaged. So it has to be a good live song, recognizable, or just really fun to play. We will play anything as long as we think the crowd wants to hear it.
In your opinion, who has the most underrated theme?
Ultimo Guapo: Well brother, that is both a great question and an easy one: The Hollywood Blondes and Hakushi.
Are you more of a Jim Johnston guy? Or more into CFO$?
Ultimo Guapo: The Kings Of The Ring exist because both JJ and CFO$ create fantastic music. They both offer something unique. Johnston’s tunes tend to be more simply-arranged, have great riffs, and have a great raw quality to them. Jimmy Hart also wrote some great tunes for WWF and WCW. I met him years ago and he loved the idea of our band. CFO$ create such rich songs. The production is top-notch. They also present songs with so many dimensions and layers that really allowed themes to go to the next level.
What’s coming up for your band in the coming months?
Ultimo Guapo: The Kings Of The Ring have got a HUGE show on May 27th at Revolution in Amityville, Long Island. We are treating this show like our WrestleMania. We want to give our fans something new and give them their money’s worth. We are going to play a bunch of new songs, have new stage props, theatrical spots, and crazy shit that I can’t even go into.
After that we are trying to play bigger and bigger shows. New York City, Jersey, Philly…We want to invade these cities and take this monster everywhere.
Has anyone with the WWE or in the wrestling world reached out to your band?
Ultimo Guapo: Sadly, dude, my father still won’t acknowledge me as a member of his bloodline. I’m hoping one of these days I get a late-night phone call welcoming me back, but I wont hold my breath. Shane sends me a birthday card every year. Stephanie is busy with Raw. We have had other wrestlers reach out to us, but we are keeping it a secret as they might do something with us down the road and we want to keep it a surprise for the fans.
Wrestling themes aside, to you, is wrestling still good nowadays? Are there any wrestlers or storylines that have you excited?
Ultimo Guapo: Of course brother! Wrestling is always good…even bad wrestling! Myself, Ultimo Guapo, I keep up with WWE, Lucha Underground, ROH, and Impact. Big Van Vic, our drummer is big into the indies and Japanese stuff. Our guitarist Ronnie Burton who was trained by Seth Rollins at Black and Brave Wrestling Academy, wrestles all over the U.S. Personally, I have been enjoying the work of the Broken Hardys and Chris Jericho the most this year.
Any wrestling podcasts that you are a fan of?
Ultimo Guapo: Well dude, I listen to Austin, Colt Cabana, Jericho, but have been meaning to dig into non-wrestler’s podcasts. The Kings Of The Ring will actually be having an interactive podcast broadcast live from our show on May 27th called Squash Match. I regularly call in drunk, do wrestling impressions, make cheap plugs, and insult everyone.
When not busy with the band, how do you like to spend your free time?
Ultimo Guapo: Ronnie Burton continues his world tour wrestling in New York, Iowa, Jersey, etc., and being a genetic freak. The rest of us, Big Van Vic, Hurricanrana Rodriguez, and myself Ultimo Guapo are busy eating Slim Jims, drinking Steveweisers, and loading spaceships with rocket fuel!
Finally, any last words for the kids?
Ultimo Guapo: Yeah, two of em: SUCK IT!