The Best Way to Watch WWE is Through Fan-Made Music Videos

Lessons learned from the purest WWE experience out there

Even the best WWE storylines, the ones that mostly make sense and pay off in the end, usually include a lot of filler and at least one creative misstep. Good or bad, angles are often presented in their strongest, easiest to understand form in their pre-match or pre-PPV video package, with the best hype videos like Rock vs. Austin “My Way,” The Miz “Hate Me Now,” and Daniel Bryan “Monster” revered among WWE fans. So while “WWE AMV” is a combination of six letters that a lot of people have never read before, it describes an incredibly valid form of wrestling fan art, one that reveals how some of WWE’s most dedicated fans feel about their favorite wrestlers in a format WWE basically already uses.

AMV stands for “anime music video,” which is defined by Wikipedia as “typically a fan-made music video consisting of clips from one or more Japanese animated shows or movies set to an audio track, often songs or promotional trailer audio.” The version of the “Prove me wrong” meme that posits “WWE is just redneck anime” is one that is actually impossible to disprove, which is really all the evidence I need to call fan-made WWE music videos AMVs for this whole article. (Plus, some of the video makers call them that.)

There are two main genres of WWE AMV: career highlights and original stories. The first type is pretty self-explanatory, while the second is less obvious, but more revelatory. Career highlight videos show how a certain type of hardcore WWE fan feels about what their favorite wrestlers actually do. Original story videos show what they feel their favorites could do. While these stories are restricted by editing skill and whatever actual footage can be used to create them, they’re unhindered by the input of WWE stockholders, the USA Network, and Vince McMahon.

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From one perspective, AMVs are the purest and most positive way to experience WWE– through the eyes of people who care so much about it that they’re driven to make very time-consuming art about it. I watched hours of these things for this article, and I feel like it taught me a lot about what WWE really means to those with the least ironic takes on its brand of sports entertainment. My findings are below, and they include a lot of emotionally-fraught romance angles and Christian rock.

WWE Superstars need to be woken up inside

Over a decade after “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence and years after it had stopped being used unironically elsewhere, WWE AMV creators used it to show another side of their favorite wrestlers. I never got the sense that 2013 Sheamus was dealing with any dramatic inner angst, especially when he met Beaker from the Muppets, but Cenagirl202x did and I respect her for that. I can say the same about The Shield at the height of their powers and family friendly face of the company John Cena, but some video editors apparently saw something I didn’t and decided to bring it life.

The greatest use of the song is in AppleSeedPie’s take on the John Cena/Eve Torres/Zack Ryder romance angle, a key moment in the burial of then internet darling Long Island Iced Z. The combination of Evanescence with the WWE comedy camera pan is inspired. I was confused about which wrestler in this video actually needed to be woken up inside until I realized it was all of them, afforded by the editor a type of realistic emotional depth rarely seen on WWE TV.

Christian rock band Skillet is the unofficial bard of some of WWE’s biggest names

Other common music choices in the WWE AMV world come from the catalogue of Christian hard rock band Skillet. Skillet’s “Legendary” became the theme song for Raw earlier this year, but it’s Big Rock Anthems have a much more extensive history as unofficial soundtracks for the careers of WWE’s biggest heroes.

Roman Reigns fans especially appear to feel that certain Skillet songs are the perfect fit for dramatic montages of The Big Dog. For example, if you want to see Reigns in action set to Skillet’s most-played song on Spotify, “Monster,” you have options from 2014, 2015, 2018, and two from 2019.

If you think “Awake and Alive” is a better fit, you have two options from 2014 and these 
two from 2017. For “Hero,” there are also two from 2014, as well as one from 2015. There are also at least two different Reigns tributes backed by Skillet’s “Rise,”  two with “Feel Invincible,” and two with “The Resistance,” plus one apiece for “Back from the Dead” and “Not Gonna Die.” 

Fans of noted atheist Seth Rollins have also decided the sound of Skillet really works for their dude – even before the band released a song called “Burn It Down.” (Of course, there is also a Seth Rollins tribute music video set to Skillet’s “Burn It Down.”) My favorite is probably the angsty career overview above that includes Ring of Honor clips, a strategic shift from black and white to color, and “Comatose,” but there are many, many others.

Appropriately, Rollins and Reigns AMVs favor different Skillet songs, but there is some crossover. Of course (of course, if you’ve listened to the lyrics!), Rollins also has some “Monster” tributes, like this one from 2016one from 2018, and another from 2019. (Skillet released “Monster” all the way back in 2009, by the way.) “Not Gonna Die” backs four Seth Rollins videos: two from 2017, one each from 2018 and 2019. Then there’s two more with “Comatose” from 2013 and 2016, two with “Feel Invincible,”  two with “Awake and Alive,” plus one with “I Want To Live,” with “Whispers in the Dark,” one with “Hero,” and one with the Monday Night Raw theme song itself, “Legendary.”

At this point, it’s clear that if you’re not familiar with the discography of Skillet, you should question whether you’re really a wrestling fan. If we take non-canon video packages into account, they have arguably a deeper connection to WWE than Limp Bizkit, or maybe even Kid Rock.

The breakup of LayCool was as sad as if one or both of these women had died

There isn’t one song or band that defines the 2009-2011 mean girl tag team LayCool (Michelle McCool and Layla), but for some reason, so many tribute videos for this duo that was basically The Iiconics in an era when WWE openly hated women at all times and valued women’s wrestling about 1% are set to incredibly sad music. I need to reach out to the makers of the videos like this one  and especially this one set to “Deep End” by Birdy and make sure they know that both McCool and Layla are still alive. If you haven’t seen LayCool before, AMVs are not a good way to understand the tone of their act (unlike all Jeff Hardy AMVs, which might the actual best way to get what he was about and why people connected with him so much), but they do show that what seemed like a real, sincere friendship shone through everything they did.

WWE really left money on the table by not running an AJ Lee/Bray Wyatt angle

Over in the shipping genre of WWE AMVs, videos in which fans paired two characters together romantically who may or may not have any canon love connection, is a couple fans came up with that WWE should honestly be ashamed they didn’t write themselves: AJ Lee and Bray Wyatt.
Lee and Wyatt had about two years of crossover on the WWE main roster and were both outsider characters. AJ was crazy in a femme fatale way; Bray in a swamp cult leader way. Both were beloved by fans looking for something Different in WWE as well as the type of people would be into Joker/Harley and/or Jack/Sally. The alternate universe depicted in the video above, “aj/bray {I’m gonna love ya until you hate me},” in which AJ starts using her Black Widow ways to help the Wyatt Family, isn’t too different from our real kayfabe to be implausible. A lot of people would have honestly eaten this storyline up. WWE really dropped the ball here and should have to make a committee of AMV creators write one actual Raw storyline as penance.

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All good wrestling rivalries are a few edits away from romance

The world of WWE shipping AMVs highlights not just which characters could be in romance angles, but that every halfway decent wrestling feud basically already is one. Like, “Charlynch MV- Dynasty” is just a recap of a quality canon feud with a romantic song under it and a ship name tacked onto it to make it one of the most complex WLW relationships in the history of American television. This Becky/Charlotte video set to “Wicked Game” does the same thing, with just a little more editing to make it gay. The Sasha/Charlotte feud also requires little to no editorializing to become an angsty romance and neither does Bayley/Sasha , or Paige/AJ Lee– which, to be fair, was a dynamic those two wrestlers intentionally played into. I’d include some all-male pairings in here too, but no fan-made music video can top what WWE already did with Shawn/Hunter in the hype video for HBK vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania 26, soundtracked by a Placebo cover of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” (a very commonly used song in actual AMVs).

It is impossible to make Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch a compelling on-screen couple

While Becky Lynch’s most intimate on-screen relationships in WWE have been with the other NXT Horsewomen, her only explicitly romantic one has been with her real-life partner Seth Rollins. Becky and Seth were widely mocked or felt sorry for because they had no on-screen chemistry, but since they both have many very devoted fans, a slew of Brollins AMVs have been created anyway.

If WWE is thinking of pairing up Lynch and Rollins on TV again, these AMVs should end those thoughts forever. Even the creative minds of a deeply dedicated part of the fandom cannot make their romance compelling (in the fictional world– I obviously don’t know anything about their real relationship). Almost every single Brollins music video is more boring than when Raw opens with five minutes of someone delivering a monologue that makes them sound like a peeved driver’s ed instructor.

The only one I could find that isn’t incredibly bland is this one set to “Safari” by Serena. The clips all fit the parts of the song about them seeing fire in each other and falling in love… then the parts about dancing are illustrated with clips of Becky and Seth doing the least sexually charged dances you’ve ever seen. Just kidding about WWE never pairing them up again, actually. They should definitely do it if there’s a dance segment involved.

Brock Lesnar/Nikki Bella is the greatest WWE love story never told

While Brollins videos pay boring tribute to a real kayfabe and shoot couple, there is a shocking amount of very dramatic videos shipping two wrestlers who have possibly never appeared on screen together— Brock Lesnar and Nikki Bella. Considering that these videos began to be made between 2015-2016, the pair’s potential as a hypothetical power couple makes a lot of sense. Each was the most dominant heel force in their respective division: the Beast Incarnate fresh out of UFC and the Longest Reigning Divas Champion.

The above video set to Maroon 5’s “Animals” (which after extensive research, I consider to be the definitive Nikki/Brock AMV masterwork) shows what I think is the easiest version of this ship dynamic to understand. Paul Heyman is like, “This is not a man. It’s a Beast. It’s a conqueror,” and Nikki is very into it. She later does her push-up taunt at Brock and he’s very into it. For one based purely on wrestling strength and animal magnetism, Nikki Bella/Brock Lesnar seems like a pretty functional relationship.

Here is just a selection of the surprising number of music videos on YouTube about Brock Lesnar: Romance Protagonist

    1. “The Heart Wants What It Wants” by sinem— Brock Lesnar is dating AJ Lee but he cheats on her with Nikki Bella. AJ rebounds with CM Punk and this is all an alternate background story for Punk vs. Lesnar at SummerSlam 2013.
    2. “Down” by caren myzen– Brock Lesnar and Nikki Bella are anti-authority heroes persecuted by the McMahons, something WWE crowds would completely reject, but that is presented here with complete sincerity
    3. “Haunting” by Ally Rollins— Nikki calls Brock an embarrassment ,and he hits her and goes to jail for domestic violence. Nikki starts dating Cena but then Brock gets out of jail and wants her back. He appears to actually get her back by beating John Cena in a wrestling match? This video is concerning???
    4. “coz you’re mine” by robyn rollins– Nikki is dating John Cena but then gets with Brock and John rebounds with Carmella, featuring a kiss edit and set to an angsty cover of Johnny Cash’s “Walk The Line.”

My attempt to understand this ship hits a wall when I’m asked to imagine Brock Lesnar having the sexy kind of animal magnetism with someone rather than the murder kind. He’s been a version of his nigh-unbeatable bully heel character for the vast majority of his time in WWE, something that started when I was a child. This makes it very difficult to see him as a sexual being, even though I know he has kids and a smokin’ hot wife in real life. He may have the face of the blonde kid from The Family Circus, but some people see Lesnar as more of a legitimate hunk than a hunk of boiled ham squeezed into a man-shaped mold. That list of people might actually include Nikki Bella in real life because there is what sounds like real audio of her saying “Brock Lesnar is just so manly and hot,” as I learned from a video where she leaves Randy Orton for him.

Maybe there’s something to all of this. People are always complaining that Brock’s booking is stale, so maybe WWE should freshen it up with a romance angle. There’s a lot worse they could do.