Tonight one of New York’s favorite new hometown heroes, Action Bronson, plays Brooklyn Bowl. While there’s been much discussed in regard to his frequent references to food, be it invoking particular dishes as a metaphor, a by-product of his vivid storytelling or employed to advance a narrative, not many have tried to dissect his other favorite subject: professional wrestling. This could be due to wrestling (or, as the WWE would rather you call it, “sports-entertainment”) usually holding a self-contained audience in pop culture and, as a result, its references in popular music often go over the heads of most listeners. For instance, how many of your friends can tell you what “Watching Grunge legdrop New Jack through a press table” in Weezer’s “El Scorcho” actually means?
That in mind, to help listeners understand and appreciate certain Action Bronson lines they otherwise may not have caught, here’s our five favorite Action Bronson wrestling references explained.
“Barry Horowitz” 2011
“It’s Barry Horowitz rap/ I pat myself on the back”
One of the first Action Bronson songs to make significant waves was named after one of wrestling’s most notorious losers, Barry Horowitz. For two decades, it was Horowitz’s job as an “enhancement talent” to make new talent look good by losing to them in a fantastic fashion. By the mid-90s, Horowitz had developed a cult following among wrestling fans for his trademark mannerism of patting himself on the back. With his constant losses eventually painting Horowitz as a beloved underdog, Bronson recorded “Barry Horowitz,” a song not-so-much a biography as it is Bronson channeling his self-congratulatory aspect, effectively spitting verses where he “pats himself on the back.”
“Amuse Bouche” 2011
“I been fly since the Big Boss Man feud with the Mountie”
Off of his free EP The Program, Bronson’s “Amuse Bouche” opens with a reference familiar to longtime wrestling fans. Bronson claims he’s been fly since the Big Boss Man-Mountie feud, effectively pinpointing that Bronson first became “fly” in the summer of 1991 when the Boss Man (a wrestling corrections officer) faced evil Canadian nemesis The Mountie (a mountie) in a match where the loser had to spend a night in a New York prison. A memorable bout that took place two decades before the song’s release, Bronson name-drops it to both establish how long he’s been “fly” as well as touch upon a treasured memory many fans hold dear.
Smoke DZA featuring Action Bronson – “Turnbuckle Music”2012
“Yo, once again it’s the quintessential stud muffin”
“You pick him up/ I drop em”
“Buh Buh Buh Buh!”
Rapper Smoke DZA has mentioned how he and frequent-collaborator Bronson have bonded over a shared love of late-90s renegade independent wrestling promotion Extreme Championship Wrestling, who used to run shows at the Elk’s Lodge in Queens, prompting DZA to exclaim “Yo we’re like the Dudley Boys, B.” Before reaching worldwide popularity with the WWE, The Dudleyz were ECW’s most feared team. “Turnbuckle Music” is effectively one Dudleyz reference after another, with Bronson’s opening line invoking the team’s foul-mouthed manager Joel “the Quintessential Stud Muffin” Gertner, his second verse channeling member Buh-Buh Ray Dudley’s trademark stuttering, and a tag-teaming hook describing the group’s devastating double-team finisher the Dudley Death Drop.
“Tan Leather” 2012
“Suede loincloth never fall off/ Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff / Leather-jacket knee-length”
A flashy and feared frequent foe of Hulk Hogan, Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff was a marquee meanie in the 80s, co-headlining the very first Wrestlemania at Madison Square Garden with Roddy Piper as they faced the fan-favorites Hulk Hogan and Mr. T. in the main event. As his career went on, the self-obsessed Orndorff would wear progressively gaudier outfits on his way to the ring, making it only a matter of time before he became the subject of a fashion-centric rap punchline. You may also recognize Orndorff’s name from his work with Psychic Companion Gary Spivey in the mid-90s, or rapper Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire mentioning his use of the wrestler’s trademark move in the bedroom as he claimed he would “piledrive the pussy like Paul Orndorff.”
“Ron Simmons” 2012
Probably the most high profile wrestling-related moment on a Bronson release to date has been a cameo from WWE Hall of Famer Ron Simmons. Along with being an All-American defensive tackle for Florida State University, Simmons is recognized as wrestling’s first African-American world champion. During wrestling’s peak moment of popularity, Simmons was known as “Farooq,” one-half of beer-drinking hired guns the A.P.A., where he honed his catchphrase of witnessing something shocking/awkward/shockingly awkward and yelling as exasperated “Damn!” Not only does he drop by to introduce his titular track, but producer Party Supplies’ “Ron Simmons” beat is built around an actual sample of the wrestler’s voice.