Musically, the WWE is more or less synonymous with butt-rock and nu-metal, but that just might be changing. Pop wunderkinds Billie Eilish and Poppy have collaborated with the sports entertainment juggernaut of late, and now the franchise’s stars are out here crooning Oscar-winning pop-rock ballads.
At a recent WWE Live event, guitar-toting drifter Elias strummed a few instantly recognizable chords while bantering with his on-again, off-again rival, the great Finn Bálor. What one might assume is a toss-off, however, turns out to be decidedly not, as Elias launches into the first verse of “Shallow,” the massively huge single from last year’s A Star Is Born. If Elias is Bradley Cooper, though, that means Bálor, a 190-pound Irishman with abs of steel, must take step in for Lady Gaga. A bit of a mismatch, that—especially when you hear his bellowing sing-song—but, after some feigned reticence, Bálor enthusiastically bares his soul (and abs) with a few passionate bars.
Elias, ever the heel, then robs us of the octave-climbing lead-in to the chorus, dropping his guitar and taking a cheap shot at his foe. A travesty, to be sure, but the exchange remains the WWE’s best use of pop culture since those Twin Peaks parodies they were running back in 2017.
Bring back the Fashion Files, you cowards.