Alice Cooper Reflects on “Terrifying” WrestleMania III Experience

After a red-hot start in the 1970s with hits like "School’s Out," "No More Mister Nice Guy," and "I’m Eighteen," rock legend and Detroit native Alice Cooper hit a bit of a lull in the following decade. His life began spiraling out of control due to cocaine and alcohol abuse issues. Yet, in 1987, he found himself in front of at least one record-sized crowd — a gathering of 93,173 reportedly in attendance at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan for WrestleMania III. According to Alice, the experience was terrifying!

Alice Cooper spooks the referee with Damien the Snake at WrestleMania III while Jake Roberts applies a Full Nelson on Jimmy Hart.
Alice Cooper spooks the referee with Damien the Snake at WrestleMania III while Jake Roberts applies a Full Nelson on Jimmy Hart.

Appearing in the corner of Jake "The Snake" Roberts at the big show provided promising opportunities for Cooper. Not only did it thrust him back into the spotlight, but he was also able to learn a great deal about the professional wrestling business, having gone in without much familiarity with it beforehand.

"Everything about that was great," Cooper remembered years later on Busted Open Nation. "I’m a boxing fan. Boxing is my favorite thing to watch. Wrestling was showbiz. These guys were bigger than life; they were Megatron. This was when you had Andre the Giant. You had the Junkyard Dog, and you had all these great characters."

Recommended read: Andre the Giant Documentary – 12 Things Learned (And Facts Left Out!)

To his surprise, he witnessed a "mohawk-sporting midget" (likely Little Beaver) cursing out a much larger man (King Kong Bundy) backstage and talked about how surreal that was. He also spoke of the admiration he gained towards the wrestlers after seeing the level of choreography involved, admitting, "I respected it a hundred times more."

"This isn’t my audience; my audience isn’t as crazy as this."

Despite reaching dizzying heights in his career, stepping foot into the ring in front of almost 100,000 wrestling fans was a bit stress-inducing for the singer. "I had performed in front of big audiences, but nothing like WrestleMania III. It was terrifying," Cooper explained to WrestleNewz. "I remember telling Jake as we were riding that little ring on wheels down the aisle, ‘This isn’t my audience, my audience isn’t as crazy as this.’ It was one of the most terrifying things in the world — 90,000 people, wrestling fans, 60,000 of them were blue-haired ladies going nuts and screaming for blood."

Alice Cooper did a fine job and contributed memorably in the tenth match of the evening, which saw Jake Roberts in a losing effort against The Honky Tonk Man with "Colonel" Jimmy Hart in his corner. Cooper even handled Roberts’ snake, Damien, during the affair.

When Jake went for the DDT, Jimmy Hart got involved by pulling Roberts’ legs. Honky Tonk Man took advantage of this moment by rolling up Roberts from behind, holding onto the ropes to secure the pin.

After the match, Roberts narrowly missed hitting Honky with his own guitar, smashing it against a ring post, causing Honky to run off down the aisle, leaving a prone Hart on his own in the ring. Alice Cooper took this as the perfect opportunity to hit the ring with Roberts’ python Damien while Roberts held Jimmy Hart in a Full Nelson.

This was an important night for professional wrestling that saw Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant help draw nearly $2 million in ticket sales and another $30 million through pay-per-view and merchandising. While professional wrestling always had its fans, there was no denying its mainstream appeal after WrestleMania III. For Cooper to be involved in such an important evening wasn’t lost on him.

"That was an amazing day," he said with a hint of awe in his voice. "I still can’t get over how big and crazy that crowd was that day. And it was such an incredible time in wrestling overall. I don’t know if it could ever get bigger than WrestleMania III."

Jake Roberts on Working with Alice Cooper

Jake Roberts and Alice Cooper spend some time together along with Damien the Snake at a New York City hotel.
Jake Roberts and Alice Cooper spend some time together with Damien the Snake at a New York City hotel.

Alice Cooper wasn’t the only one happy with how the experience went. In a March 2012 interview with Busted Open Radio, Jake Roberts opened up about working with Alice Cooper. H/T to Wrestling’s Glory Days Facebook page for the following quote:

"It was a real hoot, man! I remember going to do a photoshoot at some hotel in New York City with Alice Cooper getting ready for WrestleMania III.

"I remember going up to his room with all the camera guys and stuff. We knocked on the door, and this guy lets us in. And of course, it’s not just a room – it’s a damn big suite.

"Alice comes in and what he does is like — I don’t know if you ever have seen the commercial where the two people are running up the hill towards each other in slow motion? — coming closer. All of a sudden, he’s being the fan, and here I am, ‘It’s my turn to be the fan, a$$hole!’ He’s saying, ‘Come here, man! Come in!’ I’m like, ‘No wait, man! I listened to you when I was in high school! ‘School’s Out for Summer,’ that was hot when I was 17…’

"To be there with him was just unbelievable, and of course, doing a match out there with him was unbelievable too.

"They took us up on our scissor-lifts way up in the air where it came to the curtain. From ninety-four thousand people- it took your breath away. You felt like your hair was growing, man! And as we’re getting closer to the ring, I feel his fingernails sliding down my damn side and arm, and I’m thinking, ‘What the hell is that?!’ And I look, and Cooper is sliding down. I’m like, ‘What’s wrong?’ And he’s like, ‘Too much rush…’ And I’m like, ‘What the eff are you talkin’ about?!’ [He says], ‘I’m alone!’ And if you think about it, I understand where he’s coming from. In his world, he’d come out on the stage, he’d have his band around him, had all his stuff ready to go, and he knew where he was going. Now he was in my world where he had to stand there on his own two feet with no guitar, no microphone, and he was running the show.

"We get to the ring, and the match starts, and of course The Honky Tonk Man — being the prick that he is — he’s really screwin’ with Alice. He’s like: ‘You little f****t b***h! I’m gonna make you my horny woman!’ And Cooper is starting to fire up, and Honky Tonk, once he sees him getting mad, he just keeps going: ‘C’mon, you little q***r! Why they call you Alice, you little b***h?!’ And he just keeps riding Alice, y’ know: ‘Take that jacket off, boy, I’ll whoop your a** too as soon as I get through with Jake!’

"And Cooper pulls that jacket off, man, and it’s like, ‘Oh my god! Biafra!’ His arms were about the size of my toe!"

A recent photo of Alice Cooper and Jake Roberts
A recent photo of Alice Cooper and Jake Roberts

Alice Cooper isn’t the only one from his band to get involved with the WWE. His guitarist Nita Strauss has notably played guitar at a few WWE live events, including 2018’s WrestleMania. Strauss discussed her wrestling fandom on a Talk Is Jericho podcast in April of 2018.

WATCH: Jake "The Snake" Roberts with Alice Cooper vs. Honky Tonk Man with Jimmy Hart at WrestleMania III

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JP Zarka founded Pro Wrestling Stories in 2015 and is the creative force behind the website as editor-in-chief. From 2018-19, he was the podcast host and producer for The Genius Cast with Lanny Poffo, brother of WWE legend Macho Man Randy Savage. His diverse career includes work as an elementary school teacher, assistant principal, and musician, notably as a singer-songwriter with the London-based band Sterling Avenue. Zarka has appeared on TV programs like “Autopsy: The Last Hours of” on Reelz (U.S.) and Channel 5 (U.K.) and has contributed research for programming on ITV and BBC.