The worlds of rock and wrestling have always been close. But it’s still perhaps a surprise to see WWE NXT – home to the next generation of WWE superstars – has a presence at this year’s Download Festival. But this year revellers can mosh to Deftones after cheering on former NXT women’s champion Bayley, or take in BABYMETAL before watching Samoa Joe and Finn Balor take each other on inside the squared circle.
We sat down with NXT trainer, Liverpudlian and metalhead Robbie Brookside to find out what fans can expect at Download and find out what makes him tick musically. Here's a handy playlist, and interview with the wrestling veteran...
Who are you looking forward to seeing most at Download?
"There’s a band called Raging Speedhorn. They’re from Corby of all places. I’ve been to see them once and they definitely stood out. Being a punk myself, NOFX is always a good live show, Skindred, Municipal Waste and Napalm Death – who are a British institution. I kidnapped Chris Jericho one night in Hamburg and went to see Pennywise. That was in about 1993 so it’ll be interesting to see how they sound now.
"Out of the main bands, I’ve never seen Rammstein. I used to wrestle at Wacken Festival in Germany, but I missed them in 2013. I’ve heard the live show is very good. I’m looking forward to seeing Black Sabbath. There’s also Electric Wizzard – I’m a big fan of them. I’ve seen Ghost a couple of times – they’re really elusive and strange, but a hell of a band."
"This is, of course, if I get a chance to see them. First and foremost I’m going with NXT and that’s my priority. Anything I can get to afterwards would be great. I’ve never been to Download. I actually live in Leicester and it’s only 20 minutes away. It’s a dream come true going back with NXT. I just hope it doesn’t rain!"
What’s your favourite music genre and bands?
"I got into punk in the iconic year of 1978. In the space of two months I went to my first wrestling show and I went to see The Clash at a matinee show at Eric’s in Liverpool. Both occasions I was absolutely scared out of my wits. I’d never been to a punk show. There were all these crazy, outgoing people and The Clash turned up in an ice cream van. It was rebellious; it wasn't the disco music that was around at the time. There was a hardcore group of bands that came out of the punk scene who said “we’re not gonna subscribe to your fashions and your ways – we’re gonna do what we wanna do”.
"I’d never been into metal at all, but then I went to wrestle down in London and a mate of mine, who was in a band there, said there was a band called Metallica playing at the Apollo in Hammersmith. We went there and stood at the back and it was another one of those mind-blowing moments. Within a year I was listening to Slayer, Metallica, Exodus and I was getting all sorts of demo tapes. I was bit for life after that."
"I’m terrible – I’m always online buying records that I’m never going to play, but I love buying vinyl. It’s like buying pieces of art, there’s a wonderful feel to it. When I was in school, I used to save my dinner money up – I used to get a pound a day – and at the end of the week I’d shoot into town and buy loads of Crass, Conflict and anarcho-punk records. Pete Burns used to work in the record shop, I remember walking in one day in my school uniform and saying “Have you got I Hate People by the Anti-Nowhere League?” and they all just started laughing at me!"
What can we expect from the NXT shows?
"Everyone connected with NXT is proud to represent it. I can’t find superlatives to describe Triple H and the work he’s done to build this brand and this performance centre. Whoever goes to the ring at Download will go with everything they've got."
What do the NXT superstars listen to in the locker room to get pumped up?
"If you can’t get pumped up to perform in front of a bunch of metalheads then you should get a different job! If you don't get butterflies before a match then you’re in the wrong business. I can guarantee that there’s appetite and desire in the roster we’re bringing over. We’re coming to Download and we’re gonna rage it."
Download takes place between 10 and 12 June at Donington Park in Derbyshire, and you can get tickets and more information here.