As an unapologetic wrestling fan for nearly two decades, I can confidently say that the easiest way to evoke a rapturous reaction out of the crowd is to play a wrestler’s theme song. Once hit, the music should trigger instant familiarity with the wrestler leading to the audience’s boos or hisses, depending on the circumstance.
By being the biggest and most relevant brand of wrestling in the world, the WWE has a very unique way of going about producing this music for their superstars. Since 1985, most of the songs used by the WWE would be made in-house by producer Jim Johnston. It’s a process that’s been wildly successful for the WWE, allowing them to easily package their already owned tracks together and release them as an album. These compilations have sold 6 million copies worldwide and have made numerous appearances on the Billboard top 200 chart.
While the music has been received positively by fans over the years, the way in which they’re presented to the listener is completely different, thus creating a specific criteria for making a quality entrance song. A wrestler’s entrance usually only lasts around 30 seconds, giving the song a fraction of the sample size one would usually get when it comes to judging a song.
There’s a dire need to immediately set a tone and for the song to be recognized from the moment it starts because of these restrictions. Glass shattering was always the first thing heard when Steve Austin came to the ring. For Mick Foley, it was the sound of a car crash. The Rock emphatically shouts, “IF YOU SMELL.. WHAT THE ROCK.. IS COOKING,” as an intro on his. Subtlety is not a preferred trait to have in this racket.
Somewhere amidst the success of this cottage industry, however, the songs became very homogenous. At the peak of the WWE’s popularity, it was no secret that the most used genre tended to lean to the Hard-Rock or Metal side of things. Two of the most beloved entrance songs of all time are Chris Jericho’s ‘Break The Walls Down’ and D-Generation X’s ‘Break It Down,’ both of which are blatant Rage Against The Machine copycats, along with my first two suggestions to anyone looking for demolition anthems. But a legitimate problem arose when the WWE committed too heavily to that style and left very little variety.
A great deal of the biggest names from 2002 onward were unfortunately saddled with painfully mediocre pseudo-metal tracks that did little to stand out against previous hits. Perennial champions like Randy Orton and Batista each have vocalists with that stereotypical gruff sounding Hard-Rock guy voice that needs to be done away with already. And Edge used to have such a fun House thing going with his initial ditty before it got bastardized into some thrash trash.
What used to be a crucial aspect to wrestling had quickly become something bogged down and uneventful. Recently, however, I’ve noticed the tide change considerably amongst the new batch of superstars. It’s a breath of fresh air, and it’s due in large part to John Alicastro and Mike Lauri, better known as the production team CFO$, taking over Johnston’s role as producer.
Personally, the first time I noticed this was with Bray Wyatt. Fittingly enough, neither Johnston, or CFO$ had anything to do with the making of this song. Give all the credit to Mark Crozer and the Rels. Their whispery vocals, paired with lethargic guitar strumming provided a never before heard atmosphere to the WWE music scene. Soon after, Sami Zayn would début and provide the world with the most silly and upbeat song not made by Andrew WK.
Other commendable newbies such as Neville and Sasha Banks gave me some hope, but it wasn’t until AJ Styles’s debut at Royal Rumble was I completely sold on the new day rising. “Phenomenal” is a pretty good Rap song! I can not stress how rare that is for the WWE. Especially for it to be an actual rapper on the track and not the wrestler himself trying to launch a second career. That’s even rarer. It even reached the iTunes top 100, which is insane for a standalone WWE single!
The right song can do wonders for buoying a wrestler’s persona by perfectly encapsulating what his or her character is supposed to be. By injecting a fresh perspective and relevant genres into the mix, CFO$ has been able to create that for a great deal of the newest superstars. It’s helped bring one of the more fun wrinkles of wrestling back into the forefront.