Staff Top 10
Top Ten Pro-Wrestling Theme Tunes




restling is an art form. I don’t worry about those who don’t get it, I worry about satisfying those who do.”

The wise words there of the high cholesterol-levelled, roly-poly cheque bouncer and former ECW head honcho Paul Heyman there. And that’s exactly the same outlook I’m taking with this top-ten list. I’m not worried about those who don’t get it. Those people aren’t here now, they saw that this was an article about pro-wrestling, skipped it over, and went to read the Readymade review instead. Understandable. I see we’re they’re coming from. Pro-wrestling is fake, dumb, violently homoerotic, and a hobby you’re meant to have grown out of by the time you start dating. So, kind of like all good pop music then.

Ever since those halcyon days of Rock N Roll Wrestling, those involved inside the predetermined fight-game just can’t seem to be able to get enough of the reflected glamour of the music industry. Cyndi Lauper was always on hand in the 1980s, Billy Corgan and Fred Durst turned up in Extreme Championship Wrestling to prove that rock music in the late 90s sucked in two entirely different ways, mic-wielding dead midget Joe C made a brief WWF appearance during his living days, and most notoriously, The Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Tim Kingsbury first met when they were studying together at the infamous “Funkin’ Dojo” wrestlers training camp.

And how do those shadowy figures behind the scenes of the wrestling industry pay tribute to those even more shadowy figures behind the scenes of the music industry? Why, with theme tunes, of course. Over the brief month I spent researching this article, I listened to something like 1,000 theme tunes, from my video collection, CD anthologies of wrestling music I’d for some reason purchased, and through your friendly neighbourhood P2P network. Of these tunes, roughly 950 consisted of pub band renditions of two-chord heavy metal tracks, a kind of music that was popular for roughly six seconds in 1993, and has been taken as the template for the majority of wrestling themes ever since. You know the sound of music I’m talking about, kinda like Pantera waking up. Another 40 were “Runaway Train” levels of unlistenable.

In the unlistenable camp, special thanks must go out to the WWE (WWF as it was then) of the mid 1990s, who found the time to torture their rapidly decreasing attendance figures with such music aberrations as the theme tunes for Abe “Knuckleball” Schwartz (“Take Me Out To The Ball Game” as played on Satan’s own Casio keyboard), Bastion Booger (literally, a load of fart noises), and Isaac D Yankem (there’s a reason why musicians have been reluctant to base their music around a sample of a dentist’s drill up until now, and it has nothing to do with clearance issues).

However, some of these tracks shone through the darkness. Some tracks psyched me up, made me want to watch a match, made me want to see someone get their ass whupped, and not just the guy who wrote the song. Some of these songs are even good pieces of music outside of the context of a wrestling match! And some wise men just decided to use songs that had already been recorded by one of those popular beat combos the kids like nowadays. Wise men. So, yes, here Stylus pays tribute to the least worst wrestling themes, intro, and tracks of all time. There is a thirty-minute time limit.

10. The Fabulous Freebirds Theme
Lynyrd Skynyrd - “Free Bird”
Fuck Wrestlemania I, because this is “Where It All Began.” Arguably (and boy do people on wrestling message boards like to argue. Why can’t they get along like guys on music discussion boards?) it wasn’t the first wrestling entrance theme tune, but then again I take the Sugarhill Gang/Alexander Graham Bell approach to ingenuity: it’s not being the first person to do something that counts, it’s being the first to do something whilst making money out of it. Anyway, if you expect me to use the short confines of one entry in a top ten list to drop some science on the topic of “Free Bird” you’re sadly mistaken. When Stylus finally get around to hosting “Skynyrd Week”, then maybe I’ll knock out a 150,000 word minimum “Seconds” on it. But, for now, I find it frankly hysterical that a song that lasts for 17 hours and only manages to fit any actual adrenaline into the last three seconds of it started the craze for audio-assisted bloodlust in sports entertainment. The Freebirds were true revolutionaries: they set the template in wrestling for both the successful heel stable, and that “long blonde hair with dark beard” look. And they did all of this to a song that urges people to wave their lighters around in the air, rather than use them to set fire to any passing Commies. Oh the irony.

Suitability for a Big and Rich cover version: 6/10.
Why not trying shouting out a request for it if you see them live in concert?

09. The Goon Theme
You want high concept? I’ll give you high concept. The Goon’s theme tune was pro-wrestling’s very own take on Alvin Lucier’s BA in Music Production favourite “I Am Sitting In A Room”. However, instead of allowing us to question what is music through the disjointed and altered narrative of a man talking about sitting his fat ass down, The Goon’s theme tune did it by playing the same 11 second burst of hockey organ (The Goon was supposed to be an evil hockey player who’d been banned from the NHL. No, seriously, he was), followed by the sound of a puck being hit into a wall. Then this 11-second burst was repeated. And repeated. And repeated. With no variation in noise, pitch, tone, anything. And this was used to gee people up to the prospect of forthcoming bloody violence. That, my friend, is high concept.

Suitability for a Big and Rich cover version: 0/10.
Big and Rich don’t look like they fuck with ice.

08. The Great Muta (WCW Theme)
“So… yeah. We’ve got this Great Muta guy. Paints his face, spits mist, like all Japanese people do. Did I mention he’s Japanese? Well, he is. Anyway, apparently he’s one of the all time greats of Japanese wrestling, and he revolutionized the industry in the late 1980s with his ring style. And now he needs a new theme tune. Something threatening, yet full of that Oriental mysticism that the kidz like nowadays. Anyone got any ideas?”

“Hmmm… well… I do have Hall and Oates’ cellular phone number. Why don’t I ring them and ask them what kind of music they’d make if they were the lounge band at a Sushi restaurant?”

“You sir, are a genius”.

Suitability for a Big and Rich cover version: 4/10.
Difficult one to carry off, not least because of the lack of vocals, and the fact that it’s, you know, meant to be Japanese. Could be used as a backing track on a series of “Big and Rich go round the world” style skits on their next album, however.

07. Fit Finlay Theme (WCW)
Starts off like “When Doves Cry”, before sliding into more familiar territory for wrestling theme music, kinda like what all of those metal guitarists that have since overdosed sound like. Fit Finlay was always a wrestler that exemplified “non-nonsense,” and this is here simply because it suitably sums up what default wrestling entrance music sounds like when you do it right. What local thrash-lite bands sound like before some idiot ruins it all by shouting over the top of it.

Suitability for a Big and Rich cover version: 3/10.
That metal influence is definitely on “Horse of a Different Colour”, I just don’t think it’s as humourless as this.

06. Honky Tonk Man Theme
You could ask why a wrestler who’s gimmick is that he’s an evil Elvis impersonator has his ring name as a tribute to a Rolling Stones song (maybe should have been called Ted E. Behr. Or not). You could ask why this song sounds more like Carl Perkins than Elvis anyway. You could ask why this muppet and current embittered interweb journo is still the longest serving Intercontinental of all time. Or, alternatively, you could just post the entire lyric sheet in lieu of any actual discussion.

I got long sideburns
And my hair slicked back
I’m coming to your town in my pink cadillac
I'm just a Honky Tonk Man (he's a Honky Tonk Man)
I'm just a Honky Tonk Man (he's a Honky Tonk Man)
I'm just a Honky Tonk Man
I'm cool, I'm cocky, I'm bad

I pick a mean guitar
I wear blue suede shoes
You're gotta hear me sing the snakeskin blues
I'm just a Honky Tonk Man (he's a Honky Tonk Man)
I'm just a Honky Tonk Man (he's a Honky Tonk Man)
I'm just a Honky Tonk Man

I'm cool, I'm cocky, I'm bad

Roll over Elvis, let the Honky Tonk Man show you how to rock n' roll
Elvis Who? He wouldn't get a tune if it had handles on it.

Ooooooh, have mercy, baby

Let the Honky Tonk Man pick that guitar

It's Honky Tonk Mania runnin' wild

I got Peggy Sue behind me
The colonel's in the back
I’m coming to your town in my pink cadillac
I'm just a Honky Tonk Man (he's a Honky Tonk Man)
I'm just a Honky Tonk Man (he's a Honky Tonk Man)
I'm just a Honky Tonk Man
I'm cool, I'm cocky, I'm bad

I'm just a Honky Tonk Man (he's a Honky Tonk Man)
I'm just a Honky Tonk Man (he's a Honky Tonk Man)
I'm just a Honky Tonk Man (he's a Honky Tonk Man)
I'm just a Honky Tonk Man (he's a Honky Tonk Man)
I'm just a Honky Tonk Man
I'm cool, I'm cocky, I'm bad

I'm just a Honky Tonk Man
I'm cool, I'm cocky, I'm b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-bad


I suppose I should have put a spoiler warning at the start of that, as I’ve just ruined his entire career for you.

Suitability for a Big and Rich cover version: 1/10.
Elvis seems a very unlikely reference point for our favourite hetero-countrists.

05. D’Lo Brown Theme
“The Real Deal”
That kind of rap music that only features in the world of wrestling. Basically, imagine if Craig Mack had swallowed is tongue. Then combine with a wrestler who is a big fan of rolling his head around in some vague attempt at moving to the beat of the intro. And then add a chest-protector. Beauty in motion.

Suitability for a Big and Rich cover version: 0/10.
Of course, D’Lo Brown later went on to try and incur audience wrath as an evil Arab or Indian or at least something that involved wrapping cloth around his head. That didn’t work.

04. Waylon Mercy Theme
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds cover Smashmouth’s irrito-classic “Walking On The Sun”! Except not! Actually best described as genuinely creepy deep-fried Southern piano chords smothered by a pillow by a retarded guy who is holding a knife to your throat and whispering “I don’t like wrestlers touching me” and “Lives are gonna be in Waylon Mercy’s hands!” and “Do you know what it’s gonna be like to have Waylon Mercy control your destiny?”. Which was perfect for introducing who Waylon Mercy was, a quietly insane heel character, a man who made you hope that Sarah’s Law was in place when he came down to ringside, and so this song couldn’t help be part of the entire package of a gimmick and theme tune synthesis, for a wrestler who was going to have a long-running and successful career. So, typically, his WWF tenure fizzled out after three months due to injury.

Suitability for a Big and Rich cover version: 0/10.
Suitability for a Johnny Cash “American” sessions cover version, however: 10/10

03. “The Real Double J” Jesse James Theme
“I Can’t Wait To Be Alone With My Baby Tonight”
Traditionally, you get the audience to boo a guy in a wrestling match by either having him pretend to be one of the gays, or an Ay-rab. With the introduction of “Double J” Jeff Jarrett in the early 90s, the WWF tried to add a third stereotype to this axis of showboat evil: the class of ’89 style country musician. Yep, we all know that there was a little bit too much flash coming out of Nashville in those days, and so Vince McMahon and his merry men decided it would be a good idea to capitalise on this. It wasn’t. Still, it led to the introduction of his roadie, The Roadie, and in a storyline so tediously dull I can’t remember it fully or bring myself to actually research it, it turned out that it was he himself who was singing on Jarrett’s “hit” “records”. So The Roadie became “The Real Double J” Jesse James, and the world was introduced to this, the best song that Garth Brookes never recorded. Yep, even better than that one about trucks. This is as sterile and lab-produced as country music can get, and all the better for it. Light as air, twangalicious, and probably the only time that (WWE theme tune “genius”) Jim Johnston and his band of session musicians trumped the actual genre they were mimicking.

Suitability for a Big and Rich cover version: 7/10 if Gretchen Wilson does the “Hold me in your arms, never let me go” backing vocals, 9/10 if Cowboy Troy does them.

02. Hillbilly Jim Theme
“Don’t Mess With A Country Boy”
Hicks, rednecks, trailer trash, white trash, good ol’ boys, mountain boys, good ol’ mountain boys: never let it be said that the world of wrestling isn’t just as happy to exploit Southern stereotypes as it is stereotypes of foreigners. The king of all bumpkin wrestlers though, in the same way that stabbing yourself in the groin is the king of all genital pains, was Hillbilly Jim. 320 pounds of uselessness squeezed into a pair of dungarees. And here all possible reference points that you could have for a fat guy called “Hillbilly Jim” are hammered into the ground like tent pegs. Really, short of him announcing that he’s about to rape Ned Beatty, it’s hard to know what other schtick he could perform to convince you of his gimmick. The song can be summed up as follows: he grew up, ate a lot of food, probably drank “moonshine” and eat “possum”, his mother killed a bear once, and then he announces, as a swerveball, that he “hates the fool that’ll get in his way.” Even hillbillies love Mr T! And you cannot not love this, possibly the high-point of 80s cartoon idiocy in pro-wrestling. You know how American critics find grime exotic because they don’t really understand what’s being said? This is my personal grime.

Suitability for a Big and Rich cover version: 10/10.
Obviously.

01. New Jack Theme
Dr Dre feat. Ice Cube - “Natural Born Killaz”
“Ay nigga, why you fuckin’ with me?”
“Fuck you nigga, because I can”

So, yeah, anyone who has watched enough wrestling to know these things will have just gone “Well duh” at this choice of number one and gone to read something else. For the others amongst you… you know how film studies students always end up writing thousands upon thousands of words in theses about how Martin Scorsese is the master of matching music to violence perfectly in his films? Well, if these people ever saw a New Jack match, heard Cube and Dre cackle like witches with dodgy metabolisms over the top of it whilst he sets about making steak tartare out of his opponent’s forehead, they’d tear their essays up.

Anyway, New Jack is a wrestler who can’t wrestle. New Jack is really Jerome Young, who before learning to pull his punches worked as a bounty hunter, and has four legitimate homicides registered to his name. His matches show a similar disregard for the sanctity of human life. He’s been arrested on a number of occasions for his actions within the ring, most famously for when he decided it’d be a bit of a giggle to use a knife to cut into an opponents skull so deep plasma started spurting out. His matches tend to entail him hitting his opponents over the head with a variety of light-hearted slapstick weaponry (include such laugh inducing items as a scythe and an industrial staple gun), before leaping 20 feet off of a balcony onto his fellow combatant, usually dislocating his own heel or retina in the process. Pretty much as close to the spirit of punk that wrestling has ever got, except this time it actually was dangerous. And all through these matches, Dre and Cube would be shouting the odds in the background. He’s the only wrestler of note to keep his music playing during his matches, turning it into a weird hybrid of street theatre and street fighting. And the best thing about it all is the song himself. Specifically, the line: “I’ma pull a fucking Jeffrey Dahlmer/ Now he’s suicidal, just like Nirvana”, because you can imagine Cube racking his brain in the studio going “Oh, what was the lead singer of Nirvana’s name?” and Dre was all like “Never heard of them” and Cube was all “Yeah, sure you have, they used to be on MTV all the time with that “Black Hole Sun” song”. And, anyway, by this point the paramedics would be out and the ring would be covered in blood and you’d be hoping the guys had been tested for hepatitis and in those situations you tend to forget about lyrical anomalies.



By: Dom Passantino
2005-02-11


Comments
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Posted 02/11/2005 - 08:23:54 AM by OhHeavenlyDog:
 What, no "I Am A Real American" by Rick Derringer? No "Grab Them Cakes"? Hilarious article.
 
Posted 02/11/2005 - 09:25:59 AM by DomPassantino:
 G-R-A-B-T-H-E-M-C-A-K-E-S was the unofficial number 11 on this list. Number 12 was the rhythmic chanting of "Easy" that accompanied a traditional Shirley Crabtree match.
 
Posted 02/11/2005 - 12:23:47 PM by MindInRewind:
 The greatest themesong ever was clearly the one used by the Nation in 1998. That sludgy beat and cavernous bass was worthy of Gravediggaz. Then they gave it to the Rock when he went solo, and kept tweaking it bit by bit, making a great song increasingly shitty, until finally it was no longer any good. However, New Jack was a good choice too.
 
Posted 02/11/2005 - 11:32:45 PM by Snorfle:
 Agreed, why no love for the Nation music?
 
Posted 02/12/2005 - 01:10:59 AM by andrew:
 New Jack at one for sure, but where's Bret Hart/Demolition/Undertaker/Ultimate Warrior (Or it's twin The Rockers)/Vader/..... the list goes on. Still, great article though. (But No#2 should definitely have been the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, it was '80's greed personified...)
 
Posted 02/12/2005 - 09:53:51 PM by Spanky:
 I remember when the Undertaker used Limp Bizkit's 'Rollin' as his theme, and Fred Durst even sang his entrance in the ring. I stopped watching wrestling after that, and can only now stomach it. I think it was Dallas Page who had a theme 'inspired by' Nirvana?
 
Posted 02/13/2005 - 12:03:38 PM by Ferg_OR:
 Page had a Teen Spirit knockoff and Raven's was like Come As you Are, I think Jimmy Hart wrote them both.
 
Posted 02/14/2005 - 04:03:48 PM by HipHopHippo:
 c'mon no shaun michaels theme?? "Im just a sexy boy, sexxxyyy boooyyyy, im not your boy toy, boyyyy tooooyyyyy." pure hardcore sex addict right there. i also enjoyed the theme of the guy, im not sure of his name, but it went "helllooo ladiess"....I havent watched in 6 years so you can all just shut up
 
Posted 02/14/2005 - 08:50:23 PM by Jank82:
 Razor Ramon's theme music was the absolute best. Thanks to Rollie for hooking me up with that.
 
Posted 02/15/2005 - 02:22:52 AM by Snorfle:
 HipHopHippo- that would be Val Venis, the porn star/wrestler. i sense a theme in your selections.
 
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