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First of all, I want to apologize for my behavior on Monday night. It was unprofessional, and I'm sorry to those of you I disappointed. In case it matters, I mixed the wrong kind of alcohol together and got far more messed up than I intended. That doesn't make it right, it's not something I do often, but it's no excuse. Today's column is my first attempt to make up for it, and I promise you no alcohol was involved.
IN LAIMAN'S TERMS: What is it About Entrance Themes?
Entrance themes are one of the most unique aspects of professional wrestling. It's a relatively simple concept, but one that is newer than professional wrestling itself. Because of the impact of that part of the business, now most sports have similar usage of introduction music. Baseball is one of the most notable ones, as every batter gets their own song or two accompanying them to the plate.
Wrestling fans are notorious for rocking out to their favorite entrance themes, hating some that are changed, critiquing the ones they don't like, and finding songs that already exist that should be entrance themes. One of the most fun parts of being an independent wrestler is choosing your own theme, and so many cross your mind when you're trying to make that decision.
What theme works right for you? What are you representing? Are you a heel or a face? Are you high-energy or a dark character? Is the intro to the song too long? Do the words make sense? Is the song appropriate for families to hear? Does it make sense for you to use it? Is somebody else already using it? All of these things cross your mind as you're making your final selections.
Anyone who has ever dreamed of being a wrestler relishes in the moment where that one particular song hits, the crowd reacts accordingly, and for that moment, you are a star. Even coming from someone who has done it to many different themes, it never gets old. That to me is the best moment of being a wrestler; the ring entrance, getting into character, and the final seconds ticking away before your match. At that point, nothing has gone wrong yet, you're just being yourself... or your character. Whichever.
In the realm of entrance themes that already do exist or were prevalent at one time, there are different great ones for various reasons. Most of them get divided into two categories: Songs created for the wrestler, and existing songs the wrestlers have chosen. Some argue that the themes that are created are the best, but there are some themes out there that seem tailor fit for some wrestlers.
In my experience on the indies, I've been exposed to new music because of entrance themes of wrestlers, both as a fan and as a fellow competitor. There are some I've heard way too many times, such as "Bulls on Parade" by Rage Against the Machine, and, well... anything by Metallica that isn't "Enter Sandman." "Wherever I May Roam" is one I've heard from at least three different wrestlers, sometimes in short sequence.
One of my first favorite themes that I heard on the indies was from my friend Shiima Xion, now known as TNA's Zema Ion. Back in 2006 when I saw him, his gimmick was that of a Filipino model, and he would spray his hair constantly. A high-flying, flashy, cocky wrestler, a fast-paced entrance theme fit him perfectly. His choice was "Kiss" by Dope Stars Inc. The intro gave him perfect opportunity to get the crowd riled up, and then the high energy that followed couldn't have been better for him, or for the tag team he formed with Jason Gory following that.
In those that were created for wrestlers, the first one that really got me invested was the original Kane theme, both for the perfection of the music contrasting with the character, and for the atmosphere the entire entrance created. Few would argue that The Undertaker has one of the most amazing entrances to see live, but when the lights would go out for several seconds, and that organ music would hit, in the first few years of Kane's career, that was a real kayfabe "OH SHIT!" moment. Dark and slow, but perfect for the Big Red Monster. Somehow it didn't seem the same with the extra organ involved when it was remade. "Slow Chemical" was created by Finger Eleven and also used in the movie The Punisher, and there was a certain awesomeness to that as well. But for me, nothing tops the original entrance or theme.
Speaking of perfectly fitting a character, the wacky, insane, rambling Delirious had one of those themes that seemed like it was made for him. With a guy jumping around, yelling, speaking Lizard, and smashing things, the opening strains of "Hybrid Stigmata" by Dimmu Borgir set the mood and scene to a perfect T. Delirious is someone I miss, as seeing him freak out when the bell rang and yelling unintelligibly at his opponents and/or fans, it was something different, entertaining, and often hilarious. As I've written many times before, I'm far more likely to support you if you can make me laugh.
Sometimes a wrestler doesn't appeal to you at all, but they have such a badass entrance theme that you can't wait to see them. Drew McIntyre fits this category for me. He's never been able to make me give a shit about him in his entire career, but the "Broken Dreams" theme in its full length is one of the best themes around. It leaves a lot to live up to, and I hope at some point, McIntyre can achieve that.
On the current scene, there are a few more that have become so synonymous with their counterpart that it would be a shame to see them change. "Written in my Face" for Sheamus is so embedded in his character, and on the net for LOBSTERHEAD! fans, that something else just doesn't cut it. The Miz's theme fits the character so much that I'm not sure you could make something better. And have I mentioned enough times how much I love Brodus Clay's "Somebody Call My Momma"? Even if it wasn't made for him, I mark out for the theme itself every time.
That formula has been proven wrong in the past, though. No one thought the glass-shattering Stone Cold theme would need any modification, but when Disturbed came out with their version, it increased the moment of truth when the Rattlesnake hit the stage. Edge was fortunate enough to have many kickass themes throughout his career, from the Brood, Rob Zombie, and his "You Think You Know Me" theme, but once he found Alterbridge's "Metalingus", there was no changing that one ever again.
CM Punk was fortunate enough to retain some of his indy roots with "Cult of Personality", thus proving that when done, it can improve a character that's already on top of his game. That theme is so good that I barely remember he didn't have it for the first five years of his WWE career.
When he wasn't too drunk to stand up, The Sandman using the aforementioned "Enter Sandman" was a damn spectacle, albeit tremendously long. His moment, unfortunately edited out by WWE on the DVD, entering One Night Stand in 2005 was the highlight of the entire show for me. Hearing an entire crowd singing along and rocking out was an immortal moment as a wrestling fan.
Sometimes the fear is that the introduction of the song can be too long, but a few times that has been acceptable. A heel stable on the indies used "Bad Company" by Five Finger Death Punch, and that seemed to really work. Ironically enough, I saw a tag team use the original "Bad Company", and it just failed miserably. Sometimes it's who is using it more than the song itself. When The Rock returned in 2003, the intro to his heel theme was one of the longer ones, but it fit the return of the nasty, bad guy Rocky. While the norm that he uses still brings memories of some of the biggest pops in history, such as last year before WrestleMania 27, there's still a special place for that run with the heel Hollywood theme.
I'd be a failure as a writer if I didn't mention "Real American", because despite Hulk Hogan ruining his own legacy and career in the last decade or so, that theme still gives me goosebumps when I hear it. I didn't even live through Hulkamania, and that guitar riff and the song just screams wrestling history. When he came out at WrestleMania 21, as I've written before, that moment everyone forgot that they were smart fans and for just a minute, became just a fan again. Those are the moments that fans never forget.
However, there is one entrance theme that I think could help one of WWE's blossoming stars cross that realm into superstardom. He's already on the way, thanks surprisingly to a squash loss at WrestleMania this year, but one thing I believe could bring it all together is the return of "The Final Countdown". By far my favorite entrance of all time is Bryan Danielson on the indies. Whether he was a face or a heel, that opening synthesizer riff gives me chills whenever I hear it, and I always hear the whole Ring of Honor crowd singing along word for word, regardless of his crowd disposition. If they did it for Punk, I would love to see that return for Daniel Bryan in 2012. Sometimes an amazing entrance theme can complete a piece of work just on the edge of becoming great.
I realize that I've left a lot out here, but that's where you come in. I'd love to hear some of your favorite all time themes. Feel free to include past WWE ones, as well as WCW, ECW, TNA, or any other promotion. As someone with over 300 themes on his iPod, if I listed all the ones I like, I'd be here all damn day. But I will mention one more... The stable of the Corporate Ministry may have sucked ass, but the theme combining the "No Chance in Hell" with an Undertaker-style dark song is badass.
Let's hear it! Tell me your favorites and least favorites of all time!