WWE has parted ways with long-time music composer Jim Johnston – the man who wrote some its most iconic superstar themes. One of WWE’s unsung heores, Johnston defined the sound of WWE for 30 years. To celebrate the music of WWE, SunSport looks back at the 10 greatest superstar themes.
CM Punk – Cult Of Personality
By 1980s rockers Living Colour, this song accompanied CM Punk after his return in 2011. He reportedly demanded using the track as part of his contract negotiations after his infamous Pipebomb promo. It signalled Punk’s step-up to legit main eventer and the lyrics perfectly encapsulates Punk’s cult-like appeal. Next time it plays in WWE (and it will eventually) the place will explode.
DX – Are You Ready?
The endless reunions watered down DX, back in the late 1990s they were a dangerously exciting act. The song, written by Johnston and performed by the DX Band, was the original soundtrack to WWE’s move to an edgier adult-orientated product – which became the Attitude Era.
Though their intro was heavily influenced by the NWO, it was a key part of the DX package. Just avoid the live version of the song at WrestleMania XIV – ear-splittingly awful.
One of several recent themes by modern WWE maestros John Alicastro and Mike Lauri –and a perfect example of a theme song that’s actually helped a talent get over.
Roode always had the makings of a WWE star, but this song – complete with his dramatic entrance – turned him into a huge fan favourite before he’d even stepped into the ring.
Check out his debut entrance at TakeOver: Brooklyn II. You can see him trying not to mark out for himself because he knows how damn good it is.
Dusty Rhodes – Common Man Boogie
The most feel-good example from the golden age of cartoonish superstar entrance themes. (See also Big Boss Man’s “Hard Time”, Akeem and Slick’s “Jive Soul Bro”, Ted DiBiase’s “It’s All About The Money, and – of course – Honky Tonk Man’s “Cool, Cocky, Bad”)
It has the best use of a cowbell in musical history and 30 years later it’s still a toe-tapper. No wonder The Dream did so much shucking and jiving in the ring.
One of the all-time great themes for getting an immediate crowd reaction – and never fails to get fans chanting back at the Olympic Hero. (These days it’s a weird mark of respect to have 15,000 fans shouting “You suck!”) The Patriot and Sgt Slaughter also used the tune as their ring entrance music in the late 1990s
Demolition – Demolition
Written by Grammy Award-winning musician Rick Derringer, this is the first WWE superstar theme to really “sound” like the character. With its thumping power chords it perfectly sums up Ax and Smash’s in ring style – hard-hitting moves and chopping opponents down. Unfortunately, it’s always dubbed over on the WWE Network with an inferior theme tune due to the licensing rights.
The Undertaker – Graveyard Symphony
No list of WWE’s greatest music would be complete without The Deadman. Save his Limp Bizkit phase around the Attitude Era, Taker has used variations of his classic original theme. A crucial part of the theatrics of the Undertaker character, his theme made rings entrances an important part of any superstar’s persona.
Hulk Hogan – Real American
Perhaps the most iconic theme tune in the history of wrestling, the opening chords are still enough to make the fans go wild. Also written by Rick Derringer, it was originally used by mid-1980s tag team the US Express (which include Bray Wyatt’s dad Mike Rotunda). But the tune is now synonymous with the Hogan and is as integral to Hulkamania as the red and yellow, leg drop, and 24-inch pythons.
Stone Cold Steve Austin – “Hell Frozen Over”/The Rock – “Electrifying”
It’s a tie between the respective tunes for the two biggest stars of the Attitude Era – both written by Johnston. Each piece of music is iconic, but it’s the opening second that makes it – Austin’s smashing glass and Rock belting out: “If you smell what The Rock is cooking!” From that point, all great theme tunes had an instantly recognisable opening to pop the crowd and turn superstar entrances and returns into historic moments.
Ultimate Warrior – Unstable
If the Ultimate Warrior was a piece of music, this would be it. No song has introduced a wrestler more perfectly in the past 30 years. For a generation of WWE fans, this music is still enough to send chills down the spine – and immediately conjures up the image of the Warrior charging to the ring and shaking the ropes.
It’s a crazy, high-energy tune for a crazy, high-energy performer – all power, speed, and volume turned right up. The ultimate theme music.