Sunday Sermon: Should WWE use more licensed music for wrestler entrance themes?

Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow and James Giles

Jamie: This topic was born out of me day-dreaming as I was walking down the street. I was listening to Keep Me by The Black Keys and thought it would be a great entrance theme for a wrestler. In fact if I were a wrestler I would be inclined to use it myself. It’s a song that would have been perfect for The Undertaker during his biker phase, or pretty much any heel that meanders to the ring at his own pace, CM Punk for example. It’s one of those songs that makes you walk with a certain “swagger”, so I guess if I were a wrestler I would need to reach CM Punk or Undertaker level of brilliance in order to pull it off. I’d better get training then…

Thinking more deeply about it, I think the music WWE uses for its performers is, on the whole, pretty bland. I understand why they don’t, but I would love WWE to use more licensed music for their performers. The right song can really do wonders for a wrestler, just look at The Sandman in the original ECW. His entrance using Metallica’s Enter Sandman was often better than his actual matches. CM Punk is currently the only wrestler permitted to use a notable licensed song and it fits his heel persona perfectly, although Cult of Personality was an odd choice when he was a babyface though.

Back to some songs that I would like to hear and I think a lot of Prodigy songs would work. Boxer Joe Calzaghe used Spitfire for his ring walk and I think this would fit a wrestler with an intense style, like Randy Orton perhaps. I also like the Dredd soundtrack, this whole album fits with darker, edgier superstars like NXT tag team The Ascension. At the moment they have this epic, slightly operatic song that, even for them, is a little over the top. Something equally as dark but more understated would fit the bill, and Paul Leonard-Morgan’s soundtrack to Dredd is a good shout for that.

Craig: What an amusing topic for chat.  My ring tone is Bret Hart’s theme but I guess that is probably unavailable eh? I guess it depends on the gimmick. If for some reason WWE signed me, maybe they, what with my ginger hair and Scottish origin, would go for a stereotypical Scottish gimmick eh? Kilts and bagpipes and all that.

As a fan of southern rock I’d like some sort of country music/southern rock tune as my intro but Heath Slater and James Storm have that angle covered too. Ultimately then probably some fuzzy power chord riff, pretty generic I know. I’d be happy for Jim Johnston to compose something for me though

James: Yeah this is an excellent topic, I quite often think of how songs would work as entrance themes when I’m listening to music. The other day I thought Biffy Clyro’s song Stingin’ Bell would be perfect to use for Sheamus, probably just once though as a Wrestlemania entrance; it would be awesome to actually have bagpipers lined up down the ramp as he made his entrance (and preferably have the band live) and fits the gimmick perfect. Cochise by Audioslave would be an epic choice for any monster heel really but would suit Brock Lesnar very well.

WWE is too tight when it comes to licensing music, some of best entrance themes have been smartly used famous songs. The Sandman example is apt, Sting also used a Metallica track, a live version of Seek and Destroy, and Hogan’s best theme was Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Child (Slight Return). WWE is obsessed with trying to integrate itself with the rest of popular culture and it is amazing to me they don’t take advantage of this more.

Craig: It’s mostly to do with money that the WWE don’t use it more. I hate hearing dubbed over music in WWE DVD releases – the Demolition music being the most frustrating. I guess they’d rather own their own music rather than paying a few cents here and there to some musician every time their music appears in a video game or on a DVD.

By and large wrestling music is very generic – TNA arguably being the worst. So many guys now just have such bland music. I’m thinking your McGillicuttys etc. It’s hard enough for these guys to break from obscurity as it is. At least a stand out music track might be a step in the right direction.

Jamie: TNA are the worst for generic music, although they can be very good when they get it right. I love Christopher Daniels’ music, Jeff Hardy’s is perfect for him, as is James Storm’s and I also quite like Zema Ion’s and Bully Ray’s entrance tunes. At least WWE have reached a level to be able to get recording artists to record songs exclusively for wrestlers to use. Motorhead and Killswitch Engage jump to mind in that respect. However good as some of these songs are I just prefer the idea of a wrestler using a song from out with the ‘WWE Universe’. It offers a kind of window into their personality. Take Wade Barrett for example. I love everything about his character, apart from his entrance. He’s basically an English hard man, complete with rose on his jacket, yet he comes out to a very American sounding song that sounds more suited to someone from NXT. If I had my way he would come out to a Clash song, but even better is that Barrett himself could choose a song that he likes. Some performers, such as Brodus Clay, will always be saddled with entrance songs because they are part of the overall Brodus Clay product. However guys like Barrett, who’s ring entrance isn’t such a big deal, should be allowed to select a song that they like as it will help us as fans identify with who these performers are and what they are about.

Craig: I’d heard Barrett has asked the Manic Street Preachers to record a song for him as he’s a big fan – has a Manics tattoo. That’d be pretty cool especially if it was Generation Terrorist esque stuff. Would work for his character too.

Jamie: I didn’t know that. All the more reason for me to like him because I’ve got a Manics related tattoo as well. We should mention that WWE aren’t too shy of using licensed music. However it tends to be used for events and shows rather than actual superstars. Also, the tracks used are normally special recordings, album tracks or pre-release tracks. That way, in a fans head, whenever they hear the song they will associate it with WWE first. Also, album and pre-release tracks are probably cheaper than established hits. You can understand why they do this but I still feel that using songs people know can only help superstars, especially lower down the card, to make a connection with the audience.

James: Using licensed music really does help the audience connect to superstars and the product in general. The My Sacrifice promo/tribute videos from the 2001 are still some of the most fondly remembered and the Creed track is definitely a big part of that. Marylin Manson’s The Beautiful People has also been used as a theme for RAW and Smackdown and it stands out in my memory over the other show themes.

Getting exclusive tracks from artists is something they should do more too. It’s a great boon for WWE when fans say ‘I heard it on WWE first’, especially with the increase in social media. They should really be encouraging this more.

Craig: James, if you were to mention the idea and the ‘social media’ aspect the WWE then would be all over it! Joking aside, I think the fact it helps distinguish superstars is the biggest reason to use it. Funny you mention the My Sacrifice video as the other day I was thinking about the ‘History’ video, arguably the greatest wrestling video ever. Whenever I hear the Lonely Road of Faith by Kid Rock now, which admittedly isn’t that often, I immediately think of the ‘History’ video.

Jamie: Hey! What’s wrong with Kid Rock?! Anyway… there’s a Jeff Hardy vignette that sticks in my mind purely due to the use of Rooftops by Lost Prophets. I couldn’t tell you the purpose of the video package or when exactly it was used, I just remember it was to promote Jeff Hardy and it used that song. Had the package used an original composition I feel confident I wouldn’t have any recollection of it so the use of licensed music in this instance has had a huge impact on me and surely other fans too.

So it seems like WWE are not too shy about using licensed music, they just tend not to use established songs, which is a real shame. Jim Johnston does a fantastic job, but one of his songs is unlikely to help someone like the aforementioned Michael McGillicutty connect with the fans. Give Mr Perfect Jr. a track by someone like Guns N’ Roses, Metallica or I could even see a Black Stone Cherry song suiting him, and you give the guy a head start to build upon.

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