Theme music is the first thing we experience at an event or watching at home to know: In the words of Goldberg, “Who’s next?” Jim Johnson is the man behind many of themes we hear in WWE. No fans of WWE seem to love a good tune than our friends over in the United Kingdom. Just like with Fandango, they got behind Adam Rose and his theme music in a major way on Raw. I hate to break it to them and all of you, but Fandango and Adam Rose did not even come close to making my top 10 entrance songs in WWE History.
As always when we do one of these list style posts the opinions are mine and mine alone. So all the praise or blame lies with me. I feel like a Radio D.J or Dick Clark about now. So let’s see who is topping my charts of the best theme music of all time.
10-C.M Punk: “Cult Of Personality”
This became the anthem for CM Punk coming off his historic win over John Cena at Money in the Bank in 2011. He would return to the WWE with this brand new theme music and it has become the anthem for all that worship Punk. In Living Color, which I learned thanks to this song is not just an old 90’s comedy show that was on Fox. It was a band as well and they are one of few acts that have got to play a superstar to the ring, which they did for Punk prior to his match with Chris Jericho at Wrestlemania 28. All the things that make a great theme this song has. You know it right away and that means Punk is about to arrive.
9-Daniel Bryan: “Flight of Valkeries”
For his old fans form his days in Ring of Honor it might not be as good as “The Final Countdown,” but Daniel Bryan has taken this classical song and made it his own. Want to know if someone is a wrestling fan or not? Play this song and if they jump out of their seat and start chanting “Yes! Yes! Yes!” they just might be. Like all the good songs on this list, a few opening bars that grasp your attention are easy to recognize. It has become the music that gets drowned out by the “Yes!” Chants but it is that spark to set that all in motion.
8-Bret Hart : “Hitman”
It’s a guitar riff and than a relentless beat that seems to go on forever. It makes for easy looping which also comes in handy sometimes for theme music. For a time in Canada it was about as recognized and revered as the National Anthem of this country I call home. Maybe a little over the top, but maybe not as when Hart became the villain to most of you in the U.S at the same time it cemented him as a Canadian Icon and legend. It crossed over beyond wrestling into the national culture. Bret Hart for a time was a very big deal in Canada and to this day still is to some extent. Like someone else’s theme coming up on this list representing the U.S.A. In a more subtle and indirect way Bret Hart’s theme represented Canada and inspired pride.
7-Bray Wyatt:: “Live In Fear”
It’s hard to explain how the mood of an entire building just changes when Bray Wyatt’s theme hits. There is something both eerie and soothing at the same time. The song captures the character that is Bray Wyatt perfectly. When the children’s choir is unavailable this song is just fine. Part of Bray Wyatt moving up the ladder was having the band that wrote his theme play him in to face John Cena. Bray Wyatt has the best overall entrance currently in wrestling today and his music is a huge part of it.
6-Macho Man Randy Savage: “Land of Hope And Glory”
Someone is graduating or Randy Savage is heading to the ring. Let’s be honest how many high school student’s that grew up in to 80’s had a strange look at why they were playing Randy Savage’s theme music at their graduation? That is how much Savage owned that song for a generation of fans and to this day. The classical song was just another layer to the over the top persona that was Randy Savage.
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5- John Cena: “My Time Is Now”
Love him or hate him you know when he is coming when that music hits. Maybe the conflict about Cena even begins with his theme music. Singing your own entrance music is not exactly the baby face thing to do is it? It’s kind of arrogant isn’t it? One person’s arrogance is another person’s self-confidence. The words as well have come to represent that conflict as well. In the beginning it was Cena’s time and now for a growing and vocal portion of the WWE Audience that feels his time is done. Regardless of all that when that music hit’s the crowd reaction positive or negative is instant. People are not indifferent about John Cena and they never have been.
4-Shawn Michaels: “Sexy Boy”
This song has had a couple versions the first by the late and great Sherri Martel providing the lyrics to it. Later Shawn himself doing the vocals. I am not sure when the exact moment was Shawn stopped being a “Sexy Boy,” but he clearly has. Still, the music and song has stuck and remained with him. It just wouldn’t be right to not have the music that defined the cocky, arrogant superstar that broke out on his own leaving tag-team wrestling and his partner in the dust. You may not admit it out loud but you know all the words.
3-Stone Cold Steve Austin: “I Won’t Do What You Tell Me”
The glass breaks and according the man himself that means that he is about to whip someone’s ass. Which during the attitude era was most often the case. The pops explosion that took place when that glass broke might be only rivalled by one man on this list. One other thing about this entrance it provided a lesson in how to sell. Vince McMahon would react with some of the best facial expression upon hearing that glass break. From rage to anger and at times just plain fear of what was going to happen next. It is a great lesson for people. Selling begins from moment you walk out that curtain and doesn’t end until you return through it. Reactions to music can be powerful ways to do that.
2-Undertaker: “Graveyard Symphony”
Many would make the argument that this should be number one. It is the best entrance according to the WWE Countdown show on the subject. The music is what sets the tone for it all. Wrestlers and fans alike have talked about how it legitimately creates goose bumps. It is the perfect marriage of character, man and music. The slow methodical walk of the Undertaker you can see if you close your eyes listing to this music. No song and entrance in wrestling totally changed the atmosphere of an arena the way the Undertaker does. He works in perfect harmony with all of the elements of his famous entrance and that includes the music.
1-Hulk Hogan: “Real American”
It was an experience to be in any arena around the world in the 1980’s when this music hit and the man in red and yellow made his way to the ring. I am not, nor never been a Hulk Hogan fan. I can’t deny though that when he entered a building it really felt like it was going to explode. The patriotic lyrics did not impact on “the pop” that Hogan would get around the world. He was like going to see Superman in a live arena in some respect. Some guys might get bigger pops occasionally at certain events or in certain places. Hogan in the 80’s consistently got them in any places in the world by the mid to late 80’s.
A mix of the old and the new coming up with the best 10 songs in the land. Truth is there are so many that I don’t have on this list. The D-X theme that was iconic, One of the many Motorhead songs for HHH and dozens more. What all good entrance themes have in common is that you know instantly who is coming out on that stage. So much so that one of the often use heel moves in wrestling is to have the theme music of their rival play. Just like we saw with Stephanie McMahon coming out to Bryan’s music doing the “Yes” chant. You want instant heat that is how you get. Another great example of this was when Shawn Michaels was in Montreal prior to his Summerslam showdown with Hogan and he had Bret Hart’s music play. The crowd was stunned not expecting to see Bret who had been out of WWE. In the end they would not see him and instead would have HBK laughing at them for getting tricked.
If you have a great interest in this topic beyond this list I recommend seeking out Stone Cold’s podcast with Jim Johnson in a rare interview for a guy that has been such a part of the WWE through creating themes and music over the years. Really interesting interview Austin had with him. People often talk of what will WWE do when Vince McMahon is gone. It might be almost as hard to find a replacement for Johnson. He has created the musical sound track for generations now in the WWE.
Does the man make the music or the music make the man. Ideally neither is true as the music reflects the man and the man reflects the music. In all of the cases in our top 10 that marriage is clear.