Yes, you read that right, wrestling is a musical event. This is an idea that’s been rolling around in my head for a few months and I thought I would share it with you (I’m hoping to turn it into a paper). For the purposes of this post, when I refer to wrestling, I refer to WWE events only (I could include TNA/Impact, ROH, New Japan, etc. but that would mean looking at a lot more examples and exceptions, so it’s simpler this way for now).
If you think about it, from the earliest days of the WWE (then known as the WWF), the weekly show Monday Night RAW has revolved around music. This became even more true once the Attitude Era got rolling in the late 1990s. Now, in the Reality Era, music dominates a typical WWE show.
- each wrestler/team has entrance music
- there’s typically “exit music” once a winner is declared
- if a brawl ensues, whoever came out on top is declared by the music that follows
- a run-in can be signalled with music
- RAW, Smackdown and NXT all have their own show themes
- Wrestlemania, the “Superbowl” of WWE, features live music performances
So in a typical 3 hour show of Monday Night RAW, let’s say there are 10 matches. Each entrance lasts for at least 3-5 minutes (whether it’s televised or not) so that’s 30-50 minutes of the show dedicated to music right there. Including “exit music” that’s another 3-5 minutes each, so that’s (at the most) almost two hours with music playing (in hindsight, 10 matches in a show is probably a lot, but this still gives you an idea of how much music dominates the show).
And the music serves a deeper purpose as well: not only does it announce the coming of a wrestler, or a group of wrestlers, it also cues the audience on how it should react. If a face (good guy) is coming, the crowd will cheer and occasionally “pop” (sudden loud cheer) if it’s someone they really love or are surprised by. But if a heel (bad guy) is coming, the crowd will boo in anticipation.
All of these entrance themes, where do they come from? Well, in some cases, wrestlers use music tracks from well known bands (with permission) as is the case with Triple H’s longtime entrance theme “The Game” performed by Motorhead. But for most of the entrance themes, the music is actually composed by a house composer that works for the WWE. For years this was Jim Johnston (who has worked for the company in this capacity since 1985) but in recent years this role has been taken over by a group known as CFO$.
This is the core of my thoughts on WWE wrestling as a musical event. Hopefully in the future I’ll be able to turn this into a paper, possibly a case study where I look at a single show and what music was used throughout the night. I hope you enjoyed this random detour, I’m hoping to get back to Disturbing Disney next week with a scene that gives me the shivers to this very day (there’s a reason I can’t watch The Little Mermaid anymore).
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