Tag Archives: wrestling

Music in Wrestling #2: Origins

Now that I’ve established an idea of what I want to talk about with music in wrestling, it’s time to go back to the beginning and look at how the tradition of having music in wrestling entrances got started.

Unfortunately, it may be impossible to know exactly who started this tradition and when it started. Given wrestlings connection to fairs and carnivals, it’s probable that music’s association with wrestling goes back several hundred years at least. But as for how the modern wrestling entrance got started, there we at least have a vague timeline in place.

While we still don’t know (and probably never will know) the name of the first wrestler to incorporate music into their entrance, we do have a few names connected with the start of the tradition. Now, usually Gorgeous George (George Wagner, 1915-1963) is credited as one of the first wrestlers to use music in his entrances, as he would famously strut to the ring to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstances” at the height of his fame in the 1940s and 50s. Equal credit should also be given to Mildred Burke (1915-1989), who also began using music in her wrestling entrances at the same time (and some have argued that she actually started doing so before Gorgeous George).

There’s no doubt that Gorgeous George’s iconic entrance to “Pomp and Circumstances” inspired a whole host of wrestlers who followed in his footsteps, from Ric Flair (who entered to “Also Sprach Zarathustra”) to the late Macho Man Randy Savage (who also entered to “Pomp and Circumstances) and more. Believe it or not, his entrance even merited a parody in a Looney Tunes cartoon, ‘Bunny Hugged’, in 1951:

As the cartoon implies, Gorgeous George’s entrances were the stuff of legend (particularly by the peak of his career). Even before George made his appearance, rose petals would be sprinkled in his path, the air would be “cleansed” with perfume and then “Pomp and Circumstances” would play as the final element as Gorgeous George would finally grace the crowd with his presence. Gorgeous George was a true showman and helped to establish what would become the modern wrestling entrance, as did Mildred Burke, who incorporated similar elements into her own entrances as I said before.

Mildred Burke

But while Gorgeous George and Mildred Burke may be the best known of the early examples, neither of them were the first. In the case of Gorgeous George, he was inspired by the work of “Lord” Patrick Lansdowne (died 1959). Lansdowne portrayed himself as a snobby British aristocrat who would strut to the ring while “God Save the King” blared out. Since Lansdowne’s gimmick inspired the work of Gorgeous George, it stands to reason that Lansdowne made use of entrance music first. Though he may not be the very first to do so, Lansdowne does remain one of the earliest known wrestlers to use entrance music. And if you think about it, what better music for a heel to use in America in the early 20th century than “God Save the King”? It instantly sets the crowd against you because you’re establishing yourself as someone “other” and, more importantly “not-American.” It’s one of the easiest ways to get a crowd to boo you.

It should be noted at this point that even with the high profile examples of Gorgeous George and Mildred Burke, using music in wrestling entrances was not common at this point. There were a few high-profile examples (probably those who could afford it) and that would be all. It would be a few more decades until music in wrestling started to become commonplace and then, oh boy, things really started to get interesting.

I hope you enjoyed this brief look into the origins of music in wrestling. Next time I’ll be leaping forward into the 1980s, when the modern wrestling entrance as we know it really began to take shape.

See also:

Music in Wrestling #1: Why Talk About It?

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Music in Wrestling #1: Why Talk About It?

If you’ve followed my blog for more than a few years, you might remember that I briefly attempted a series sometime back where I wanted to talk about music in wrestling, particularly during major WWE events like Wrestlemania. As I was deeply engrossed in my dissertation at the time, the series never went anywhere and I ultimately deleted the article I did write. But now that I’m long since done with grad school, and I find my love of wrestling to be alive and well thanks to AEW, I think it’s high time I attempted this series again.

So that’s what this series will be about: in a series of posts I’m going to talk about music in wrestling, its history, notable examples, and why it works to make wrestling shows and events completely awesome.

However I understand that some longtime readers might be confused by this decision, wondering “This is Film Music Central, why would you want to talk about music at a wrestling show? Isn’t that a completely different topic?” It might seem completely unrelated at first glance, but hear me out, because there is a connection, albeit a tenuous one. If you consider the wrestling shows that are held on television, any music produced for those events instantly falls under the genre of television music, and TV music is the younger sibling of film music. So….it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that a film music blog could cover the topic.

“But….” the objection might continue “Why talk about the subject at all?”

Why indeed? I suppose this would be a good time to explain that I’ve been fascinated by the wrestling industry for years, how the shows are made, how the different elements come together, all of it. And being the musicologist that I am, it was only natural that I gravitated to the musical side of the industry. And make no mistake, there is a very musical side to the wrestling business. As I’ll discuss down the road, all of the major promotions employ house composers to put themes together for wrestlers and shows, and it’s a constantly evolving mix of music that has to tell a story every week on television. But more than that, I want to talk about music in wrestling because I feel like it’s not being given enough attention. There’s no comprehensive book on the subject (though I’m hoping to change that someday), and I feel like people need to know the major role that music plays in the wrestling industry.

Also, I feel like writing a series on this subject will help remind people that wrestling shows are far more than just watching people beat each other up. Wrestling is not just a series of fights, it’s a full-on experience, it’s being dropped into this crazy world where larger than life characters step into a ring and do feats that are almost superhuman. And the music is part and parcel with all that.

And yes, I am hoping to write a book on this subject someday. If nothing else, this particular blog series will be my first attempt to suss out my thoughts on the subject in something resembling a professional manner. Maybe it goes somewhere, maybe it doesn’t, but at least I’ll try. I hope you enjoy this series, I’m going to do my best to cover as wide a base of shows and promotions as I can, so if you follow a certain wrestling promotion and want to see me cover a particular theme or organization, let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do.

I hope this introduction explains why I’m going to be talking about music in wrestling. I’ve been thinking about a series like this for a long time, and I’m excited to finally move forward with it.

Let me know your thoughts about this subject (good or bad) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook