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Solie's Tuesday Morning Report: EXTRA!

Volume 1, Issue 77
November 13, 1996

An Informal History of Wrestling Music: Part 3

by Jeff Yelton

Editor's Note: This issue of Solie's Wrestling Newsletter is again devoted to the music used as entrance themes by our favorite sports-entertainers. In this installment, Solie's newest contributor, Jeff Yelton, concludes his exploration of the music that helped define our wrestling heroes and villians.

But First...correcting a Mis-quote

Before we get into Jeff's report I want to correct something which has been attributed to me in several places on the Internet. Before this evening I had never visited the Dinferno Wrestleboard message board, let alone posted any message there. Nor have I ever stated anywhere that I believed that Sting is about to jump to the WWF, or be the "Secret Partner" at Survivor Series. I am appalled that a certain supposedly reputable newsletter has seen fit to publish this misinformation as fact without bothering to check with the source. I have since gone to the Wrestleboard and appended my own message to this bogus posting in order to refute it. I would hope that in the future that people would check with me first before "quoting" me again.

Now on with the music...

The NWA got help from the Turner music library when Ted eventually bought out Jim Crockett in 1988. Lex Luger got his hard-rocking theme which appears in the strangest of places on occasion (I heard it on a old episode of the BBC/Nickelodeon cartoon series "Duckula"), Sting got his heart-pounding music, and as 1989 approached, the use of movie themes from the Turner library accompained both Terry Funk ("Once Upon a Time in America", more specifically the eerie theme that accompanies Charles Bronson's Harmonica character) and the Samoan Swat Team ("Halloween"). Ric Flair was put in charge of booking, and he brought back commercial music. So, the Steiner Brothers were led to the ring by Guns and Roses "Welcome to the Jungle", while the Dynamic Duds, I mean Dudes, mounted turnbuckles to strip to the Beach Boys/Fat Boys' collaboration "Wipe Out", adding vocals to an instrumental piece recorded by the Surfaris. The themes matched the wrestlers perfectly, and we got the cold chill feelings when Funk would wander out to that weird harmonica music. But the Steiners really didn't hit their stride until they usurped the theme music from the CNN series "The Capitol Gang". Then, they rolled!

As we move into the '90's, some endearing original themes endure. The Undertaker's original forboding gong-laden pipe organ dirge did much to elevate the character's presence in the minds of many in the audience. Somehow it did seems 10 degrees colder when the undertaker walked in the arena!

Many would put the Hart Foundation's synthesizer dirge in there as a classic, but I wouldn't. The only thing endearing about it is who used it. Bret Hart didn't get a decent theme until this music was sped up and rocked out in 1995. Now, it's cool.

And there were clunkers. The Rockers were cool in the AWA when accompanied by Judas Priest's "Livin' After Midnight", but the music Vince gave them, now passed onto the New Rockers, sucks. This is ROCKING? No wonder Shawn threw Marty through a plate glass window,...

Jimmy Snuka's music began with an embarassing "Shoop, shoop" at a time when Vince was at his apex of his cartoon-fest creative phase. (My longtime friend Stephanie postulates that Vince gets most of his character ideas by locking himself in a room with about 8 dozen donuts, a couple of packs of cookies, and 12 boxes of candy, and waits for the sugar rush to kick in.) And don't even mention Terry Taylor,...

But we got some goodies, like the Big Boss Man's theme, and Ted DiBiase's "hauntingly beautiful" (as my good friend Joe Crowe would say) "Money, Money, Money, Money, Money" theme kicked in. The LOD were prevented from bringing their "Iron Man" theme to the WWF which was redone by another group of musicians because WCW, I guess got a cut out of it. (They did let the Roadies bring in Rocco, their childhood doll, though,...good one, Vince,...) Their new instrumental theme, punctuated by Hawk's opening declaration of "AAAAAAAAAHHHHHH WHAT A RUSH!" worked almost as well as "Iron Man". And soon, we got Scary Sherri doing "Boy Toy" as a tribute to Shawn Michaels. Punctuated by the glass-shattering "Oh, Shawnnnnn!", it is a piece of wrestling history. Good themes all, and not all were rock and roll/heavy metal tunes, which seemed to be all that WCW could crank out for their guys.

WCW by now had stepped up its production values and had its first wrestlers with pure music gimmicks. P.N. News was an entertaining round mound of rap sound, with his rapping before (and after) every match. He could get a crowd going! And we had "Heavy Metal" Van Hammer, who had a good theme song, but couldn't actually play a guitar. It didn't matter. People liked him anyway.

About 1992, WCW started getting serious with its music, and put together tracks for its own wrestling album. Cursed with WWF-envy, they tried to match the WWF tune for tune with its 1993 album, and I guess Michael Hayes had something to do with it, as the Freebirds finally abandoned the all-time classic original wrestling anthem "Bad Street USA", with "I'm a Freebird, What Was Your Excuse?", which he and Jimmy Garvin debuted on the January, 1992 Clash of the Champions. Garvin and Hayes both wrote and sang the song. After that, the powers that be decided to get the album together. Once Bill Watts left, the album got released. It gave us some really good stuff, like Barry Windham's new theme "He's Smokin'", which would have worked better had he been a face at the time (of course, when it was written, he was,...). We also got the Willie Nelson type, "Natural" for Dustin Rhodes, which was proof that WCW got it. Not everybody had to come out to rock and roll music and be over. Johnny B. Badd's new theme replaced a dismal piece of 1950's-style stock music, and pumped up Johnny's image, and Cactus Jack's personality fit "Mr. Bang Bang" perfectly. It was too cool for words,...

But the clunkers on the album inlcuded Rick Rude's new theme, "Simply Ravashing", which was really awful for a heel. It replaced the hastily-thrown together "Black Cat"-type theme that he had used since joining WCW in October, 1991. The previous stuff was better. And Ricky Steamboat's theme was so dreadful that WCW yanked it for a menacing "Dragon"-like theme music to accompany him down the aisle and punctuate his fire-eating act. (He must have had a lot of indisgestion,...)

As we go to the present, we are surrounded by Jimmy Hart now doing themes for former WWF stars in WCW that sound suspiciously close to their WWF themes. Hulk Hogan's "American Made" is "Real American" on steroids, without the downbeat and the kindness of the Derringer tune. Honky Tonk Man's "Honky Tonk Baby" was so close, however, that any attorney would rule in Vince's favor should he choose to sue. (HTM will use it again, as he is WCW bound.)

And the WWF put out their new album, with a bunch of themes. One comment,...Shawn singing his "Boy Toy" song doesn't work as well as when Sherri sang it. The original song was not only written for a heel, but was written as a grown woman's gushing like a 12-year-old over some Hollywood Hunk. Shawn singing it is confusing, and it is inappropriate music for the WWF Champ. (Please let Bret beat this annoying slug at Wrestlemania, Vince!)

I know I just beat this to death, but I had to say something about it. Wrestling music is as big a part of the atmosphere and history of the sport, and to me, it adds (or detracts) to the effectiveness of the characters. This history is far from complete, but I hope I educated some of you on why I'm so irritated about this. It shouldn't bug me that Lex doesn't care about his theme music, but it does.

In the future, I'll post my all-time faves and flops amongst wrestling themes right here on this page!

Jeff Yelton lives in Westminster, Maryland and has watched wrestling for 23 of his thirty years. He holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Journalism from the University of Maryland. In his spare time Jeff collects wrestling tapes (he owns over 60 of them) and baseball cards, surfs the net, watches TV, and helps manage the Global Wrestling Alliance, an e-mail fantasy wrestling fed, which is in its fifth year in Cyberspace.

This concludes Jeff's article and I would like to thank him again for his excellent contribution to Solie's Newsletter. I look forward to featuring his work again in the near future. Great job Jeff!

Anyway, that's the way I see it...

Earl Oliver,
editor Solie's Wrestling Newsletter

(Editor's Note: If you have found anything I have said here to be particularly offensive please read this disclaimer).

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This page is a personal tribute and is in no way connected to any of the wrestling promotions mentioned on it. It is dedicated to the Dean of Wrestling announcers, Gordon Solie.

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