Sunday, January 13, 2013

Top 10 Wrestling Themes of the Golden Age

Greetings fellow Golden Agers!  Hope the new year is treating you well thus far.

This week, we’ll take a look at the Top 10 wrestling themes of the Golden Age.  For anyone who is new to the blog, “The Golden Age” is a period stretching from the mid 1980s through  roughly the mid to late 1990s.

Only one restriction for this list—the song must be composed specifically for the wrestler(s) using it.  So for example The Sandman’s use of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” was excellent, but that song existed long before he ever used it.  Ditto Ricky Steamboat and “The Alan Parsons Project” song.  Unfortunately this rule also nixes some classics like Randy Savage’s “Pomp & Circumstance” or Ric Flair’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, but on the bright side there are plenty of great themes even without those classics.

Honorable Mentions: Bret Hart, Harlem Heat, Razor Ramon, Ted DiBiase, Kurt Angle

10. New World Order

Hulk Hogan’s joining of The Outsiders in 1996 created the greatest stable in the history of the wrestling business.  The nWo’s theme became synonymous with the brash, bad boy attitude that made them hated by many in the ‘90s.  Who could forget the Hulkster, beard dyed black, sauntering out to this theme and playing the spray painted championship belt like a guitar?

9. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers

One of the most overlooked tag teams of the era, Jacques and Raymond Rougeau were one of WWF’s top heel teams in the 1980s.  The real life brothers from Montreal used a gimmick where they’d pretend to support America, even waving tiny American flags as they came to the ring, but they clearly did not have real allegiance to the USA.  A fun fact about their theme music is that they pretend to be patriotic “All American Boys” while singing in English, but when they switch to French they are actually dissing the USA.

8. Strike Force’s “Girls in Cars”

Tito Santana and Rick Martel were among the WWF’s most exciting wrestlers in the late 80s.  When they combined to form a new tag team called "Strike Force", a hip, flashy entrance theme was needed.  In 1987, Strike Force got just that with Robbie Dupree's “Girls in Cars” off of the WWF Piledriver album.  They typically entered arenas to an instrumental version, but the version with lyrics and the song’s music video are so deliciously ‘80s that they must be savored in their original brilliance.  If you’re anything like me, you’ll never forget the 8-bit version of the song which served as Ted DiBiase’s theme (Ted didn’t have entrance music in those days) in WWF Wrestlemania for the NES.  It would get stuck in your head for hours.

7. Goldberg

Storming onto the scene in a big way in the late 1990s (the twilight years of the Golden Age), Bill Goldberg had maybe the hottest stretch of months that any wrestler has ever had in the entire history of the wrestling business.  Crowds packed arenas and tuned in to Nitro week after week to watch this new phenom destroy his next victim and build his undefeated streak.  A large part of the Goldberg mystique was his entrance, complete with sparks flying and Bill snorting smoke out of his nose like a bull.  His theme had a distinctly military influence with all those drums pounding.  It got everyone in the arena psyched up and ready for battle.

6. Demolition

One of the greatest tag teams of the Golden Age, Demolition’s thundering “Pain & Destruction” was one of the heaviest, hardest rocking wrestling themes of all time.  Sung by rocker Rick Derringer, the track’s heavy drum sound, electric guitar and raspy vocals formed an intimidating soundtrack as the face-painted and spiked leather-clad Ax and Smash made their way to the ring.  Perhaps better yet were the foreboding lyrics—“Run and we’ll find you”, “There’s no place to hide”, “Pain and destruction is our middle name.”  Demolition looked like a cross between bad ass bikers and clowns from hell, and Deringer’s theme contributed to what every wrestling fan thought upon seeing them—“Wow, I wouldn’t want to mess with these guys…”

5. The Crow Sting

Probably my favorite WCW angle of all time, Stings journey from a blonde, happy-go-lucky babyface to a dark, silent, and mysterious figure of the shadows was a central storyline in 1997.  He’d appear in the rafters, wearing a trench coat and carrying a baseball bat, face completely expressionless.  Occasionally he’d come down from the rafters, lay out one wrestler or several, only to disappear again into the darkness—and he never said a word.  The enigmatic nature of the character was captivating, and fans couldn’t wait to finally get some answers on what had happened to Sting, what he was thinking and what he would do next.  When he finally did wrestle, Sting used this theme, which was a great fit for his character’s dark and mysterious persona.  It is a simple piece of music, but a perfect fit.

4. The Ultimate Warrior

Has there ever been a more fitting wrestling theme than the Warrior’s “Unstable”?  The pounding drum and blaring guitar form a simple but frenetic entrance theme, perfect for Warrior’s “sprint to the ring and shake the ropes” routine.  In recent years it has become common for fans to make fun of Warrior for (a) not being a great wrestler and (b) being a little bit crazy, but you can’t knock his success.  Crowds went wild for him and his gimmick was actually interesting.  The moment you heard those drums hit “DUN…DUN DUN DUN….” you knew you were going to be entertained. 

3. Hulk Hogan

You knew it was just a matter of time before we got to this, right?  Arguably the most iconic entrance theme in the history of wrestling “Real American” was the theme song of Hulkamania, a movement which took wrestling to heights it had never seen before and which created the business as we know it today.  The guitar work is great, but the lyrics are what make Real American special.  They nicely summed up what Hulkamania was all about—patriotism, courage, persistence, justice, and doing the right thing.  Like much of what Hulk said and did in those years, Real American gave Golden Age kids some values to believe in.

2. Jake the Snake

Jake Roberts was one of the best talkers in the history of the industry.  I tend to remember his work as a babyface (though he was a great heel too), feuding with the likes of Andre the Giant, Rick Rude and Ted DiBiase.  But Jake wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill good guy.  He had an edge, and a mystique—a sort of “dark charisma.”  His theme seems to capture that same essence.  It has a distinctly 80s sound, resembling something out of Miami Vice or even a slowed down version of the theme from Knight Rider, but with an element of mystery mixed in for good measure.  It was a great tune and a great fit for the Snake, who will go down in history as one of the greatest characters of all time.   

1. Mr. Perfect

A classic.  By the first note, everyone in the arena knew that Mr. Perfect was on his way to the ring—and therefore, that they were about to be treated to an excellent match.  The base drums and cymbals conjure up images of ancient Greece or Rome, perhaps the Gods and Goddesses.  It was an excellent fit for Mr. Perfect's gimmick—a man who was infallible and who possessed athletic ability beyond that of the mere mortal.  You might even say it was the Perfect theme song for the Perfect wrestler (yea, that was cliche but I had to do it).

Would love to hear from you about who we underrated, who overrated or who we missed altogether.  Leave a comment or tweet us @GoldenAge4Kids.

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