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AntheMania: Analyzing What Makes A Great Wrestling Entrance Theme

What makes a good wrestling entrance theme? Is it the opening note or riff, or the lyrics that hook you? Is it the performer that makes the song, or the song that makes the performer?

Entrance themes in pro wrestling have taken on more importance than ever, and more often than not, the right theme can make or break a performer. One of the earliest examples of a wrestling theme song affecting a performer’s trajectory can be found in the early 1980s and the “Real American” theme song that’s widely connected to Hulk Hogan.


Hogan’s WWF/WWE theme song is one of the reasons he skyrocketed to fame, but the song wasn’t actually written for him. “Real American” was first used by Mike Rotunda and Barry Windham, aka the ‘US Express’, while Hogan had adopted Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” due to his appearance in Rocky III. Windham and Rotunda ended up quitting the WWF and leaving for the NWA, but Hogan benefitted from the departure and gained a now iconic theme song.

WrestleZone spoke with Mike Rotunda, who said that hindsight would lead one to believe that he and Windham should have stayed with WWF, but they were “young and dumb” and it’s just circumstantial now.

“It comes up every once in a while. I don’t know if everybody was aware of that but Barry and I were young and dumb and we left, and then Hulk ended up getting the song,” Rotunda said. “So it’s just the way stuff works out and sometimes you’re right in making a move and sometimes you’re not. We really should have stayed there and kept going, at least for longer than we did but it was like I said we were young and dumb.

Today, themes are judged from the moment the first note or sound effect is heard in an arena, showing how important using sound to establish a character really is. Roman Reigns’ current theme song was the result of a months-long process, as The Tribal Chief himself explained that getting his new song right was of critical importance.

“We’re working on it,” Reigns told Bleacher Report‘s Graham Matthews. “It’s not easy because I’m not going to… With this character, it has to be the right vibe. We can’t just hire a rapper and check out this guitar riff. It can’t be some rock music. The Shield music, I wasn’t even really into it back in the day; but over the years, it just started working. You get so used to it that I just time my pace to it. But yeah, it takes some time and it has to be right. In order to move away from something you’ve had for so long and is so recognizable like the music that I have now, it’s got to be perfect. It’s taking some time, but we’re definitely working on it, so please be patient.”

Nostalgia has become more prevalent in recent years, and today’s wrestlers look to pay tribute to the past in their own respective ways, whether it’s ring gear, a pose, or even new renditions of popular entrance themes. Look no further than FTR’s new AEW theme, “Darkside Of TR”, which is a callback to the theme that the Midnight Express used in the ’80s. More recently, Liv Morgan said that she’d like to use Poppy’s cover of “All The Things She Said,” the song that was originally performed by t.A.T.u. and used as Victoria’s WWE theme song. Victoria (Lisa Marie Varon) said she’d be honored if it were to happen, and it’s just one example of an homage that means a lot to different generations.

WrestleZone asked some notable people involved in pro wrestling and music for their thoughts on what makes a memorable entrance theme.

Mikey Rukus, AEW’s main maestro:

– What do you look for in a wrestling theme song?

“There’s a lot to unpack in regards to this, but on the short version, I look at the overall presentation of an entrance and how the music ties into it. The knee jerk reaction is to think just the talent and the music. In the grand scheme I look at the talent, the lighting, the camera angles, the music, the connection to not just the crowd but the talent, how it all ties together for the fan experience and then what they remember from it after the fact.”

– What qualifies as an all-time great entrance theme song?

“My favorite is definitely The Brood Theme, it was a whole vibe. Low key, ominous, “brooding”. The entire presentation was perfect.”

Riju Dasgupta, SportsKeeda writer / Albatross and Primitiv bassist 

“I’ve always been partial to the more symphonic theme songs such as Sting’s WCW theme, Goldberg’s iconic theme, Kane’s legendary song, and here’s one out of left field – The Bludgeon Brothers theme. Generally, even though I’ve been a part of the metal world for years, I’m generally not a fan of the nu metal/metalcore theme songs that a lot of wrestlers choose to use.

“A great theme song is a mood. It complete’s the wrestler’s presentation. For example, ‘I’m Back’ and Bischoff’s trademark cocky smile tell a great story, as does the sight of Hogan playing the crowd when Real American plays. Sometimes the theme overshadows the wrestler, like Bobby Roode’s “Glorious”, and I don’t always know if that’s a good thing.”

Matt Koon, musician / composer of themes for FTR, Deonna Purrazzo 

“A wrestling theme should have one purpose: to enhance the character on the screen. A theme is the soundtrack to what you are looking at, and should not only be in harmony with that character, but amplify the character as much as a robe, a hairstyle, or a pose does visually.

“Music is a powerful medium and allows a unique opportunity for character enhancement, and it’s effectiveness is best reflected by the reaction of the audience. It doesn’t have to be a “great song” it just needs to tell the story in an entertaining way. Songs that I think meet these criteria in present-day wrestling would include those of Adam Cole, CM Punk, and Randy Orton. For me though, the best theme in wrestling today belongs to Asuka. The way the song contributes to her entrance, presence, and fan reaction is unparalleled in modern-day wrestling.