Changing it up a bit today, both style and “sport”. That’s right we’re talking professional wrestling. Now, some would argue it’s not a sport. And they are very right. But three things: 1) Hey it’s on the list of sports on the ESPN app. 2) You try growing up a boy in the 90s and not getting wrapped up in television’s greatest sports opera. And 3) I’m gonna do what I want.
Let’s be honest, over half of the entertainment in wrestling comes from things that are not actually wrestling-related. The interviews, the backstage *drama* and most importantly, the theme songs. Wrestler entrance themes could make or break a character, at least in my world, and were something I thought should be applied to all sports. You act like it wouldn’t have been exciting to see Tiger Woods come out to some Jay-Z in his prime?
It’s with this in mind I have today’s entry. The Internet loves a list. And I’m a man of the people so I’ll give the people what they want even if it’s something they never really asked for. As a self-anointed authority on wrestler theme songs we’re going to go through the DEFINITIVE Top 10 wrestler entrance themes of the 1990s. Songs are rated on arbitra…I mean precise analytic tools I have developed such as originality, staying power and “Hypeness”. Like I said, DEFINITIVE. This ain’t no guess, this is what it’s gonna be. Let’s get to it.
Honorable Mention (in no particular order): Macho Man Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior, Roddy Piper, Ted Dibiase, Razor Ramon, Diamond Dallas Page, Big Boss Man, Harlem Heat
10. Ric Flair
Really just giving credit for WOOOOO here because of its cultural significance. It’s kind of like the Seinfeld Helloooooo for me. Love it one minute, want it go away forever the next and then cycling right back. It’d be interesting to see if more people related this music to Ric Flair or its origin in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Eh, when in doubt go with wrasslin.
Most Memorable Ric Flair Moment: I will forever associate WOOOOO from one of Flair’s appearances after a match in the early 90’s when he was covered in blood. The whole moment didn’t so much frighten me but obviously left an indelible mark that probably desensitized me to violence, as was the cool thing to do for 90’s children. Nope, no problems at all.
9. Shawn Michaels
I kind of always thought the song was overrated but hey, credit to Michaels for talking/singing(?) over the track. I wonder how many takes it took in the sound studio to repeat lines like “Hands off the merchandise.” Also a fake sweet chin music always holds up in a fun party setting.
Most Memorable Shawn Michaels Moment: As one the primary stars of the 90’s there are many but on a personal level it’d be when me and my friends Kyle and Corey saw Michaels come back from a long hiatus at Monday Night Raw in Columbus, OH in November 1998.
Some background on how we ended up there. A few months before, they hosted a wrestling night at the Marion County Fairgrounds Coliseum, another beautiful relic for all your event needs. Of course we attended.
It went about how you would expect any local wrestling event to occur. The main event was Greg “The Hammer Valentine” (or the villain from Goonies) against one of the members of the Nasty Boys (the one that was always on “Hogan Knows Best”).
So Valentine knocks out the Nasty Boy by some questionable means because, well, it’s a wrestling match. This doesn’t fly in Marion, Ohio though. A man’s honor must always be defended so one gentleman from the crowd decided to enter the ring to attempt to right this wrong. Given that he was you know, trespassing, the wrestlers proceeded to stomp him. Marion’s Finest entered the fray to retrieve said gentleman and to the wrestlers’ credit they continued with the match.
Fast forward a few months later and they were planning to hold another wrestling event in Marion. We were all set to go again only this time there were multiple reported bomb threats. Rumors flew it was from the guy who entered the ring although that was in all likelihood straight malarkey. Our parents were still alarmed anyway and said we couldn’t go. HOWEVAH, as part of the deal they promised to take us to the upcoming Monday Night Raw in Columbus. Kyle’s dad Brent drew the short straw to accompany us that evening, God bless him for putting up with 3 pre-teen boys obsessed with wrestling and freaking out at the sight of every wrestler from 300 feet away.
8. Bret Hart
Hart will always be deducted points for spelling Bret the wrong way. Why go with a single when you can double down? However, credit to him for having a song that perfectly translated to any shoddy 90’s video game system. I was also always admittedly jealous of those punk kids that got his glasses before his matches. They’re already sitting front row they don’t need party favors too.
Most Memorable Bret Hart Moment: Outside of any of his matches, probably the rhyme my dad would recite every time Bret Hart was mentioned in our household:
“Bret Hart, sat on a cart, let a fart, and blew it apart.”
I mean, you try telling me you wouldn’t be shakin’ in your boots when the lights go out, this music goes on and the Big Red Machine comes stomping your way. I remember genuinely thinking that Kane was badly burnt under that mask and costume, full credit to WWE for the sales job on this one.
Most Memorable Kane Moment: Many years later, still being able to yell out “IT’S KANE, IT’S KANE” any time the lights/power go out somewhere. Sometimes I’m with people that get it, many times not.
6. D Generation X
Now we’re into some classics. Shawn Michaels makes his second appearance and as evidenced by the ranking, the better iteration. This was perfect timing for them as it came out right around the Rage Against the Machine peak so it was right in that wheelhouse. Looking back now the video is pretty hilarious as it’s basically a Chris Fitzpatrick video.
Most Memorable D Generation X Moment: When WWF was running hot they used to release extra VHS tapes as us fans would seek out as much precious #content as possible. The D Generation X video was pretty genuinely funny and hey, available on fancy DVD now! Also, shout out to any 4th-6th grade teacher that had to put up with a never ending army of pre-teen boys imitating this. God bless you as well.
A bit of an upset here, admittedly but hey, Goldberg was always started from the bottom now we’re here. You’ll notice this list is pretty WWF heavy because most WCW themes were trash, yeah I said it. But Goldberg scores big points on hypeness, eventually to the point of the dramatic walkout surrounded by fake law enforcement officers.
Most Memorable Goldberg Moment: Goldberg had some of the best signature moves with the spear and jackhammer but my favorite is probably my aforementioned friend Corey finding his old 6th grade journal and turning to one random Tuesday entry that read “Watched Raw and Nitro last night. Goldberg is 157-0. He is getting boring.” Say no more.
4. The Undertaker
The definition of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The Undertaker was definitely frightening to me growing up, like the time I thought he legitimately murdered the Ultimate Warrior and placed him in a casket.
But hey Taker was Taker. All good things must come to an end though, and I can distinctly remember saying “Ehhh maybe I’m not about this wrasslin life” when they introduced the Kid Rock American Badass version of Undertaker.
Of course he eventually went back to the original theme, can’t believe he sullied the Kid Rock name.
Most Memorable Undertaker Moment: Actually one that has nothing to do with wrestling at all. Most remember LeBron wearing an Undertaker shirt in California after the Cavs went down 3-1 in the 2016 Finals.
The Cavs win Game 5 and send the series back to Cleveland. I was fortunate enough to attend Game 6 and the arena is nearly full as the Cavs are about to come out for warmups. The countdown starts and the music in the arena slowly comes to a crescendo. BAH GAWD THAT’S TAKER’S MUSIC. Ultimately very silly but dammit if it didn’t work to get me worked up. It got a little weird when Undertaker showed up to try and meet LeBron and some of the other Cavs this year but hey we’ll always have Game 6.
3. The Rock
A theme that will get you strutting around the room like you’re Jose Ramirez. Also a song dedicated to The Rock’s mic skills with its random interjections of some of his catch phrases. The Rock’s mic skills in comparison to the rest of the WWF was on Secretariat against the field level. I hope to have President Rock deliver my eulogy.
Most Memorable Rock Moment: Also some great signature moves with The People’s Elbow and Rock Bottom, but going to go with the Eyebrow. We even almost got it at this year’s Oscars!
2. Stone Cold Steve Austin
I mean who’s ever idea it was to be like “What if we put some earsplitting broken glass at the beginning?” should be retired living off their millions in the Cayman Islands.
Another example of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, I saw they tried to put out a Disturbed version of this, which is like if they replaced the Chicago Bulls theme with “What Does the Fox Say”. But hey, you gotta focus on the positive, and this theme is perfect for anytime you need to walk down the street struttin’ and cussin’ at anything that comes close, windswept plastic bags and stray squirrels included.
Most Memorable Stone Cold Moment: I’m of the belief the Stone Cold Stunner should be enshrined in the Smithsonian in some form, how that is I’ll leave up to the scientists. From Santa to Trump just about everyone has been on the receiving end of a stunner. I’ve even employed it into high school English presentations to Oktoberfest celebrations, it’s fun for the whole family. Shoutout to DJ Byrnes, who keeps this classic clip in regular rotation, where Stone Cold dishes out a total of 7 stunners and sends announcer Jim Ross into a string of exclamations such as “HE’S PARTING THE RED SEA” and “STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN IS STRIKING ANYTHING THAT BY GOD MOVES”
So yeah I figured it out, just project that clip on a continuous loop in the Smithsonian American History Museum.
1. Hulk/Hollywood Hogan
First with Real American, which should at least get secondary national anthem status. A top tier workout song and additionally, written and performed by Rick Derringer. Who you might remember from The McCoys. Who you might remember from the state rock song of Ohio, “Hang on Sloopy”.
That would seem to be enough to call it a career so why are you having to go carry a loaded pistol on a Delta flight, Rick?
Adding Voodoo Child would seem to go against my If it Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It Theorem but with Hogan’s heel turn you kind of couldn’t keep going with the Real American theme and Hogan turns right around and delivers a gem. It’s this that makes him number one, just uh these last 10 years or so, not so good for the Hulkster.
Most Memorable Hogan Moment: Hard to really pinpoint one specific moment so we’ll just go back to how my dad continually tortured us Gates boys. Growing up we collected just about every little wrestling figurine we could get our hands on, because boys. We had this Hogan figurine of him “hulking up”
At some point Hogan lost one of his arms and obviously devastated us. So of course every time my dad would see us playing with wrestlers after that moment he would come up to us and go “Hey where’s Hogan?” and then imitate the hulking move with one arm behind his back while humming Real American. This pissed us off to no end and usually resulted in someone in tears. Memmmmmmmories.