Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Opinion: Every WWE Theme Ranked - Part 2 or How I Still Have Too Much Time On My Hands


Before we get back to the business of subjective list making, I want to throw out a challenge, if you disagreed with my rankings here, please make your own list and send it to me. I know that so many of you had complaints (especially about my placement of Mark Henry. I'm right by the way. It's not a good song) about this but here's the thing, the sheer joy of list making is that everyone's list is probably going to be different and even if it's the same, it might be the same for different reasons. This isn't my way of antagonistically saying 'if you're so smart, why don't you teach the class then', this is my way of saying, please if you disagree with me, take the time to think about this and tell me why you disagree. Also, if you are Mojo Rawley and you have an issue with Part 1, know that you are the problem. And with that, list ahoy:

25. Sasha Banks Sky's The Limit by CFO$

Song - 8/10
Gimmick - 9/10

I want to like this theme more. The theme works so well, it’s much like Tye’s (which we’ll get to shortly) where it can be genuinely inspirational as a face and falsely egotistical as a heel but much like Sasha as a face, it can feel forced. The big chorus the more you listen to it seems cynical, like an attempt to craft a moment instead of one actually happening. The soaring melodies are really under-delivered with some thin guest vocals. I’m sure the song sounds a lot better coming out of the speakers of this Kubla-Khanian Pleasuredomes that the WWE perform in but from the home speaker system, it feels so close to the finished article but at the same time, lacking.

24. The Miz - I Came to Play by Downstait

Song - 8/10
Gimmick 9/10

 Awesome. Everything about the Miz is awesome. He wrestles awesome, he delivers awesome promos, his wife Maryse is awesome and his films are… most of the things about the Miz are awesome. His theme is nearly as awesome as he is. Now we can all sit around and just complain that his promo video for WrestleMania 27 gave him the perfect theme in Nas’ Hate Me Now but it’s for naught, The Miz will be stuck being awesome and that’s fine by me. Downstait have provided a lot of good theme work for WWE, it’s just a shame that a lot of their vocals aren’t quite as good as their instrumental.

23. Naomi: Amazing (Remix) by CFO$ ft. Naomi

Song - 9/10
Gimmick - 8/10

Before we begin, can someone define 'The Glow' for me? Is Naomi buzz marketing for the upcoming series on the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling? Either way club banger rave shit works better for her than 'I have a bum'. Amazing (Remix) is definitely a banger, it could actually be heard on a Friday night at Snobs (nice little plug for you Birmingham club guys and gals out there) and not be out of place in a way that a lot of WWE style covers can be. But seriously, what the fuck is the Glow?

22. The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson) - Southern Proud by CFO$



Song - 9/10
Gimmick - 8/10

The Revival are a pair of top guys, that much is not up for dispute today. Appropriately, ths is a pretty top theme. It’s a big old school song full of Southern Pride. Funnily enough again, it’s a theme for a team who are all about old school revival. And it’s called Southern Pride. Anyway, this song also happens to be really goofy, the lyrics are very, very silly including such highlights including ‘we got fists made of fire, and our neck all red’. It would almost be a parody if it didn’t treat itself so seriously and when it wants to, boy does it go hard but for the one time mechanics, you wish it would go harder. Song 8/10 Gimmick 10/10

21. Samoa Joe - Destroyer by CFO$

Song - 8/10
Gimmick - 10/10

Joe is a monster with a theme worthy of Gojira and friends with it’s opening horns giving way to a giant roar. Luckily not then giving way to a weird funky little bassline but to even bigger fuzzier bass stomping forward like a murderous boombox. This is undeniably spectacular and certainly does its job in selling Joe as a monster in a way that not even Scott Steiner could do before it but it can’t help but get a little stale after more than a minute of listening.

20. Tye Dillinger Ten by CFO$

Song - 8/10
Gimmick 10/10

He may be the perfect ten but he misses out on a perfect twenty here. Tye’s music has some grand synth horn work occasionally sounding almost like a brassier Muse and here’s the thing, the music works perfectly whether he’s Heel or Face, it’s either a big entrance for the most undervalued face on the roster or a grandiose entrance for the most braggadocious (Is that a word? Trump seems to think so. We said we weren’t discussing politics, Joe) person on the roster not named The Miz. Now, if only they could sort out the voiceover lady saying Ten to sound more fluidly worked into the mix because as it stands, it feels really separate. Picky, I know, but if he wants to be perfect…

19. Kevin Owens - Fight by CFO$

Song - 8/10
Gimmick - 10/10 

The prizefighter is possibly the best of the modern iterations of the 'big lad with a big theme' sub-genre with some lovely harmonics going on and a sound engineer who actually knows how to record drums which is a rare delight for the WWE. It also happens to be something that I’d imagine KO could make work for him should he turn face (Turn? Who am I Kidding? Team Kevin and Chris are this year’s biggest damn heroes). It's sadly another case of just needing something more to break that repetition to make it a classic which is something that ironically, I’m thinking is starting to get repetitive as a criticism.

18. Triple H: The Game by Motörhead




Song - 8/10
Gimmick - 10/10 

Crotch chops, water spray, joke about dichotomy between reputation of burying younger talent and also Dad of NXT raising a new generation, RIP Lemmy, something about Shawn Michaels, all that lovely stuff.

17. AJ Styles Phenomenal by CFO$

Song - 8/10 
Gimmick - 10/10

A phenomenal theme for a wrestler who’s talents match up to his moniker as the phenomenal one. A lovely slice of DMX-esque Southern-fried rap with some unique organ work underpinning some surprisingly unembarrassing rap verses. It also befits AJ’s status that it can slot into whatever mood Styles’ entrance is trying to set. It’s just a shame that the MC is placed so oddly in the mix (possibly not to clash with entrance announcers?) that it’s almost a faint annoyance. It’s just a few tweaks away from being perfect.

16. No Way Josè - No Way by CFO$

Song - 8/10 
Gimmick - 10/10 

Big, bold, ridiculous and insanely catchy, Josè's theme may well be the single-most earworm-worthy track on this list with its summer club vibes playing well with NWJ's signature style. Much like Bayley's theme, the song does suffer from repetition over repeated listens. Seriously, I get that they mostly make two minute songs that loop (sometimes one minute loops) but honestly, would it kill them to write a four minute song? Would it?

15. Chris Jericho - Break Down The Walls/Break The Walls Down by Adam Morenoff

Song - 8/10
Gimmick - 10/10 

At this point, there is no argument that WWE is just waiting for Jericho to retire to give him his Hall of Fame ring. Luckily for us, Jericho seems to have at least a couple more years in him if for no other reason than his entrance theme is still a corker. Hailing from the era when every theme it seems had to sound like Linkin Park took an early pass at it but this one works where many others didn’t (sorry to generate controversy but the D Generation X theme is not good. Not good at all). The best and worst thing about his theme is it still sounds the same to me as when we first heard it. It has a nice nostalgia to it that despite character changes, his music remains the same but maybe given a hint of millennial polish, the song would sound less creaky.

14. Bayley: Turn It Up by CFO$



Song - 8/10 
Gimmick - 10/10 

This song just is Bayley: it’s fun, infectious and even if you don’t like it, you can’t deny you don’t forget it. The theme is one of the purest pieces of pop music that CFO$ have ever produced with a big chorus that can make even the most jaded smark feel like they’re Izzy. The problem is, it’s just the chorus. Not all WWE songs need to have two verses and a bridge but it feels like it’s just a like they wrote the first thirty seconds then coasted over the other three and a half. That said, when it hits at Wrestle<ania and the towering tube men burst out, I defy anyone not to smile.

13. Gran Metalik - Metalico by CFO$

Song - 9/10 
Gimmick - 9/10 

I'm breaking my own rules as Gran is still clearing up some commitments to CMLL before he signs with WWE full-time but his theme is so fantastic that I had to throw it in here. It only loses points for being slightly less incredible than his CWC theme. But he’s Lucha as fuck, he’s also hardcore as fuck, the theme is LuchaCore as fuck. A lovely big slice of thundering guitars and rousing brass, I have nothing else to add but fuck yeah. If we take anything from today, it's more MariachiCore please.

12. The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper & Randy Orton) Live in Fear by Mark Crozer

Song - 9/10
Gimmick - 9/10

The Wyatt family’s theme is great. The Wyatt family’s entrance are great. Pretty much every member of the Wyatt family are great in the ring. So, why is it that I find myself unable to have this theme break the top 10? It’s not just that the New Orleans voodoo vibe loses some of its mystery and threat after seeing so many aimless ‘spoooky’ promos followed by losses for the team is it? I mean it would be really unfair of me to rate a theme lower just because they keep losing. Yet here we are, this is the laziest sentence I’m ever going to write but do you know why I’ve put The Wyatts here? Because I just don’t like their theme as much as the next eleven. That’s it, I can’t be bothered to explain further. Moving on.

11. Rich Swann: Around The World by CFO$

Song - 9/10 
Gimmick - 9/10 

- 'North, south, east and west, everybody know my name, and your daddy's gone but your momma's home, we can bring her we ain't got no shame'. 205 Live’s resident intergenerational family threesome expert has a bit of an old school funk vibe that says ‘we couldn’t pay for the rights to ‘All Night Long’ but we’re going to give you something good anyway’. And give him something good they did. The only major issue with his theme is that on recording it loses a little something that it gains from seeing Swann dance and lip sync it to the ring but still a good time had for all who can handle it.

10. TJ Perkins - Playing With Power by CFO$



Song - 9/10
Gimmick - 9/10 

Hey did you hear? TJP likes video games. He really likes them. So much he even wears some glasses now that are pixel shaped. He loves them so much he has chiptune music for his entrance and awkwardly slots video game phrases into conversation. Overkill. As much as many of us may find The Pixelisation of TJ Perkins to be faintly annoying, you can’t argue that the actual work done on his theme is rather superb sounding like an Anamanaguchi retooling of Dr. Wily’s theme so good that even Kenny Omega is probably jealous and who does Omega have to be jealous of? Basically no one else. He’s a perfect human being. But enough about Kenny Omega, well done on hitting it out of the park with another genre CFO$. Now let’s work on toning down those video game references, TJ. We get it.

9. Seth Rollins: Second Coming by CFO$

Song - 9/10
Gimmick - 9/10 

Seth Rollins is the new Shawn Michaels. Seth Rollins is the new Edge. Seth Rollins is the new CM Punk. Seth Rollins is the new everyone. Will anyone let Seth Rollins just be Seth freaking Rollins? At least his music doesn’t seem like an ‘ahem’ Second Coming of anyone else. The Architect’s music is a rollocking slice of hardcore brilliance with some deafening drums and guitars making for one of the most anthemic themes of the modern day. Mostly it’s let down by a lack of a personal touch, you could give this music to almost anyone on the roster and it would work for them. Not to say it isn’t great for Seth but it’s not as inseparable from him as some of the classics we’re about to get to.

8. Shane McMahon - Here Comes The Money by Naughty by Nature

Song - 9/10
Gimmick - 10/10

Here comes the money, and with it, a bloody great slice of prep rap. Shane’s theme is the most superbly naff piece of rap in the ‘E outside of, well, his sisters but bloody hell, it works. Hot Dad Shane is the guy that comes to the ring in a suit and trainers, he’s probably the dad that overcompensates on birthdays and tries to play his kid’s music in the car and sing along. He probably practices dabbing with TJ Perkins. But that’s just who he is, he’s not cool but when he embraces and owns his image, he’s great. Plus he is pure money. I mean sure, you get the feeling he probably likes Vince Vaughan movies but nobody, and very few themes’, is perfect.


7. Asuka The Future by CFO$

Song - 9/10
Gimmick - 10/10

Bear with me here because if you don’t think this theme isn’t utter brilliance, you’re fucking wrong. Just before we continue, go and stick on some King Crimson, maybe start with 21st Century Schizoid Man. Now listen to The Future again. DO you get it yet? Asuka is the Empress of Tomorrow powered by the prog swagger of King Crimson. Her song is an unstoppable beat of lurching guitar lines and convincing freakout solo work. In fact the only thing stopping this theme from making it further up the list is that it just fades out. I know that so many of the themes have just a fade out but such joyous guitar fuckery shouldn’t have to just fade away, it should burn out in an outro of such frivolous proportions that all who witness it makes grown men weep.

6. John Cena The Time Is Now by John Cena & Tha Trademark



Song - 9/10
Gimmick - 10/10

Love him or hate him, you can't deny everything about Cena has been so finely tuned that he is basically the master of his own iconography. Possibly because of the multiple Cena memes but this theme is as inseperable to Cena’s image as the hats that he loves to throw into the crowd. His theme also happens to be another one of those proper songs with a pop-rap vibe that many have tried to replicate but few have outdone with those massive rap horns laying over rarely bettered Jim Johnston breakbeat. Plus Cena can drop bars when he wants to.

5. The Brian Kendrick Man With A Plan by Christ Goulstone ft. Nick Walker

Song - 9/10
Gimmick - 10/10

The man with a plan seems to have shown that step one of his plan is have one of the greatest theme of all, damn, time. This also not counting that ‘Hey You’ and London & Kendrick’s ‘New Rockers’ were no slouches either. Great themes match their superstar’s personality but also their motion and the cocky sway of this song fits perfectly with the paradoxically smooth yet jagged movements of Kendrick. Plus, in response to my criticism of Jericho’s theme, for his current run it’s been given what sounds like a clean lick of paint making it sound more vital than ever. Sadly it just misses out on the next spot because it’s very good, great even but you know what it’s not? It’s not…

4. Bobby Roode Glorious Domination by CFO$

Song - 10/10
Gimmick - 9/10 

GLORIOUS. You knew it was coming eventually but there was no way that a piece of music as glorious as Glorious Domination wouldn’t…dominate. Look, we all know how good this one is, it’s stupidly good, it’s brilliant, it’s GLORIOUS. I’ve not got any other compliments for this, I  mean, how could you not? It’s a big dumb theme for a loveable babyface not the sound of acould tell you about how it expertly merges Muse pastiche choruses with speed metal bridges but all you really want is for me to keep typing GLORIOUS in capital letters. Now you may note a 9/10 up there, do you know why? It’s because you keep cheering for him, I dastardly heel, it’s impossible to boo the entrance of a man with that theme. That said, it’s a minor complaint for one of the crowning glories of humanity. Bobby Roode’s not bad either.

3. Finn Balor Catch Your Breath by CFO$

Song - 10/10
Gimmick - 10/10

Here we are, the top three. I’m quite pleased to say that three songs have gained full marks from me and none had less than a 6/20. I think it says quite a bit to the positive of Johnston and CFO$ that so many pieces rank so highly and so few particularly low. Or maybe it just says I’m a nice person who doesn’t criticize too heavily. On that note, fuck Mojo Rawley. I digress, having been given time to Catch Your Breath (groan), let’s discuss the joyous surprise of Finn Balor. I know that Finn had a storied history in his Prince Devitt days but rarely have even in the Indie buyout world of modern NXT, have WWE managed to gather an essentially finished package as there is Balor and complimented by a theme to befit both Balor Club and the Demon. There’s a lot to be said for the link between music and movement in the WWE and when you hear the grandiose orchestral sorcery, you can begin to imagine the very movements of Balor. It’s impressive as well that without any lyrics, there is storytelling and progression in the music itself which unites itself with Balor, possibly the finest storyteller in the WWE. I feel that this theme could become iconic. Move over Bray Wyatt, I think it’s clear who the new Undertaker is. And not just because they both have ten minute entrances. Plus, I think the 10/10 makes this clear, it’s bloody mega song-craft on top of all that.

2. Sami Zayn: Worlds Apart by CFO$



Song - 10/10
Gimmick 10/10

I want you all to consider quite how perfect everything is about Sami Zayn’s theme. Zayn is known as "The Underdog from the Underground", he is someone that everything about his image is based on being undervalued. Now also consider that he enters to a classic slice of Ska Punk, Ska and Punk are traditional sounds of the rebels, the underground burnouts, the kids in the skate park going nowhere fast because they’re undervalued. Ska Punk itself is a tragically un-loved subgenre, especially in comparison to its pure Ska dad, but frankly if you can’t handle me at my Mighty Mighty Bosstones, you don’t deserve me at my Operation Ivy. It helps that Zayn is a self-confessed Skanatic but even if  Rami Sebei absolutely hated it, it makes perfect sense as a sonic representation of Zayn the character. It also helps that it is a great big face-wide smile, skanking till the break of dawn masterpiece of soaring ‘whoahs’, chugging horns and a lovely running bass line. It's not just good, not just great, it's 'Worlds Apart' from the rest (I'm so sorry, I swear I'll stop).


1. Shinsuke Nakamura The Rising Sun by CFO$

Song - 10/10
Gimmick 10/10

I know, you're all shocked that this is number one but you know what, (just to link back to my very first article for ATPW) sometimes the most predictable finish can also be the most logical one. When WWE announced earlier this year they were bringing in Nakamura, many couldn't believe it would go aswell as it did in that he is so far from traditional WWE style. When people ask how does he pull off his finisher without just kneeing the guy in the head, the answer is he just knees the guy in the head. Hulk Hogan was not strong Style. But here's why his theme worked so well, Nakamura is nothing like anyone else in the 'E, not even fellow Japanese Wrestling imports like Itami, Asuka or Balor. His music is also like nothing else CFO$ have produced. Instead of adjusting to NXT, he's made the entire company step their game up for him. Step up, indeed they did. Creating a maelstrom of strings, scattering trip hop beats and just an undercurrent of jagged guitars, it's a beautiful symphony but also a brutal, destructive one. It's a royal march worthy of our ruling monarch of strong style. Long live the king. Yeaoh.

....

(Editor's Note - Admit it, you thought I wouldn't include the video to the #1 song... #YEAOH)





Words - Jozef Raczka (@NotJozefRaczka)
Media - James Marston (@IAmNotAlanDale)
Editor - James Marston

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