Music in professional wrestling
Music in professional wrestling serves a variety of purposes. The most common uses of music in professional wrestling is that of the entrance theme, a song or piece of instrumental music which plays as a performer approaches the ring. After a match, the entrance theme of the victor will normally be played as they exit the ring. Entrance themes are used to alert the audience to the immediate arrival of a wrestler, and to increase anticipation.
Usage as part of a gimmick
Entrance themes are often tailored to the gimmick of the wrestler they are written or selected for. For example, Jacob and Eli Blu (The Blu Brothers) had an entrance theme in the World Wrestling Federation that resembled a piece of Blues music, while The Undertaker has often used entrance themes which resemble a dirge and include the ringing of an eerie bell. In practice, modern day entrance themes are normally Rock, Rap, or R&B (especially for women), as these genres of music are popular with the professional wrestling key demographics.
Due to licensing costs, entrance themes are often composed by the promotion for which the wrestlers perform in order to avoid having to pay royalties. A promotion might also purchase music from production libraries, which is considered to be cheaper than the royalties of commercial music, or use public domain music, which is available for no fee. Due to less restrictive copyright laws in Mexico, Lucha libre promotions use mostly popular songs. In addition, ECW used popular music in order to promote a hip, edgy, counter-culture image. ECW owner Paul Heyman previously worked in the music industry, and used his contacts there to secure more affordable licensing deals for music. For example, ECW licensed Metallica's "Enter Sandman" for their performer, Sandman (Jim Fullington)– but only licensed the music for live events and broadcasts. On TV and DVD productions, the song was replaced by a cover version performed by Motörhead, which was significantly cheaper to license for distribution than the original. One common misconception about ECW's licensing habits occurs because often the original music can be heard on "fan-cam" tapes. Because ECW events were heavily traded via these bootleg-style "fan-cam" videos, it is often assumed that ECW didn't license their music, but in truth, all of ECW's official productions used properly licensed music.
The history of entrance themes is not clear, but Glen Stride is often cited as being the first wrestler to be accompanied to the ring by music. In the early 1950s, female champion Mildred Burke often entered to theme music, while Gorgeous George was associated with Pomp and Circumstance, a song which was later used regularly by Randy Savage. Sgt. Slaughter, who has sometimes claimed to have introduced the idea to Vincent J. McMahon, entered to the Marines' Hymn at a Madison Square Garden show in the 1970s. However, the practice did not become widespread until the 1980s, when the Fabulous Freebirds, Hulk Hogan, the Junkyard Dog and various World Class Championship Wrestling performers began using rock music for entrance themes.
Music is also used as a promotional tool during advertisements, video packages, and as the theme of television programs.
The following are composers known for composing numerous in-house theme songs for particular wrestling promotions:
- Jimmy Hart (composed music for the World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling)
- Michael Hayes (composed music for the World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling)
- Jim Johnston (composes music for World Wrestling Entertainment)
- Dale Oliver (composes music for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling)
- Harry Slash (composed music for Extreme Championship Wrestling)
- "The Greatest Wrestling Stars of the 80's". WWE. 2007-04-15. Retrieved 2007-04-15.
- Best WWE Theme Songs
- ECW music at the Wrestling Information Archive
- WWE music at the Wrestling Information Archive
- Custom Wrestling Theme Production