This article was inspired by an argument that I wasn't involved in. In that argument, the bone of contention was that the only good thing about current WWE Intercontinental Champion Drew McIntyre was his admittedly excellent theme song.
Theme songs are the most integral part of a wrestler's character. Heels have a way to draw guaranteed heat: play the face's theme and come out mocking them. But you can't overuse it.
Anyway, I did some thinking, and polling of some of my friends, and I came up with 34 themes that absolutely A) match the character, B) are memorable and C) are fun to listen to. But before I start the list, five rules:
1: No altered versions of songs. Kurt Angle's "I Don't Suck" is a prime example of what I mean, and is DQ'd from this comp.
2: No mashups. This means no Rated RKO.
3: All songs were considered, including the ones from little-heard CD's. Thus, if you disagree with anything here, let me know. I am being completely unbiased here, as you will notice a few songs from wrestlers I dislike.
4: No Commercialized-first songs. This means ABA by Kid Rock, Rollin by Limp Bizkit, and Voodoo Chile by Jimi Hendrix are all DQ'd. Each song will have wrestler, corporation, and game or CD where it can be found.
5: Multiple themes from the same wrestler were considered. At the end, I'll have the honorable mention section. So, let's go to it:
34: Undertaker Ministry Theme (Undertaker, WWF/E, WM 2000, also known as Undertaker 13)
Near the end of Satanic Undertaker's run in the WWE, UT's last SU theme appeared in WM 2000.
Unlike the earlier version seen in WWF Attitude, this one was constant, avoiding the seemingly hopeful rises in the theme. It also completely matched UT at that time, slowed down to a dangerous crawl. (First of four Undertaker appearances )
33: The Holly Theme (Hardcore and Crash Holly, WWF/E WWF No Mercy)
There was once a time, for the younger among us, that WWE cared about tag team wrestling. The golden age of Tag Team Wrestling was the late-90's/early 00's. You had: E&C, The Hardyz, the Dudley Boyz.
And this underrated tag team, whose early gimmick was that Crash wanted to be a super heavyweight. But they could entertain, and they were a REAL tag team.
Today's WWE doesn't understand how tag-teams actually work, while TNA is only slightly better.
32: Big Red Machine (Tha Eastsidaz, WWF, WWF Aggression)
"Psychotic, offa chronic, mixed with rage and lust, stompin' all opposition til they brains is smushed..."
WWF put out a rap album of their themes called WWF Aggression. In it, they had appearances by artists such as Method Man, Run-DMC, and Ice-T.
But it was this underrated little gem, designed for but never used by Masked Kane, that was one of the standouts on this album. In fact, there were only three duds on this entire album, and two of them were by the artists listed above.
Speaking of Masked Kane, this song would have matched him perfectly, because this would have been about the middle of his Big Red Monster period. Sadly, not too many people heard this CD, and it's too bad, because it was an excellent track.
31: Mr. Perfect Theme (Mr. Perfect, WWF)
Curt Hennig was a prime example of someone who could have been much bigger and better had the egos at the top of the card not completely changed the course of wrestling history.
The newest fans probably don't even know Curt Hennig's name, while the newer ones remember him only as a member of the nWo and the leader of the West Texas Rednecks.
When he was Mr. Perfect, however, older fans such as myself grew to revere him. An excellent technical wrestler, his was a theme that, tucked in among the Roddy Piper bagpipes and Hogan's hokey "Real American" didn't get the recognition it deserved.
30: Harlem Heat Theme/Can You Dig It? (Harlem Heat, WCW, Booker T, WWF/E)
Booker T and Stevie Ray were not part of the golden age of tag team wrestling, what with Eric Bischoff making a foolish decision to break the team up just before the age arrived.
They're remembered as an ancestor of the great tag teams rather than a historically great tag team themselves, which kind of sucks.
Booker T was the more charismatic of the two (and had main-event potential even then), while Stevie Ray was just straight power.
Booker later got the theme back (after some weird Leave It To Beaver sojourn best forgotten) just in time for his move to the top of the cards, where he's been ever since.
When you listen to the Harlem Heat theme, you get two things: one, a reminder of the time when Booker T was not horrendous on the microphone, and two, a reminder that before Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo drove WCW straight into the ground at 170 mph, everyone outside of the nWo meant something.
29: Basic Thuganomics (John Cena, WWE)
John Cena's rapper gimmick was a winner. When Cena at a Halloween party freestyled for Stephanie McMahon-Levesque, he completely changed the trajectory of his stellar career.
There'd never been a gimmick like his attempted in the WWE, and in short order, John Cena was a cool heel.
The current John Cena, whom I like, wouldn't go with Basic Thuganomics. He wouldn't even pretend to.
And Cena lived up to his billing, eventually winning fans before his face turn. Hearing Basic Thuganomics is kind of an anomaly. (first of two John Cena appearances )
28: Hardyz Theme (Matt and Jeff Hardy, WWF/E, WWF No Mercy)
Team Extreme. Those words immediately mean something to Attitude-Era WWF/E fans. Jeff Hardy couldn't wrestle, which nominally should have made him the weak link in the tag team.
But Hardy's charisma and fearlessness won over fans more and more, until Matt Hardy began to feel like his contribution was negligible at best. The thing is, Matt Hardy was the better wrestler.
But some fans are a different breed. Hearing this song usually meant you were going to see a fun match, even with one of Botchamania's icons in it.
27: Dead Man (Undertaker, WWE, WWE Smackdown, SYM)
As I've always asserted, heel ABA Undertaker was amazing despite the worst wrestler award he won. When UT went heel and won the Undisputed title from Hulk Hogan (Let's not ask, people, huh?) this was the theme he used.
Being a wrestler is more than wrestling (unless you're Chris Benoit, and Benoit was such an amazing wrestler that he could conquer his supposed lack of charisma.) It''s also about the environment you create around you.
UT was particularly vicious during this time, as he introduced the Chair Guillotine to the WWF/E, beat Arn Anderson bloody, decimated Rob Van Dam, and terrorized the entire face side of the WWE roster.
26: Medal (Kurt Angle, WWF/E, Every WWF/E game he was ever in)
For nearly his entire WWE run, Kurt Angle used "Medal" as his introduction to WWE wrestlers, fans, and the world in general.
It became easy to identify the American Hero just from the opening notes of the theme. Angle worked his ass off to get respect, and he earned it.
Medal was his calling card, and the fans knew it, chanting "You Suck" throughout the starting notes to each stanza. Angle enjoyed it immensely, as it meant he was getting over.
25: Self-High Five (Diamond Dallas Page, WCW)
Yes, it sounded like a Nirvana song (A certain song that the band grew to hate.) But Page shrugged this criticism off repeatedly, preferring the song, which he liked, to whatever crap WCW came up with (or as Chris Jericho referred to it, Basketball Highlights music.
WCW had no idea what they had with this Jersey Boy until it was too late. For them. The song was part of Page's immense charisma, and as such claimed the No. 25 spot on this list.
24: The Time Is Now (John Cena, WWE, SmackDown vs Raw series)
John Cena was well into his face turn when he realized he could not use Basic Thuganomics anymore. And Cena realized he could use his rapping ability to great results.
Thinking about it, Cena decided to go with "The Time is Now" as his self-penned theme, and it took off despite the best efforts of smark wrestling fans to mock it.
It's reached the point where no one can imagine Cena without it. And when he eventually goes heel, the song will still fit him perfectly.
23: Ministry-Meeno/Dame Grease (Undertaker, WWF, WWF Aggression)
"With precision, I made a decision; we gon' bury you alive, or on a milk carton missin..."
Yes, Undertaker never used this theme. Not once. But it counts, because it was his theme. Despite Undertaker's dislike of rap, this might actually be the best track on the CD.
Choosing a no-name to perform this theme may not seem like the best of ideas, but the track grabs you and refuses to let go.
22: Somebody's gonna get it-Triple Six Mafia (Mark Henry, WWE, Wreckless Intent)
Mark Henry has never been known for great wrestling or memorable theme songs. The Sexual Chocolate one I still have nightmares about.
But Henry's return to the WWE brought him this kickass rap theme that Henry is more than capable, both in kayfabe and out, of accomplishing. A theme that matches Henry perfectly will now be changed because I said I liked it.
21: Blood (The Brood, WWF, WWF Attitude)
What was it about The Brood that was so appealing? The whole "Vampire" thing? That they could wrestle? That two of them went on to be champions? I don't know. I know their Gothic theme was excellent.
As I said, wrestling is also about your environment. And these three set up a great environment, even masking the fact that the two great ones were being held down by Gangrel.
20: You're Gonna Pay (Undertaker, WWF/E, WWE SDVSRaw:HCTP)
Undertaker hit the ABA face peak with this theme. He had always been able to ride his bike down to the ring, with "Rollin" with "ABA" and with "Dead Man" but he hit an unreal level as the ABA part of his gimmick wore down little by little.
And of course, you can't disagree with the part of the song Jim Johnson goes with after what he says about nice guys finishing last.
19: War Machine (Taz, ECW, ECW Hardcore Revolution)
ECW fans revered Taz (And you can count me among that section.) Whenever a heel had the misfortune of facing Taz and was cutting a promo, to a man, the fans would chant "Taz is gonna kill you!" And more often than not, The Human Suplex Machine did.
But it all began with the opening riffs to his theme song. The ECW arena would erupt, the atmosphere would charge as if a sudden thunderstorm was about break out, and Taz would come out and begin destroying everyone who stood in his way.
18: The Rock Theme (The Rock, WWF, WWF No Mercy/Smackdown:SYM)
The WWE's icon for many years, The Rock's theme song brought blasts of cheers from the fans whenever they heard it. Hell, you'd hear "If ya sme-" and the rest of it would be drowned out immediately by the roar of the crowd.
The man was amazing, intense, and even turned jaded wrestling fans into complete marks. And these were people who had seen it all.
Think about it: How many wrestlers can say that the second your theme song began you had the crowd in the palm of your hand? Not many, that's for sure.
17: Original Batista Theme (Batista, WWE, WWE SDVSRAW:HCTP)
There may be no more polarizing figure among WWE smarks than Dave Batista. Before he was the charismatic hoss who wondered about the anger problems of basketballs, he was the powerbombing demon who Ric Flair was grooming for Evolution.
His was a theme song filled with barely concealed menace and a promise of pain. Before he walked a mile inside a pit of danger, his theme meant problems.
And before I close out part 1, a word: WWE/Yukes/whoever: In SD/RAW 2011, can you bring back the BGM's and make them old theme songs?
For sure I'd love to have Batista's theme back, because it's a badass song. Jim Johnston really should be getting paid millions. Really.