The No. 2 entry on our countdown of the most memorable themes in wrestling history actually started off as an homage to Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo, the U.S. Express. However, as Jesse Ventura so boldly stated at the end of the "Real American" track on The Wrestling Album, "I can't believe that's for Windham and Rotundo!"
You said it, Jess.
"Real American" wouldn't belong to the U.S. Express for long, fortunately, as destiny intervened, and a sweeping trend known as Hulkamania would steal the theme away in the wake of its mid-80s genesis.
Hulk Hogan, who had just recently become the biggest thing in wrestling, had gone through a few other themes before he settled on Rick Derringer's "Real American." Among those were Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger," the theme to Rocky III, in which Hogan played the part of the ultimate male, Thunderlips.
Later, the WWF produced their own song for Hogan, ever-so creatively titled "Hulk Hogan's Theme," which was also a track on The Wrestling Album.
Though both songs were fairly epic, neither would last, and Hogan would eventually settle on "Real American" as his theme song of choice. The U.S. Express were forgotten, much to the chagrin of Windham and Rotundo, and Hulkamania took over the entire wrestling scene for the better part of ten years.
Upon his exit from the WWF, Hogan would move on to the massive paychecks of WCW, where he used a Jimmy Hart-produced rip off, titled "American Made" during his red and yellow run with the company.
Following his shocking heel turn, and the formation of the nWo in 1996, Hogan would come out to the group's "Rockhouse" theme for a while, before Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile" took over as his singles music.
The two nWo-era themes were actually pretty fantastic, but neither was as instantly identifiable with Hulk Hogan as "Real American."
Oddly, after returning to WWE and splitting from the nWo, Hogan would still use "Voodoo Chile" for a while even though he was once again decked out in his trademark red and yellow. However, on the very fitting date of July 4, 2002, Hogan would once again enter the ring to "Real American," and crowds all over the country would rise to their feet.
I actually got a chance to see Hulk Hogan in person, when I traveled all the way to Boston for his SummerSlam 2006 match against Randy Orton, and the reaction he got when the opening chords to "Real American" blared over the speakers of the legendary Boston Gardens was simply phenomenal. I'd never before experienced that kind of mass electricity, and it's doubtful that I ever will again.
Simply put, Hulk Hogan coming out to "Real American" is something that could bring a paralyzed person to their feet.
"When it comes crashin' down, and it hurts inside, you gotta take a stand, it don't help to hide. If you hurt my friends, then you hurt my pride. I gotta be a man, I can't let it slide. I am a real American. Fight for the rights of every man. I am a real American. Fight for what's right, fight for your life!"