Hulk Hogan: "Real American" and the 25 Most Iconic Theme Songs in WWE History
Last week, right here at Bleacher Report, I took a detailed look at the six lamest theme songs in the history of sports entertainment. The countdown ran through such ridiculous themes as The Big Boss Man's "Hard Time," and Dustin Rhodes' "The Natural," among others.
In the top spot, which wound up being just a bit controversial, was Shawn Michaels' iconic "Sexy Boy" theme.
Several thousand views, and almost a hundred comments later, this writer has decided to compile one more list of historic wrestling entrance music.
This time, by popular demand, the countdown has been extended to 25 spots. Also, rather than listing only the lamest theme songs in wrestling, we're going to walk through the most memorable.
Whether it be due to historical significance, quality of composition, or like last week's list, how unforgettably lame a song was, we're going to take a stroll down memory lane with the 25 most memorable theme songs in the storied history of World Wrestling Entertainment.
Organizations which do not fall under the WWE umbrella (WWF/WWE, WCW, ECW, etc.) have been left out simply because, if they weren't, there would be too many songs to name.
Let's get started, shall we, with the No. 25 spot...
25. The Honky Tonk Man: "Cool, Cocky, Bad"
Kicking off the countdown at No. 25 is the greatest Intercontinental champion of all time, and everybody's favorite wrestling Elvis impersonator, The Honky Tonk Man.
In the 1980s, there was no bigger heel in wrestling than The Honky Tonk Man.
In stark contrast, when he first began his career with the World Wrestling Federation, Honky was cast as a face character. Amazingly enough, few wrestling fans cared to cheer for a wrestler who dressed up like Elvis Presley. As result, Honky was turned heel rather quickly, and embarked upon one of the most storied careers in professional wrestling.
Feuds with "Macho Man" Randy Savage, The Hart Foundation and Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, among others, led The Honky Tonk Man to what is still the longest Intercontinental title run ever, and his place in the memory of any longtime wrestling fan.
His theme song, "Cool, Cocky, Bad" was one of the few instances where a gimmick theme really clicked. The fact that he was the man behind the microphone (true), and alleged to be the man playing the guitar (false) riled up fans across the globe to the point where all they had to hear were the opening licks to fill the arena with a chorus of boos.
Whether you love him or hate him, The Honky Tonk Man is one of the most memorable characters ever in wrestling, and his theme music was no small part of that accomplishment.
"I pick a mean guitar, I wear blue suede shoes, you ought to hear me sing the snakeskin blues. I'm just a Honky Tonk Man. (He's a Honky Tonk Man.) I'm just a Honky Tonk Man. (He's a Honky Tonk Man.) I'm just a Honky Tonk Man, I'm cool, I'm cocky, I'm bad."
24. The Steiner Brothers: "Steinerized"
Though their careers split in the mid-90s, the team of Rick and Scott, the Steiner Brothers, was one of the most dominant forces in the later days of the National Wrestling Alliance. They also helped kick-start the early days of World Championship Wrestling.
Back when most tag teams had some sort of outrageous premise behind their existence, the Steiner Brothers had the most basic gimmick in wrestling: they were wrestlers. Coming into the world of professional wrestling directly from the collegiate ranks at the University of Michigan, the Steiners quickly etched their place among the legendary ranks of their tag team peers.
While they eventually made their way to the WWF around 1993, it was their stints in WCW where the Steiners really made their mark.
Aside from being one of the greatest tag teams ever, the Steiners also had some of the most hilariously bad theme music ever as well. Coming off of the start-to-finish awful WCW Slam Jam album, "Steinerized" remained the Steiner Brothers' theme song for the duration of their tag team careers.
The Steiners had some sort of collegiate fight song theme in WWF, and they also had their own individual theme songs that were terrible in their own right, but none of those themes featured the brilliance that was the lyrics to "Steinerized." It is for this reason that Rick and Scott enter this countdown solely as a WCW tag team.
"Here's the story of two brothers, Rick and Scott. They don't do drugs, and they're always on top."
23. Dusty Rhodes: "Common Man"
Say what you will about Dusty Rhodes' venture into the untested waters that was the late-80s WWF, he certainly made the most of it, not to mention the fact that he got himself a rather awesome theme song for his efforts.
After spending nearly his entire career working for the NWA and WCW, Rhodes left his southern-based comfort zones during his pursuit of the "big time" WWF in 1989. Rhodes rose to international fame as multiple-time world champion, "The American Dream," during the 70s and 80s. Most people figured he'd continue right along the same path when he made his WWF debut.
As we all saw, that couldn't have been further from the truth.
While Rhodes was still known as "The American Dream," he was given the additional moniker of "The Common Man," upon arriving in the WWF. Sporting yellow and black polka dots, and being accompanied to the ring by "Sweet" Sapphire (the "Common Woman"), Rhodes was more of a comedy act than anything else.
In spite of his mildly humiliating new routine, Rhodes still became one of the most popular wrestlers in the WWF, most notably feuding with "Macho King" Randy Savage and "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase during his two-year tenure with the company. He would eventually leave the WWF in 1991, marking the end of his career as a full-time wrestler.
He would go on to become a commentator in WCW, a part-time wrestler for ECW (believe it or not), and he also ran several independent promotions prior to returning to the now-WWE as a well respected road agent.
Still, any time Rhodes appears on WWE television, "Common Man" is sure to blare over the loudspeakers. Regardless of his age, physical appearance, and his lack of any real purpose in today's wrestling world, crowds still come alive when they hear the words, "Amer-i-can... Dream," come over the sound system.
"American Dream. He's just a common man, workin' hard with his hands. He's just a common man, workin' hard for the man. Hey, he's American Dream. Hey, he's American Dream."
22. Kurt Angle: "I Don't Suck"
In 1999, Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle, made his debut with the WWF. Most fans doubted that a decorated amateur wrestler such as Angle would be able to successfully make the switch over to the world of sports entertainment.
While he obviously had the athletic skill to compete in the ring, they figured, it was doubtful that he would be able to bring any sort of interesting character to the table.
My, how wrong that turned out to be.
Not long after his debut, Angle was the hottest heel in wrestling. Using his accomplishments as an Olympic wrestler as a basis for his braggadocious ways, Angle quickly drew the ire of any wrestling fan within earshot.
His theme song, which originally belonged to "The Patriot" Del Wilkes, somehow fit his gimmick to the letter. It was a song the crowd eventually wound up having a great deal of fun with, chanting "You Suck" to the tune of Angle's instrumental song.
Angle would wind up leaving McMahonland following a prescription drug scare in 2006, going on to become the biggest coup in TNA history by signing with the struggling promotion. Regardless of his personal demons, Kurt Angle is still to this day one of the best in-ring performers in all of wrestling, and he still has the ability to evolve his character to fit with the times.
His WWF/WWE theme music, however, remains one of the most recognizable entrance songs in the history of sports entertainment. If he were to make a surprise appearance tomorrow, the fans would still know his music, they'd still chant "You Suck," and it would be like he never left in the first place.
That's how you know you've got a winner.
"You suck! What? You suck! What? You suck! What?"
21. Mankind/Mick Foley: "Wreck"
Few wrestlers can say they've reached main event status with more than one gimmick. Mick Foley, on the other hand, can honestly say that he's reached the top with four of them.
As Cactus Jack, Foley had marginal success in early 90s WCW, and developed a cult following in Japan for his participation in barbaric death matches. Sporadically appearing for WWE as late as 2006, Cactus Jack is never far from the main event.
Mankind, his original gimmick with WWE (then the WWF), gave him his first major championship when he defeated The Rock to become WWF Champion in 1998. The character saw many major changes from its first iteration, but the spirit of the gimmick was always the same: crazy, yet lovable.
Dude Love, which was Foley's imaginary name during his days as a backyard wrestler, came to fruition as a result of his dealings with the demonic Mr. McMahon character. Even as a joke character, Foley was in several main event matches against "Stone Cold" Steve Austin during the Attitude Era.
Finally, competing under his real name, Mick Foley was able to compete in several main events leading up to his "retirement" in 2000. Of course, he's competed in numerous matches since that time, but that was when he stopped working a full schedule.
Since the late 90s, aside from when he was playing Dude Love and his brief stint in TNA, his theme song has always remained the same. The iconic car crash, followed by your standard three-chord guitar progression.
As simple as it may be, the song never fails to wake up a live audience.
"Have a nice day!"
20. New Age Outlaws: "Oh You Didn't Know?"
"The Road Dogg" Jesse James and "Bad Ass" Billy Gunn, the New Age Outlaws, were arguably the hottest tag team during the WWF's Attitude era. In a time when edgy promos and hardcore matches were the norm, the Outlaws brought enough of both to the table to make a spot for themselves in a list of the greatest tag teams ever.
It's not their in-ring talents, nor promo skills, that we're here to talk about, however. It's their theme music.
Taken simply as the song they entered the ring to, there isn't very much to remember about the Outlaws' theme. It's a rather generic sounding rock guitar instrumental. Nothing more, nothing less. Well, unless you count the fact that the opening riffs were lifted directly from "The Cure" by Metallica.
We're not going to count that, for those wondering.
Yes, the instrumental itself was pretty ordinary. The song alone would certainly not warrant a place on our countdown. The entrance promo which accompanied the song, on the other hand, puts it in the top 20. As soon as you heard that opening guitar lick, you knew what was coming next: "Oh you didn't know? Yo' ass better call somebody!"
The Road Dogg made that shtick work, and the pause after that first guitar lick allowed him the perfect amount of time to belt out his words before the meat of the song kicked in. The combination of the song and the mic work was something that immediately gained the Outlaws a huge fanbase, and its something that none of them will likely ever forget.
"Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages. D-Generation X proudly brings to you the WWF Tag Team Champions of the World! 'The Road Dogg' Jesse James, 'The Bad Ass' Billy Gunn... the New... Age... Outlaws!!!"
19. Sting: "Man Called Sting"
Oh, WCW Slam Jam, how do you do it?
Coming from the absolute worst wrestling album of all time, "Man Called Sting" still somehow makes its way into the top 25 wrestling themes of all time. Amazing.
For a career as legendary as Sting's has been, it's almost laughable that this would be his most recognizable theme song. His awful TNA theme aside, Sting had actually a pretty cool instrumental song during his rookie years with the NWA, the epic "Crow" theme during the nWo invasion, and even Metallica's "Seek & Destroy" towards the end of WCW.
That's a pretty impressive list, and yet, it seems as if everyone still associates the Stinger with this theme song.
There are some things in the world of wrestling that simply can't be explained.
"He does this, he does that. He's big as a bull, and he's quick as a cat. He looks fine, he looks cool. He's his own man, and he's nobody's fool. Don't you go cross him, or get in his way, cause if you do you're gonna have to pay. He's the man called Sting."
18. Rob Van Dam: "Walk"
The lone ECW induction, Rob Van Dam makes it onto our list as No. 18 for his awesome Pantera-inspired theme song.
For some reason, in a company where nearly every wrestler had a mainstream song as their entrance theme, their biggest star came out to a cover song. Instead of simply coming out to Pantera's "Walk," Rob Van Dam entered the arena to a neutered version by Kilgore.
There were no verse lyrics, there was no guitar solo, there was only a loop of one man screaming the chorus of, "Re-spect! Walk! Whaddya Say?! Re-spect! Walk! Are ya talkin' to me?!" This was played over and over until RVD made it to the ring for his match.
It's awful to listen to by itself, but it totally worked in the ECW arena, and the huge pop proves it.
Unfortunately, a large portion of the mainstream wrestling fan base never got to see RVD come out to his original theme music. Instead, they got a bad WWE version, or god forbid, the even worse TNA theme song.
Whatever the case, for those who were lucky enough to see RVD in his prime, we'll never forget chanting "Re-spect" along with his music every single time he made an entrance. It was nothing short of epic while it lasted.
"Re-spect! Walk! Are you talkin' to me?! Are you talkin' to me?! Walk on home, boy!"
17. Kane: "Slow Chemical"
It's hard to believe, but Kane has been with WWE for almost 15 years now.
He debuted at Badd Blood, during the first-ever Hell in a Cell match between Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker (Kane's storyline brother), by costing the Dead Man what seemed to be certain victory. That was in 1997, and he's been the resident monster heel ever since.
His theme song, amazingly, has remained pretty much intact since the very first time we saw him.
Sure, there have been a few different versions of the theme, including "Slow Chemical," which is featured here. However, the first few notes have never changed. It is those first few notes which never fail to bring a crowd alive prior to Kane's entrance.
Through hellfire and brimstone, when Kane makes his way to the ring, everyone knows it. Over his 15 years playing the character, his music has become iconic, thus its placement on our list.
"The flame returns."
16. "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase: "It's All About the Money"
"The Million Dollar Man always gets his way."
Ted DiBiase began his career all the way back in the '70s as your typical face wrestler. He possessed a variety of in-ring skills, but his gimmick was nonexistent. In professional wrestling, that's a recipe for a rather short career.
Instead, DiBiase made his way to the WWF in the mid-80s, and was given the gimmick of a lifetime.
As "The Million Dollar Man," Ted DiBiase was the biggest heel in wrestling. His feuds with Hulk Hogan, Dusty Rhodes, and Virgil (yes, even Virgil) were the stuff of legend. As the man who claimed "everybody's got a price," DiBiase was able to draw ridiculous amounts of money due to the fact that every fan in the world wanted to see him get beaten up.
Adding to this fact was his outrageously arrogant theme song, "It's All About The Money."
DiBiase himself provided the lyrics to this legendary theme. Unlike most wrestler-sung themes, this one worked. It worked so well, in fact, that he still uses the song for his random WWE appearances to this day. The only difference is that, now, the crowds cheer him for being a legend of wrestling.
The song remains the same, as well it should.
"Some might cost a little, some might cost a lot, but I'm the Million Dollar Man, and you will be bought. MWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!"
15. CM Punk: "Cult of Personality"
Though he's only had this theme for a short time, within the WWE Universe at least, CM Punk's "Cult of Personality" is quickly becoming the most recognized song in wrestling today.
Of course, he did use the song in Ring of Honor and during his time on the independent circuit, but that alone wouldn't be enough to warrant a spot on the countdown. Had he stayed on the indy scene, most of the world would still be in the dark about Punk's career.
The fact that Vince McMahon thinks enough of CM Punk to shell out the licensing fee for a legitimate hit, albeit a 20-year-old song by a band who the current generation knows zero about, tells you a lot about how far Punk has come. On the current mainstream wrestling scene, there is no one hotter than CM Punk, and the changing of his theme song to "Cult of Personality" shows just that.
Unlike Spike Dudley, who we talked about earlier on the list, the lyrics to Punk's mainstream theme actually fit his character perfectly. With talk of conspiracies, power struggles and exploitation, it goes right along with the war Punk has waged against the "status quo" within WWE. The fact that it's called "Cult of Personality," works within his gimmick just as easily.
If CM Punk's career continues on the rocket ship course it's been on as of late, his theme song may go on to be placed higher on the Top 25s of the future. For right now, it's still a testament to how well Punk is doing that he made it this high on the list, and his future is only getting brighter.
"When a leader speaks, that leader dies. You won't have to follow me. Only you can set you free."
14. Chris Jericho: "Break the Walls Down"
The next song on our list is one of WWE's few attempts at a "real song" that actually worked. Chris Jericho's "Break The Walls Down" is one of the greatest entrance themes of all time.
After frustratingly being stuck in the mid-card of WCW for years, Jericho was finally released from his contract. Almost immediately thereafter, he made his WWF debut, interrupting a promo by The Rock.
You know the rest.
Prior to his debut in 1999, WWF programming featured a "Countdown to the Millennium" clock. Originally, it was thought by most to be just that: a countdown to the year 2000. However, if you actually figured up the time the clock would get to zero, it wound up being Aug. 9, 1999.
On that fateful episode of Raw, Chris Jericho made his first appearance in the WWF. His entrance featured the clocking hitting zero, and was accompanied by a song we'd never heard before.
Fast forward 12 years, and that theme song, "Break the Walls Down," is indelibly etched into our memories as Chris Jericho's legendary entrance music. He's been using at least some version of that music since his debut, and has never once come out to anything different.
What else could he come out to? Seriously.
"Break the walls down!"
13. Triple H: "The Game"
Triple H loves him some Motorhead.
In recent memory, he's come out to "King of Kings" by Motorhead, "Line in the Sand" by Motorhead, and his official theme song, "The Game" by Motorhead.
Yeah, I'd say that's a safe assumption to make.
Fortunately for the fans, Motorhead is pretty awesome. Not your average fly-by-night WWE theme band, Motorhead are seen by many as the godfathers of heavy metal, influencing some of the greatest metal bands of all time, extending all the way to Metallica themselves.
Hey, if you're gonna pick a band to do all of your theme music, you might as well make it a good one.
Triple H has been coming out to this theme song for over a decade now, and it's easily one of the most recognizable songs in wrestling history.
Regardless of how you view the man himself, it's simply impossible to deny the impact he's had on the business. It's also impossible to deny that everyone in the world knows his theme song by heart. Just watch the crowds when he comes out.
"It's all about the game, and how you play it. All about control, and if you can take it. It's all about your debt, and if you can pay it. It's all about pain, and who's gonna make it."
12. Bret Hart: "Hart Attack"
You gotta give credit to Bret Hart. His theme song, "Hart Attack" can be traced all the way back to his late 80s Hart Foundation tag team with Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart. It's seen a few tweaks and changes, but the basic song remains the same all the way to 2011.
If nothing else, he's dedicated to maintaining his image.
If there are any other positive things you want to hear about Bret Hart, just ask the man himself. He's always been more than happy to tell you how great his career was, how he could have a five-star match with a broomstick, or simply how awesome it is to be Bret Hart in general.
All I'm going to say is he has some legendary music, and with that, we're on to the next slide.
11. D-Generation X: "Break It Down"
"Are you ready?"
The catalyst for the start of the WWF's much-ballyhooed Attitude Era was the formation of d-Generation X in 1997. Formed by Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Chyna and their enforcer, "Ravishing" Rick Rude, the group signaled the dawn of a new era in professional wrestling.
An era where crotch chopping, middle fingers and a barrage of four letter words became the norm, the Attitude Era was the biggest boom period in all of modern wrestling.
The boys, and girl, of d-X were at the forefront of the movement.
Instead of simply keeping their singles theme music, the team would hire their own personal "d-X Band" to record their new entrance opus. While the band was never known for anything besides the d-X theme song (aside from an awful performance of the national anthem at WrestleMania XIV), the one thing they did create was perfectly crafted.
The faction would go through several iterations, and would bring in (and kick out) several different members, but their theme remained the same throughout their entire run.
Even in 2009, when Shawn Michaels and Triple H reformed the original d-Generation X, they kept the original song to introduce an entirely new generation of fans to their Attitude Era antics.
Some people weren't fans of trotting out another old faction in the current day WWE, but you have to admit that the opening lines of their theme music still created a pop nearly unrivaled in the history of wrestling, regardless of how some fans viewed the two aging stars.
"So, tell me what it's like to be half a man. It must break your heart to see what I am, but that's the breaks, boy. Yeah, that's the breaks, little man. Break it down!"
10. John Cena: "My Time Is Now"
As the biggest superstar in the modern era of WWE, John Cena has a pair of classic themes to his credit.
"Basic Thuganomics" was the first theme he came out with upon receiving his original push within WWE. I say that, "he came out with" the song because it was actually supposed to be a track on his first album, "You Can't See Me."
It ended up being cut from that album, however, and was made available on the "WWE Originals" album instead. Either way, it's a John Cena song.
His second theme song, "My Time is Now," is also a Cena original, but its a song that he's stuck with for a much longer period of time. Debuting just before WrestleMania 21, Cena has been using this catchy tune for nearly seven years now.
While, for a hardcore fan of the rap genre, the song might not be a technical display of wordsmith talent, it is still bordering on iconic considering the length of time he's been using it and how the song connects with his rabid fan base.
John Cena definitely has his share of haters within the world of wrestling, but no one can deny that his is one of the most memorable theme songs ever. As soon as the opening trumpet sounds off, the WWE Universe is on their feet one way or another.
"Your time is up, my time is now. You can't see me, my time is now. It's the franchise, boy, I'm shining now. You can't see me, my time is now."
9. Ultimate Warrior: "Unstable"
Aside from Hulk Hogan, and possibly the "Macho Man" Randy Savage, in 1980s WWF, there was no theme song more instantly recognizable than that of The Ultimate Warrior.
As far as musical variety goes, "Unstable" features one of the most basic guitar riffs the world has ever seen. Regardless, the way in which the music was arranged fit the Ultimate Warrior character perfectly.
Wild, out of control guitar and a continuously pumping drum line led the Warrior to the ring for his wild, out-of-control squash matches.
Say what you will about the technical prowess of the Warrior, the man was pure excitement in the ring. His gimmick probably wouldn't work in today's jobber-free WWE, but throughout the 80s and early 90s, there was no man who ran through his competition with such reckless abandon as the Ultimate Warrior.
The fans went nuts from the time he made his running entrance, throughout his 60 second matches, all the way until his wild exit from the ring.
Everything the Ultimate Warrior ever did, including his WWF and WCW stints as a whole, was always short and to the point. His fans wouldn't have had it any other way.
"Feel the power of the Ultimate Warrior!"
8. "Macho Man" Randy Savage: "Pomp & Circumstance"
Earlier this year, the wrestling world suffered perhaps its greatest loss to date, when Randy "Macho Man" Savage passed away after suffering a fatal heart attack which also resulted in a terrible car crash near his home in Tampa, Florida.
Aside from the obvious, one of the saddest parts about the loss of Randy Savage was the timing.
After being on the outs with Vince McMahon for well over a decade, Savage had finally come back into the WWE fold just months before his tragic passing. Savage signed on to participate in the marketing for the WWE All Stars video game, as well as the use of his likeness for a line of new action figures.
A long-overdue Hall of Fame induction, it seemed, was just around the corner.
Some people even thought Savage might eventually make some sort of an on-screen return to WWE, being that the two sides were finally on speaking terms again.
Unfortunately for all parties, this was not to be, as Savage passed away before anything more could come to fruition.
Regardless, several generations of fans will always remember the "Macho Man" for his years of service to sports entertainment. In the 1980s, when Hulkamania was running wild, Savage was always right behind the Hulkster in terms of popularity.
The two superstars ran neck and neck for their entire careers, all the way through to the dying days of WCW, when Savage officially retired from the ring.
In the early 90s, when Savage was one of the final big WWF stars left on the roster, he helped usher in the company's "New Generation," and was viewed as a locker room leader once Hogan bolted for Turner's wrestling organization. He eventually left himself, but the mark he left on the WWF would never be forgotten.
Throughout his entire career, Savage always (save for his "What Up, Mach" run during his last year or so) used some form of "Pomp and Circumstance," or the graduation theme, in homage to his wrestling role model, Gorgeous George. However, it was Savage, not George, who would always be remembered for this theme song.
If things had turned out differently, and Savage would have made that one last appearance in a WWE ring, you can bet he would've come out to his iconic theme... and you can bet that the entire crowd would have been on their feet for it.
7. Shawn Michaels: "Sexy Boy"
Our next entry was actually awarded the controversial No. 1 spot on our list of Lamest Theme Songs Ever.
"Sexy Boy," the theme song for Shawn Michaels, might be lame, but that doesn't change the fact that everyone knows it. Michaels has been using this exact same theme song since he split from former manager "Sensational" Sherri back in 1993.
Even if you want to forget this theme, it's impossible.
One of the greatest wrestlers of all time, Michaels made his WrestleMania debut in 1989 as one half of The Rockers at WrestleMania V: The Mega Powers Explode. He wrestled his final match at WrestleMania XXVI against The Undertaker.
That's a long time to be around in any career, much less professional wrestling. If you couple that with the fact that Michaels' in-ring skills somehow seemed to continuously improve throughout his 20+ year career, and you have a recipe for success that very few can match.
Michaels' long-time theme song, "Sexy Boy" is one of the only self-made (HBK himself provides the vocals) songs with any sort of lasting appeal in wrestling history. That's impressive enough, but if you listen to the actual words of the song and add in that Michaels was in his 40s when he retired, it makes his theme even more noteworthy.
If he were to come back 20 years from now, in his 60s, Michaels would still use the same music... and the crowd would still go wild. Crazy, that.
"I think I'm cute. I know I'm sexy. I've got the looks that drives the girls wild. I've got the moves that really move 'em. I send chills up and down their spines. I'm just a sexy boy."
6. "Nature Boy" Ric Flair: "Also Sprach Zarsthustra"
Don't bother trying to pronounce the formal name of "Also Sprach Zarathustra." You can just call it "that song from 2001: A Space Odyssey," or "Ric Flair's music," whichever you like.
Whatever you call this entry on our countdown, it's synonymous with "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, the legendary superstar who has used this theme since the early days of his career. Footage from as early as the very first Starrcade shows Flair coming to the ring, decked out in his trademark robe, with the strands of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" blaring in the background.
Simply put, Ric Flair has been using this song longer than a vast majority of us have been alive.
You don't have a career like Flair's, one of the most widely respected wrestlers of all time, with a steady usage of the exact same theme song, and not have people stand at attention whenever the initial horn blows.
During his first WWF stint, back in 1991, Flair actually used a slightly different (read: ripoff) version of his original theme music. It wouldn't last, however, as Flair went back to his old WCW stomping grounds in 1993, and brought his original song back with him.
Even today, WWE acknowledges that something just wasn't right about the WWF version of his theme, as they've dubbed his original music over it on all of the footage we see on their DVD releases and WWE 24/7 today.
Knowing WWE, if they bothered to change their own theme to something created outside of WWE for one of their releases, you know it has to be a big deal.
Just look at Bill Goldberg. His WCW theme was epic, yet every time you see any footage of him on a WWE release, they've dubbed his lame WWE theme over the top of the original. It's a shame, but that's how they do things. Amazingly, Flair is the exception to the rule.
Currently a member of the TNA roster, the 63-year-old Flair still comes out to a version of "Also Sprach Zarathustra." While it is a TNA version, somehow featuring an electric guitar, it remains true to the actual tune itself. Anything else would be unacceptable.
5. The Rock: "If You Smell..."
As far as lyrics go, this next entry needs only say eight words to bring the crowd to its feet:
"If ya smell... what The Rock... is cookin'!"
Ever since his late 90s split from the Nation of Domination, aside from a few minor tweaks every couple of years, The Rock's epic theme music has largely remained the same.
Well, he did have that "Hollywood Rock" theme for his ill-advised heel turn in 2003, but that's not the song everyone remembers. The song everyone remembers is the same one he comes out to in 2011, the one that electrifies crowds nationwide upon hearing the opening sentence.
There isn't much to say about The Rock which hasn't already been said. He's the biggest crossover star the wrestling world has ever seen, and despite what some people think about the man, he has remained rather loyal to the business that brought him to the show in the first place.
Sure, it's usually a while in between WWE sightings, but he always comes back, regardless of what else he's got on his plate.
For someone with as much mainstream success as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, that fact is to be commended.
It also speaks volumes for the man that he can be out of the WWE spotlight for years at the time, but as soon as his trademark music kicks in over an arena's loudspeakers, the crowd instantly goes wild. Jim Johnston, the man responsible for many of the WWE's legendary themes, doesn't have that many success stories in the modern day, but he'll always have this gem.
And for that, we thank him.
4. The Undertaker: "Dark Side"
The only thing the WWE Universe needs to hear is the toll of the opening bell, and they know exactly who's coming to the ring: "The Phenom of WWE" The Undertaker.
This writer has been lucky enough to witness The Undertaker's legendary entrance on two separate occasions, at WrestleMania XXIV in Orlando and WrestleMania XXVII in Atlanta, and both were some of the most incredible displays of theatrics I've ever seen.
One big difference, however, were the theme songs he used.
In Atlanta, The Undertaker came out to Johnny Cash's "Ain't No Grave," which he'd been using since his comeback earlier in 2010. In Orlando, on the other hand, he used his original "Dark Side" theme, which is a simple homage to the old time funeral dirge.
While both were awesome entrances, and while "Ain't No Grave" is a fantastic song for his character, The Undertaker's original theme was by far the more fitting.
Beginning with his debut in 1990, The Undertaker has almost always used some version of the funeral dirge in his entrance, but it was the addition to the iconic "gong" at the beginning of his theme that made it complete.
In 2011, more than 20 full years after his debut, that simple sound alone is enough to bring an entire arena to its feet. In the often fickle world of professional wrestling, that's saying something.
For whom the bell tolls.
3. nWo: "Rockhouse"
Throughout the mid-90s, the sounds of "Rockhouse" immediately bring one thing to mind: the New World Order.
In 1996, after fighting a losing battle against WWF's Monday Night Raw, WCW finally found a way to make Monday Nitro fit the bill of "the hottest wrestling program in the world today," when the nWo was formed.
Originally viewed by most fans (this was prior to the Internet explosion) as a legitimate takeover by the rival WWF, Kevin Nash and Scott hall ran rampant over WCW for several months before revealing their surprise mystery partner, Hulk Hogan, at Bash at the Beach 1996.
For the weeks, months, even years following the group's original formation, "Rockhouse" was played no less than a dozen times an episode on Monday Nitro. From 1996, nearly all the way until WCW closed its doors in 2001, "Rockhouse" was synonymous with the arrival of the renegade faction.
Honestly, in spite of the theme's legendary status today, most fans wound up rolling their eyes at the sound of the tune by the time WCW's dying days were visible.
A catchy song, indeed, the fact remains that you can only hear even the best of songs a certain number of times before it grows old. WCW so heavily relied on the nWo formula that it would eventually wind up being a major factor in the death of the promotion.
Still, the song is so recognizable, that even in 2011, as Kevin Nash enters WWE's arenas to the sound of "Rockhouse," crowds continue to pop. Nostalgia is an amazing thing.
While most fans would quickly shun the idea of a current day nWo reunion, the "Rockhouse" theme would still immediately bring everyone to their feet, even if it is simply a knee-jerk reaction at this point.
"N-N-New World Order. Fuh'life. Th-Th-The biggest icon in wrestling. N...W...O. We-We are in control. N-N-New World Order."
2. Hulk Hogan: "Real American"
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!"
1. Stone Cold: "Hell Frozen Over"
"When you hear the glass, that's your ass!"
As much as this writer wanted to list Hulk Hogan's "Real American" as the most instantly recognizable wrestling theme song of all time, I simply couldn't bring myself to do it. No, to list any theme over "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's iconic glass-shattering "Hell Frozen Over" would be a grave injustice to the integrity of this list.
Many theme songs, Hogan's included, have been around for a lot longer than Austin's. Many theme songs are better composed, and more original in their sound as well. However, there is no song out there that is as recognizable as "Hell Frozen Over."
The second any self-respecting wrestling fan hears the breaking of the glass at the start of this theme, there isn't a single one of them who doesn't know exactly what's coming next.
Following his run as The Ringmaster in 1995-96, Austin would ditch the gimmick in favor of the "Stone Cold" moniker. For a brief period, Austin continued to use Ted DiBiase as his manager, and the character didn't seem as if it was going to last any longer than The Ringmaster had. Fortunately for him, the WWF brass allowed him to rid himself of the unnecessary manager, and speak his own mind.
Austin took the ball, ran like he stole something, and never looked back.
Once he was given the opportunity not only to speak for himself, but act simply as an amped up extension of his real-life personality, Austin quickly turned into the hottest thing in professional wrestling.
Much like the nWo had done for WCW in 1996, Austin led the WWF back into the top spot on Monday nights. Unlike the nWo, however, Austin did not wear out his welcome, nor did he wind up dragging the WWF down the toilet with WCW.
Still today, after having not wrestled a legitimate match since WrestleMania XIX in 2003, when the sound of breaking glass echoes throughout any arena in the world, the crowd is immediately standing in anticipation for the arrival of the legendary "Texas Rattlesnake."
There is no theme in the world that can compare to the recognition of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's, and it is for that reason alone that he stands tall at the top of our list of the most memorable themes of all time.
"And that's the bottom line, because 'Stone Cold' said so!"
Thanks for Reading!
Well, we've made it to the end of our countdown. I hope you've enjoyed the list as much as I enjoyed making it.
Like with any "best of" list ever created, this one is sure to spark at least a little controversy. There is sure to be something I left off, something that should have been placed higher/lower on the list, or something I forgot to mention in general. That's why I write, so don't hesitate to tell me what you think.
As always, thanks for reading! I look forward to hearing your comments, suggestions and opinions.
In the meantime, I'll be right here waiting to discuss it with you all. Until next time.