Here on the Tuesday Top 10, I’ve mostly tackled two things: pro wrestling and music. The reason for this being that they are my Top 2 favorite forms of entertainment. I do enjoy movies and other TV shows as well, but give me some music and some wrestling and I’ll be all good. And sometimes, I get to talk about the two together; I’ve called pro wrestling the total package when it comes to entertainment as its a mix of a little big of everything. Athleticism, theater, storytelling, and even music. Now just the entrance themes, but also the television themes. And WWE TV shows have had some very awesome theme songs over the years; songs that get you excited to watch some craziness go down. And I’m gonna rank my Top 10 favorites this week. Now, I’ve decided to exclude songs that are all instrumental, meaning no Velocity or Confidential or Heat or the first Monday Night RAW theme; I would probably include those first three on a list of wrestling shows I miss, but that’s another story for another day. Also, I’m only limiting this to their in-ring shows, hence why their reality-based shows like Total Divas and Tough Enough are excluded. Well, let’s get started with this week’s Top 10!
#10. CFO$ “Roar of the Crowd” [NXT, 2014-Now]
After using “Welcome Home” by Coheed & Cambria as the official theme song of the NXT relaunch for some time, WWE decided to switch it up with a new song after the very first NXT live-special. And it would be performed by WWE’s now-official in-house musicians CFO$. While they’re no Jim Johnston, CFO$ can craft some pretty cool tunes and this just happens to be one of them. This song does share a common trait that most CFO$ theme songs have in that it’s basically the same hook and the same two verses looped to meet the length of a full song; they did it for Paige, Enzo Amore, and Bayley’s themes among others). But when you get past that, it’s actually a nice theme for the WWE developmental show, especially when you take into account that the Full Sail crowd NXT usually performs in are usually always on and roaring.
#9. Green Day “Know Your Enemy” [Smackdown, 2010-2012]
Sorry that so many Smackdown themes are kicking off the list; we’ll get to the RAW themes soon, trust me. But right now, I gotta discuss this song from one of my personal favorite bands. In 2009, Green Day released their first studio album in five years, 21st Century Breakdown. The first single from the album was entitled “Know Your Enemy” and it was undeniably a catchy number from the pop-punk icons. While it wasn’t Green Day’s best song (it wasn’t even the best song on the album), it works as a sign of things to come, making it a great fit to open a wrestling show. I was excited because having one of my favorite bands perform a song used in my favorite form of entertainment other than music sounds like just about the coolest thing in the world.
#8. CFO$ “The Night 2014 Remix” [RAW, 2014-Now]
I had a few problems with the original version of this song that WWE introduced in 2012 on the RAW 1000 special. The production was too basic, it wasn’t that excitement, and I swear I heard both a cash register and the sound of someone typing on a computer in the background. It’s like listening to a version of it downloaded from LimeWire, even on the official version. The 2014 remix, however, was a humongous step up. It’s like they pumped it with audio steroids; the guitar is more aggressive, the rapper has more energy in his voice, and the cash register and keyboard clicks are gone (or at least drowned out). Plus, we got a kick-ass second verse tacked on. Let’s just pretend that boring first version never existed and revel in the awesomeness of the 2014 remix.
#7. Shinedown “Diamond Eyes (Boom Lay Boom)” [Main Event, 2012-2014]
I did not have high hopes for Main Event when WWE announced it’s eventual existence; it reminded me too much of Superstars. And sure enough, Main Event didn’t disappoint. It premiered on iON Television with WWE trying to bring in viewers by promoting matches with big-name stars and only occasionally recapping the action from RAW and Smackdown. However, over time, the show would be taken off of television and reduced to a full-on recap show with only lower-card talents competing on it in matches that no one benefits from. Yup, I totally called it. In fact, if I can recall my favorite thing about the whole show was the opening theme by Shinedown. With chants of “Boom Lay Boom” and powerful vocals from Brent Smith, it was quite the song to open with. And also, like Superstars, WWE changed the theme song to Main Event too.
#6. Nickelback “Burn It To The Ground” [RAW, 2009-2012]
Now it’s time to start talking about RAW; it’s also time to discuss one of music’s longest-running punching bags in Nickelback. Except for maybe Justin Bieber, Nickelback is probably the most made-fun-of and widely despised acts in music. Honestly, though, I’ve never really had anything against them; there have been absolutely worse artists who have come along in the mainstream over the years to get too worked up over these guys with their admittedly simple melodies and Chad Kroeger‘s blood-garglingly rough singing. In fact, elements like that are partially why their Grammy-nominated “Burn It To The Ground” works so well. And when placed in a wrestling context, it’s works even better. The lyrics (especially in the hooks) are not the essence of creativity, but musically, it’s a hard rocking song and the hook is a lot of fun to sing and it really contains the spirit of the excitement that Monday Night RAW should bring in people.
#5. SlamJam “Thorn In Your Eye” [RAW, 1997-2002]
Ah, yes, the official theme song of the Attitude Era pretty much (although this song they used on the Attitude Era DVD kicks just as much ass). This song welcomed fans into the RAW Zone week after week during the most infamous era in pro wrestling history. And much like the Nickelback song, you can’t help but get hyped after hearing those hard, unforgiving riffs. This is the kind of song that gets you excited for some no-holds-barred in-ring action like this. I wouldn’t say that this song is flawless, however; because honestly, what is the world are the lyrics to this song? I swear I heard him say “I’ve seen a donut and tried to MacBeth”; that is not cryptic lyricism, that’s trying to give Train a run for their money in the strange lyrics department. But again, the music is so in-your-face and enjoyable, I’ll take the incoherent lyrics and let it have the #5 spot on the list!
#4. 7lions “Born to Run” [Smackdown, 2012-2014]
This was another of those theme songs I wasn’t originally feeling when Smackdown started using it to open their shows with. Despite still being a rock song (with rapping, obviously), it sounded kind of poppy compared to the theme songs of Smackdown’s past. Then I decided to give the full song a listen on YouTube. Then I listened to it again. And again. And again. And again. Long story short, I really came to appreciate this song after giving it a real chance. Lyrically, the song does translate to wrestling as it’s basically about overcoming obstacles and continuing to persevere and stand tall. The rapping is fine and the singer’s voice demands to be heard. Again, I think since it was being used on a wrestling (or “sports-entertainment” for Vince’s sake) show, the poppier tone of the song took me back a bit. But hey, I’m a guy who doesn’t discriminate with genres (last week, I covered Taylor Swift and next week I’m covering R&B/pop music girl groups, both being huge contrasts to the rock songs I’m covering this week), so I knew not to rule the song out completely. And I’m glad I didn’t.
#3. Papa Roach “To Be Loved” [RAW, 2006-2009]
If I can be honest, I think I love this song more as it’s own thing than as a wrestling theme song, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be linked it to pro wrestling in any context. On it’s own, it’s a perfectly fine, perfectly angry Papa Roach song. But then again, on a deeper level, what’s behind the anger? Why does he have a “jet-black heart”, as he put it? Well, apparently, it’s out of a desire to be loved; not so much in a romantic fashion as much as it is a desire to be appreciated and accepted among spectators and the world at large. OK, maybe that was a cheesy way of putting it, but I think you get my point. And that’s kind of what wrestlers have to work for, to get that applause and that approval from the crowd that they know their roles, as The Rock says, and is leaving an impression. Wow, and all that from a song that includes the f-word a grand total of four times.
#2. Marilyn Manson “The Beautiful People” [Smackdown, 2001-2003]
Kinda strange that WWE, in 2002, were opening Smackdown with a song that was nominated for Best Rock Video at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1997, as well as performed on the show. Another fun fact: this was actually the theme song for Monday Night RAW for a bit in 1997. However, I think that it’s more closely linked to Smackdown mainly because of how well it blended with wretsling footage during the openings of Smackdown between 2001 and 2003; using this music as the soundtrack to fast-cutting clips of scenes such as Shane McMahon being thrown through glass, The Rock laying the Smack-eth down, and even Torrie Wilson in her U.S.A. bikini was just a blast to watch. The fact that this song is about “the culture of beauty”, according to Manson aside, this is the theme song I’ll always most associate with Smackdown. Oh, and one more fun fact: a WWE music video of it exists on the Smackdown: Shut Your Mouth theater…OK, it’s in the credits video, but it’s still pretty funny.
#1. The Union Underground “Across The Nation” [RAW, 2002-2006]
A song so good they actually made a music video for it (with actual wrestling clips in it) and put it on MTV2. “Across The Nation” was Monday Night RAW’s theme song from 2002 to 2006 and like “The Beautiful People” for Smackdown, “Across The Nation” is the song I always associate the most with the brand. It was the hardest rocking, the biggest sounding, easily the most memorable. It’s even the most wide-reaching title-wise; they’re not staying local, they’re going across the nation. And sure, the hook talks about “playing music” instead of getting in the ring to wrestle. And I can make a corny argument for it being a metaphor of some kind all I want; it’s still “move to my music”. Well, I’ll gladly move to this music anytime because not only is it the best sounding theme in RAW history, but no other theme in WWE TV show history has gotten me more excited for some in-ring action more than this one. “Across The Nation”; it may be the only song I know the Union Underground for, but what a song it is. Oh, and one more thing: How did this NOT win the MTV2 Award at the VMAs, or at least get nominated? It totally should’ve been.
+ Jim Johnston “I Want It All” [Smackdown]
In 2003, most of the music WWE used was rock and metal; the only time you ever heard rap was when it fit a character’s persona or when WWE tried to force a comedic gimmick on talented-but-bland worker. But then they gave Smackdown this theme song. Not bad, huh?
+ Divide The Day “Let It Roll” [Smackdown]
I thought this song was pretty generic at first, but once I actually gave it chance, I realized it was actually pretty damn enjoyable. The guitar riffs are epic and are the kind of things that pump you up and the lyrics calling out someone for talking that trash was certainly as pro wrestling as you can get.
+ Coheed & Cambria “Welcome Home” [NXT]
The original theme song of the revamped NXT; they only used that wicked guitar riff for it, though. Does it disqualify the song from contention, though? No, but it was great enough to land it an honorable mention.
+ Saliva “Don’t Question My Heart” [ECW]
I would never question the heart of anyone who competed in ECW…the original, not the WWE version that this song opened up for.
+ Adelita’s Way “Invincible” [Superstars]
Superstars was one of those shows WWE treated like a big deal when it premiered only to turn it into a recap show with the occasional match featuring jobbers or lower-card talents (just like Heat and Main Event). But back when the show was a (sort of) big deal, Adelita’s Way provided the theme for it.
+ American Bang “Wild and Young”
It only made sense that a show about young upstarts hungry for success is introduced by a song about being young upstarts hungry for success.