With WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) there is always more than meets the eye; whether it is in the fighting (yes, we all know that it’s fake but it’s a skill in and of itself to fight without actually trying to hurt yourself or your opponent), or the bickering and arguments that happen backstage and in the ring, wrestling is surprisingly full of politics, laughter, symbolism and even unicorn horns. But an interesting feature of wrestling is its use of music and theme songs. Each wrestler has a theme and in those precious moments when they walk towards the ring, their music plays for all to hear and sing (or scream) along to.
“…But the magic lies in the music; because the character of each wrestler is represented in their theme, an important aspect that subconsciously helps audience members feel more connected to the wrestler…”
But we should go back a few paces. Before any wrestler has even shown themselves, their music has started. Essentially, the theme is used as an indicator of which wrestler is going to walk out from backstage. It is a moment that fills audience members with excitement or (depending on the wrestler) utter disappointment. But the magic lies in the music; because the character of each wrestler is represented in their theme, an important aspect that subconsciously helps audience members feel more connected to the wrestler.
In fact, we see (or hear) this a lot in movies and TV shows which have theme music to help provide an initial aura of the content or subject (for example, the theme for The Simpsons, and Mission Impossible among many others). Theme music is similar (but should not be confused) with the musical practice of leitmotivs which are musical phrases used to represent a person, an idea, a place, or even a setting within an entire piece. For example, in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we have Rey’s Theme which for some fans sounds a lot like Luke’s Theme (possible connection perhaps?). Contrastingly, theme music is an entire song dedicated to representing a subject or person and is usually heard at the beginning and/or end of a show or movie. In the case of wrestling, theme music is used to represent and provide an idea of the wrestler’s character as they walk out to the ring.
Taking a look first at wrestler Roman Reigns, his theme music has a lot to offer, just like his character. Though he puts on a tough persona, he is very mysterious and silent. Often times, it is difficult to figure out what he is planning or even thinking. Similarly, his theme music begins with a very unyielding and resilient sound, represented through heavy guitar and percussion mixed in with a low baritone resonance. The music then becomes calm and smooth where the sounds of the guitar and percussion split from each other and become softer. This adds an air of mystery to it, as well as an anticipation which is essential to the character of Roman Reigns as we are always anticipating his next move, which could literally be anything (seriously, he once Superman-punched his “boss” Triple H). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRXYBZ7eGXs
And speaking of boss, wrestler Sasha Banks (aka The Boss) is all about confidence and ability. Her character is very withdrawn and closed off, yet she is willing to work with others to accomplish a shared goal (such as teaming up with old enemy Becky Lynch to defeat Team B.A.D). Thus, her music is very tuneful suggesting her willingness to team up with others. In fact, her lyrics really highlight her self-confidence with statements such as: “There’s nothing dragging down me yeah,” and “It’s my destiny to be bigger.”
Lastly, wrestler Dean Ambrose (aka The Lunatic Fringe) is literally insane (he once attacked his opponents with a hot dog stand, and rode out to the ring in an ambulance still wearing his neck brace just to get his revenge on an earlier surprise attack – talk about imagination!). Naturally, this makes us wonder what his music could possibly sound like. Fortunately, it doesn’t disappoint. It’s so full of different sounds and loud dynamics that it feels as if it has no control whatsoever. That, combined with the multiple cymbal crashes and the high pitched guitar sound really makes for an unusual musical texture. It is the perfect representation of Dean Ambrose, who is willing to do crazy and fantastic things just to get what he wants.
“…theme music allows for us to feel and enjoy the energy and excitement of what we’re watching…”
With a look at just these three wrestlers (of course there are many more with fantastic theme songs), it is clear that in wrestling there is always more than meets the eye. However, it is also clear that theme music allows for us to feel and enjoy the energy and excitement of what we’re watching. It is even enough to drive some fans crazy (been there, done that – I might have cried once). But most of all, it gives us something to look forward to, whether that involves seeking out well-deserved relaxation time, trying to figure out who Rey’s parents are, or attempting to guess at our favorite wrestler’s next move; music gives us meaning and the beauty of it is that we can choose which way to interpret it.