Every professional wrestler these days–from champion to jobber–walks down the aisle with his or her theme music pumping through the P.A. speakers, but it wasn’t all that long ago when wrestlers entered the ring in complete silence.
It’s a little unclear who was actually the first wrestler to have musical accompaniment for their walk to the squared circle. Some have cited 1950’s wrestler, Glen Stride, as being the first. Some give the distinction to fellow 50’s wrestler, Gorgeous George, who flamboyantly paraded down the aisle to the sounds of “Pomp and Circumstance.” Sgt. Slaughter may take credit for it, coming up with the idea of playing the “Marines Hymn” for his walk to the ring in a wrestling era void of theme music. Arguably, Rowdy Roddy Piper could be tossed into the conversation, playing his own theme music on the bagpipes during his early career.
(above: Rowdy Roddy Piper, a one-man, wrestling-theme-music machine.)
Regardless of who brought music to wrestling, we can all agree that suplexes, body slams, and pile drivers wouldn’t be the same without it.
Lace up your boots and step into the ring, here are the greatest wrestling theme songs of all-time:
12. Rob Van Dam
In its early days, ECW events took place in small bingo halls across the east coast. Though these shows lacked the production value of the World Wrestling Federation, they were able to use “real” music for their wrestlers’ entrances. Operating under the radar and not worrying about paying licensing fees, Rob Van Dam may have had one of the greatest wrestling theme songs of the early 90’s, Pantera’s “Walk.” Just humming that riff gets me ready to lock up.
11. “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase
Throughout the 80’s and early 90’s, the World Wrestling Federation created their own in-house theme music that was sometimes so horrible, it was great. The Million Dollar Man’s theme was one of them. Behind a hard-rock guitar riff, synthesizer bursts, and a chorus that repeated the word “money” over and over, Ted DiBiase delivered the following lyrics: Everybody’s got a price, everybody’s gonna pay, cause the Million Dollar Man always gets his way!
10. Randy “Macho Man” Savage
Like Gorgeous George years earlier, Randy “Macho Man” Savage used “Pomp and Circumstance” as his official ring entrance. Somehow the orchestral piece made sense for a wrestler who wasn’t above grabbing a foreign object out of his tights and knocking his opponents unconscious. When I hear the song at graduation ceremonies I still have to fight the urge of saying “Ooh yeah!” while twirling my index finger in the air.
9. The Undertaker
Theme songs in wrestling usually only work when they perfectly connect with the athlete they’re representing. In this case, a slow-building funeral dirge, makes perfect sense for a 6’10”-tattoed-cloak-wearing-tombstone-pile-drivin’ wrestler known as The Undertaker.
8. Hulk Hogan
Rick Derringer’s guilty pleasure, “Real American,” became Hulk Hogan’s theme song in the mid-80’s, but before the Hulkster flexed his way down the aisle to this tune, his entrance music was Survivor’s “Eye of The Tiger,” which was also the theme song to Rocky III. Even though Hogan’s character, Thunderlips, put a beating on Sylvester Stallone in the film, its theme song suited the Hulkster well. No disrespect to the immortal Hulk Hogan, but “Eye of The Tiger” is such a goose-pimple-inducing-arena-rock song, it would make a perfect ring entrance for just about anyone.
7. Rowdy Roddy Piper
Being a trained bagpipe player, Roddy Piper is one of the few wrestlers that could actually play his own theme music. However, during marquee matches Piper would sometimes come to the ring accompanied by a full-on bagpipe marching band. Ooh, I’m getting chills just thinking about it.
6. Stone Cold Steve Austin
The aggressive, heavy guitar riff in Stone Cold Steve Austin’s theme music perfectly fit his aggressive in-ring style, but the most memorable part of this song was the way it began–a sound effect of glass breaking. In the 90’s, a sold-out arena could be brought to its feet in seconds by simply hearing the sound of broken glass. Both Pavlov and Annie Lennox would be proud.
5. Junkyard Dog
Before the World Wrestling Federation ducked licensing costs and produced their own theme music, wrestlers would enter the ring to various hit songs of the day. In the mid-80’s, the Junkyard Dog walked down the aisle to Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust.” Hearing the song’s infectious bass line while watching the JYK strut to the ring, swinging a dog chain to the beat was a site to be seen. It was a sad day in wrestling, when the Junkyard Dog switched his theme to the WWF-ready-made, “Grab Them Cakes” (sigh).
4. Shawn Michaels
If Shawn Michaels wasn’t one of the greatest in-ring performers of all-time, his entrance music could be considered one of the cheesiest theme songs in all of wrestling. With lyrics like, “I think I’m cute, I know I’m sexy, I got the looks that drives the girls wild,” this song will not win any John Lennon songwriting contests anytime soon. However, hearing this tune before and after some of the greatest high-flying wrestling matches of all-time makes it down right irresistible. Give it a few listens, and you’ll be singing “sexy boy” in your worst falsetto.
3. Mr. Perfect
You wouldn’t expect a man who wrestled in a fluorescent-colored singlet to walk to the ring with a dramatic, classical music score playing in the background, but that was the beautiful irony of Mr. Perfect. He would usually end his majestic walks to the ring by spitting out a piece of chewing gum and slapping it out of the air–just in case you didn’t believe he was actually that perfect.
2. Triple H
It’s hard to believe that a man who used to wrestle with a French braid in his hair would later become one of the most feared wrestlers on the planet. Not only that, but Triple H later grew Lemmy-esque mutton chops and somehow got Motorhead to write him an original theme song called “The Game,” which they played live for him at two Wrestlemanias.
1. Ric Flair
There is no better entrance music in the history of wrestling than the theme to 2001: A Space Odyssey–used to perfection by the Nature Boy Ric Flair. Flair milked every note of this larger-than-life song as he strutted down the aisle, running his fingers through his perfectly coiffed, bleached blonde hair. I dare you to listen to this song without belting out a signature Ric Flair “WOOO!” at least once.