MR. TITO: The Single Problem that Plagues Both WWE and AEW from Improving

Folks, there is epidemic that is harming both WWE and AEW equally… It hurts the image of their product and affects the talent for whom they pay highly. In fact, this problem has been around for over 15 years now and AEW didn’t learn from WWE’s mistake. Furthermore, it limits the merchandise capabilities of both promotions as well. For the record, TNA and NWA are also suffering from this horrible tactical problem.

I’m just going to state this bluntly: WWE and AEW’s theme music SUCKS.

That’s right, it sucks!

Complete garbage as wrestlers make their entrances, and I wonder if it’s a contest to have the most whiny singers perform in their entrance themes. “Wahhhhhh”

We had it SO GOOD with Jim Johnston, former composer of the WWE from the mid-1980s through the mid-2010s, though he was being used less and less after the early 2000s. This guy composed his own music and it was perfectly done to fit the wrestler. He rarely employed singers because his composed music did all of the talking, along with clever hooks or sound effects to start the music. When you hear that glass shatter or that guitar riff, you know that HELL is about to break loose when either Stone Cold Steve Austin or Brock Lesnar arrives.

When I was watching Wrestlemania 40, Mrs. Tito was watching the main events with me and she remarked how GOOD the Rock and Roman Reigns’s themes sounded and how awful Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins’s themes were. And yeah, it’s very apparent. Rock’s is from the Jim Johnston era which simply says “If you smelllll, what the Rock, is cooking” and then just plays a variation of the theme Johnston made. Brock Lesnar’s wasn’t produced by Johnston, but it has NO WORDS. No whiny emo musician screaming in a microphone, as it’s an actual orchestra playing an epic like song for an epic type wrestler.

AEW is no different… Nothing but hot garbage theme music from top to bottom. Worse yet for AEW, their wrestlers are changing music themes based on their mood and will often cost AEW a ton of rights expenses to play a major hit song on television. For the stuff that they’ve contracted and had made, it’s just terrible.

Wrestling theme music is gravely important to the presentation of a wrestler, period. If you don’t have a great theme music for Ultimate Warrior as he’s sprinting to the ring, he’s not as over. FACT. Warrior was 100% presentation because he obviously wasn’t good in the ring, at all. When you heard that theme music, IT WAS ON. You know that a jacked up maniac wearing war paint was running to the ring and the electricity poured on after that. With Steve Austin, his music wasn’t great but it was simple enough and the glass shattering made it matter. You knew that a badass was coming to the ring and you were glued to the TV set when it happened. With Johnston, LESS IS MORE… Just need glass shattering, a catch phrase, or a guitar riff, and then whatever music followed, it didn’t matter. The viewers were hooked because the immediately identified which wrestler was coming to the ring.

I remember watching Royal Rumble 2024‘s Women’s Rumble Match and struggling to identify anyone’s theme music. Everything sounded the same. Yet, if you played me Lita, Torrie Wilson, Jacqueline, Molly Holly, and Trish Stratus (one of the few who contracted hers out, but it’s perfect), I know them immediately. Maybe that’s just me being nostalgic, but today’s music is just poorly done and just has too bands screaming when they think they are singing.

Then, you get AEW and Tony Khan completely botching an answer to Brandon Thurston’s question about recent talent releases. Tony, at first, gave the right answer about paying for higher priced free agents and then wanting to make free agent decisions in the future. 100% behind that for needing to trim the budget. Then, this moron talks about licensing music for the Ring of Honor program and explaining how one song cost over $100,000 to acquire. For a ROH show that nobody will watch?!?!?!? Are you out of your mind, Tony? You just released wrestlers, claim that it will save money to buy other wrestlers, and THEN talk about paying over $100,000 for 1 freakin’ song which probably didn’t make a world of difference!

And by the way, this isn’t the only time that he’s announced overpaying for licensed music on wrestling shows. He paid HEAVILY for Europe’s “Final Countdown” song for a guy with an already established theme song and did not need such a theme song.

What AEW doesn’t realize is that they could pay $100,000 to $250,000, which it costs per ONE use of a song on a televised broadcast, to pay a freakin’ COMPOSER to make songs for them. Then, they would have FULL OWNERSHIP of whatever the composer makes for their talent and market it as merchandise for fans to buy.

That’s what WWE did with Jim Johnston… He was a salaried employee of WWE and made themes for them as his job. Any themes he made was while being a WWE employee, so thus WWE owned them. WWE made 10 volumes of their “WWE: The Music” collection along with several greatest hits compilations. EASY money because they didn’t have to license the music used on television or Pay Per View, and then they could sell it to pad merchandise numbers. Furthermore, with the right theme music, it made the wrestler GET OVER and thus padded their viewership, attendance, and merchandise sales further.

Now, I know what you’re gonna tell me… “But but but everyone sings along with the theme music now!” Cool story, bro… Are they buying the actual themes in droves like they used to? Let me put it in 2020s terms… Are they buying the digital tracks or streaming them? Not even close to what it used to be as a merchandise opportunity. In fact, when was the last Sporting Event that played WWE theme music of recent wrestlers? Last I checked, many arenas still play the oldest wrestling theme stuff.

Fans will song along to anything… Remember Fandango‘s theme music? Yeah, they sang along to that stuff. People bought millions of albums from boy bands, but does that make them all time great musical acts in terms of quality. No, it doesn’t… What BORED wrestling fans do in the crowd is their business, but it’s always indicative that something is “over”. Fandango hasn’t been in the WWE since 2021, sadly.

And where are all of these male screamers coming from? Good God… Just so much emotional baggage being screamed into these records and unfortunately, wrestlers come out to this stuff. Randy Orton, Dolph Ziggler, Miz, and now Cody Rhodes are examples of AWFUL theme music where the artists just scream into the microphone for no rhyme or reason, poorly written lyrics, and just screws up the vibe of the wrestlers. For Dolph, Miz, and Cody, they look like the biggest dorks coming up to their goofy theme music. Imagine how much over Cody would be if Jim Johnston constructed badass theme music for him? Hell, Johnston made perfect theme music for his dad, Dusty, which is STILL played to this day.

What has happened to music on the male side of the ledger? We used to have real men playing in bands and having balls to put anything in lyrics. Somewhere along the line during the early 2000s, and I believe Eminem’s albums freaked everybody out, the male artist got clipped and neutered. Instead of talking about partying, politics, or stuff they hate, they now sing about their feelings… Yeah, feelings. THIS is why you lack males drawing money in the music industry unless they go to Country Music. Every other genre is completed dominated by female artists. Not complaining, as I enjoy of a few of them, but where are the guys producing music like they used to? To quote my boy Bill Hicks, “I remember when music had heart and when music had soul”. Completely mindless music produced by males today and that’s a microcosm of how males have been neutered on being expressive since the 21st century of cancellation began.

Just to put that in perspective, the reason why The Rock stands out is that he’s allowed to curse and say vulgarities against Cody Rhodes or Seth Rollins who are abiding by WWE, USA Network, or FOX’s censorship standards on television and on social media. Furthermore, wrestlers today have to be 100% squeaky clean on anything they do or say. Thus, when the Rock gets on the microphone and starts cursing, it’s completely shocking because of how neutered the WWE has become on content since the late 2010s.

Then, when you have COOL theme music, it gets changed. What the hell happened to AJ Styles‘s music. Completely awful and now, you won’t recognize that AJ Styles is coming out to theme music. There’s a reason why Hogan and Michaels never changed their theme music… As corny as their themes were, you always knew it was them coming out. I always thought Steve Austin lost a bit of his edge when Disturbed played his theme… Just completely distracted from the great wrestlers that was coming out to the ring. WWE course corrected and returned Austin to his Jim Johnston theme once he returned to being a babyface during late 2001.

Who else remembers popping WWE: The Music in your car’s CD player from your CD wallet and were proudly jamming to the themes back then? I was just blasting Razor Ramon’s theme because it was a legit banger. It had a car crash and then a simple theme that fit the vibe of the character. Then, if you’re going to do singing, do it well like the Degeneration X theme song… While it contains singing, what matters is that opening “Are You Ready?” and then the heartbeat. THAT is what mattered and you immediately knew “oh no, here comes DX” and a high degree of entertaining was about to follow.

And if you’re going to license bands, get GOOD BANDS please. There’s a reason why Triple H’s theme with Motorhead is so amazing because it’s freakin’ Motorhead. Lemmy is a God and can perform amazing music. Hell, HHH has 3 amazing themes from Motorhead and they all standout.

Maybe today’s wrestling theme music is just reflective of today’s poor selection of male musical artists?

That’s why you need to hire a freakin’ composer who can create great themes. Whomever WWE and AEW may have just isn’t getting the job done. Tony’s family has billions, go find someone. Endeavor/TKO are flush with cash, go find someone.

And it’s not hard to compose music here in the 21st century. There are many indy artists who are making beats on their home computer. For example, pop star Billie Eilish is heavily reliant on her older brother Finneas as both a co-writer and producer of her music. He is very important to the operation and was producing much of her earlier music using a computer program called Pro Tools to assemble music and beats together to build great pop songs. The computer was in his freakin’ bedroom and Billie would record some of her biggest hits while sitting on his bed as he recorded!

You mean to tell me that neither WWE or AEW can’t find someone creative like that who can make theme music easily with today’s technology? Really?

Instead, both WWE and AEW contract with recent artists for songs they’ve already written and produced to use for a wrestler. The songs are often NOT tailored to the wrestler at all and just create a hot confusing mess for the wrestler as they enter the ring. Instead, it completely devalues the entrance which used to be an important tool to get the wrestler OVER before he even hits the ring. Now, because the entrances suck, wrestlers are now more reliant than ever on their promos or in-ring work. Some don’t have those talents… Bill Goldberg couldn’t wrestle nor could he talk, but that entrance got you pumped up and you were fine with a 3 minute squash match.

Watch Wrestlemania 40… Fans went BONKERS when they heard that GONG… They knew that the Undertaker was coming. Had Steve Austin’s glass shattering theme played, that whole stadium would have collapsed.

If I were AEW and wanted to get a leg-up on their competition, I’d take a hard look at theme music and trying to help use presentation tricks get their talents over rather than everybody being so critical of the in-ring stuff.

If I were WWE and wanted to grow even faster, take theme music seriously again… The mid-1990s were a tough period of time, YET you actually made money selling theme music CDs. Think about that… Declining numbers, yet fans want to buy the theme music of your wrestlers. And they aren’t buying as much of your music now with popularity growing again.

I know, I’m old man Tito yelling at the clouds again, but my hearing is just fine and yours isn’t, wrestling marks. Today’s theme music SUCKS with its emo singers and horrible compositions. The lack of sales and lack of popularity that transcends other industries (like sporting events) prove what I’m saying.

Wrestlers deserve better theme music.

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