AEW ROUNDTABLE SPECIAL – THE BEST MUSIC IN AEW
Entrance music is one of the most important elements of any modern-day wrestler.
That may sound ludicrous in a form of entertainment that largely centres around punching people in the face, but it is undeniably true. Any iconic wrestler of the last few decades is inextricably linked to their chosen entrance music, and if we look back through our fondest wrestling memories they will often be accompanied by a musical soundtrack that widens the eyes, the ears and the mind.
Unsurprisingly AEW absolutely get this, and whilst WWE have seemingly been happy to let their new ‘stars’ come out to generic nonsense, Tony Khan and Co have set out to give as many of the roster as possible a memorable ditty to accompany them to the ring.
They have done this through a heady mix of spending money on the rights to existing songs (‘Where Is My Mind?’, ‘Wild Thing’ and ‘Tarzan Boy’ to name just a few) and, more thrillingly, using the work of the absolutely excellent Mikey Rukus to create new anthems.
So let’s celebrate the incredible work of Rukus and AEW in general by asking the members of ProWrestlingMusings.com to sit around the virtual table, plug in their headphones and wax lyrical about the finest tunes in the AEW audio-landscape.
This week's contributors are Gareth (@Gareth_EW), Peter (@PeterEdge7), Andy (@AndyDCollier), Sam (@BigBadaBruce), Tim (@TimmayMan), Jae (@Jaefinley13), Joe (@GoodVsBadGuys) Trish (@TrishSpeirs48) and little old me Dan (@WrestlingRhymes).
Q1 – Which entrance music gets your motor running and ready to head out on the highway more than any other currently in AEW?
[Gareth] Hook. Am I getting carried away? Yes. It’s been one match and I was already hyped for his debut. But when I heard Action Bronson blasting away as Hook strolled down to the ring like he didn’t even give a fook – I was in awe.
The hook (pun intended) going “you don’t even know me, you don’t even knoooowwww me” is never going to get old. It’s the perfect song for Hook’s laid-back demeanour but it also lowkey hypes me up. It really felt like a great MMA entrance. Like Conor McGregor in his prime. And the song was the cherry on the top of a great presentation.
[Tim] All About Tha (Boom). Rukus has created an absolute banger of a track for Adam Cole that harkens back to angry Rage Against the Machine. The best entrance music is instantly recognizable within three seconds, and this music does that perfectly. It gives the crown the chance for participation as they yell out “Boom!” at key moments and Cole’s mannerisms during his entrance sync up well. It’s high energy and it fits the character.
[Sam] Damn it, Tim, you beat me to it! However, one that has slowly grown on me over the last few years is ‘Hangman’ Adam Page’s piece. Not only does it have a recognisable intro hook that is reminiscent of the Four Horsemen, but the guitar piece also impacts differently depending on where we were in Page’s story. When alone or struggling, it had the mournful tone of a lone hero, but when confident, it has that heroic feel that helps psych you up. It’s the music of a champion.
[Peter] Varsity Blondes’ theme “City Lights” is one of those that’s going to get me looking for adventure, whatever comes my way. Is it a rip on Guns n’ Roses? Yes, but I love Appetite For Destruction so this is my jam. The song fits them perfectly with their throwback varsity gimmick and with Brian’s dad being a young gun when Welcome To The Jungle was making waves.
[Jae] Want a productivity hack? A way to motivate yourself to get things done? Put on FTR’s new-ish theme. Put it on repeat. Go about your procrastinated tasks. Go about your day. You’re welcome.
[Dan] Special shout out to ‘All About Tha’ Boom’ because with that one Rukus has made most people forget about Adam Cole’s previous NXT entrance music…and that is no mean feat.
But right now I absolutely adore Bryan Danielson’s entrance music, put together by his friend Elliot Taylor. Obviously the Ride of the Valkyries opening clarion call was iconic from Danielson’s time in WWE, but typically, Danielson has taken things a bit further in AEW. Adding the ‘you’re gonna get your f**king head kicked in’ refrain to that opening bombast was a stroke of genius. It links back to Danielson’s pre-WWE past, and also reminds us that when he wants to be, this loveable vegan can be a stone-cold killer. And now that part of his character is out in the open on AEW television? This entrance music is perfect.
[Andy] There is one theme song that I just can't get enough of and that belongs to Adam Cole. Having fan participation in an entrance can make even the quietest crowd get off their seats and this is done perfectly whenever Cole's music hits. Having a star like Cole should be exciting enough but mix in this entrance and you have a high point for any live audience - and those watching along can't wait to get into an arena and join in themselves.
[Trish] I never cared for Kenny Omega's "Battle Cry" theme until I heard it live but once I did it quickly became an addiction. The soft intro before the kick in of the bass gave Omega's entrance a sort of anticipation- like you knew something special will follow. When AEW turned up the volume at this year's "Double or Nothing" (having heard it sound much more impactful at the Rebellion PPV a month prior) it finally sounded like a theme fit for a champion.
Also acts as a very effective deterrent for noisy neighbours as well.
[Joe] Sam put to words many of my feelings about Hangman Adam Page’s music. It’s a theme fit for a Western Cowboy hero in a TV show or a movie. It’s melodrama done right. I also agree with Trish that Kenny Omega’s theme is a good one. It fits Kenny’s character, and the sound and lyrics could come across as cheesy, but it fits really well with Kenny’s aesthetic and style which seem heavily influenced by Japanese Role-Playing Games & Anime culture. The most fun songs at live events are “Tarzan Boy”, “Wild Thing”, - and even if you find it cringey because of Jericho’s potential political beliefs or because it’s hair metal in the 2020s – Jericho's Judas spreads fun, infectious energy, which is much better than other things that have been spread at Fozzy Concerts. However, this question to mean seemed to be about what gets your motor running, and no song sprints out of the gates ready for a fight quite like Eddie Kingston’s “Cold World”. The song hits you with intensity right out of the gate and it matches Eddie’s energy as he stomps through the tunnel and down the ramp. I’d like to see a match or segment where they keep Eddie’s music running the entire time while he cleans house and whoops people. “Ayo, the world is cold, better bundle up. If you see me comin’ at you, better knuckle up”.
Q2 – What is, in your humble musical view, an under-appreciated bit of AEW musical genius? The wrestling music equivalent of Bear’s Den (seriously go and listen to them).
[Gareth] Leyla Hirsch definitely has the most underrated theme song in AEW. Probably because we don’t see her anywhere near enough on TV. When the hook hits and Hirsch is charging around you can’t help but get pumped up!
[Tim] Hybrid Flow for TH2. It just makes me want to dance like Angelico. Runner up would be the brilliant decision to basically re-do Christian Cage’s TNA theme for 2021. I always thought that track was great and it’s a clever nod to his history as a performer.
[Sam] I’m not sure whether it’s truly underappreciated, but I don’t see enough respect on Sting’s theme song. Having started watching wrestling in ‘98, for me Sting will always be the Crow to me, and somehow Rukus was able to evoke that same sense of Iconic Warrior. Considering it also has slight elements of WWE’s tune as well, Rukus has proven a tremendous ability to make music for wrestlers such as Sting, Christian, Danielson, that encapsulate a vast majority of their career into one piece. Makes me want to see what he’d do with Samoa Joe.
[Peter] Considering it’s a one-off, the Elite Halloween theme to tie in their Ghostbusters get up won’t be that remembered in a couple of years' time but it is a really fun listen and considering it took Rukus such a short amount of time to compose it when the planned Squid Game-Elite plan was vetoed by TNT, it shows how good Rukus with this compositions.
[Dan] I’m a big fan of Ricky Starks’ entrance bonanza ‘It’s Live’, another Rukus original. We haven’t heard it much recently as Starks’ has largely been injured, interfering from outside the ring or on commentary on Rampage, but when we hopefully see him back in the ring, I hope this music gets the recognition it deserves. It has the big brassy opening, it has the slogan that can be shouted if and when Ricky becomes a babyface (“THE REVOLUTION IS TELEVISED”) and then it includes a tuneful swagger that really matches Starks’ demeanour. An excellent example of music written superbly for an individual’s character.
[Andy] I'd say this is overlooked due to his lack of in ring time but Sting's music is excellent. Those powerful guitar rifts and the rolling drums build up a sense that something iconic is about to happen. The theme has just enough similarities to his previous music that is recognisable whilst also being different enough that is original.
[Joe] I’ll agree that Sting’s music should get more play. I’ve attended 4 AEW events live this year and they haven’t played his music once, which has been a bummer as a huge Stiiiiing mark. However, to shine light somewhere else, Fuego Del Sol’s theme music has a very grand feel to it that you can bop along to. I attended a Warrior Wrestling event recently and realized that he has choreography for it where he tries to get the fans doing the Tornado DDT signal to the beat. This songs feels like it could have been for Ricky the Dragon Steamboat during his prime. Give it a listen if you haven’t already.
Q3 – Who, in your opinion, could benefit with a fresh coat of musical paint? And what sort of thing would you like to see them jigging along to as they waltz to the squared circle?
[Gareth] Wardlow’s song SUCKS! It is the cringiest “wrestling” song you’d find on a WWE 2K game for a Create-A-Wrestler. Also, when you think of the comparisons between Batista and Wardlow, one area they’re not similar is their theme songs. Batista’s was awesome, Wardlow’s is awful. I have the perfect solution.
Bulls on Parade by Rage Against the Machine except it’s not the original, it’s Denzel Curry’s cover of the song. Curry has worked with WWE for NXT and is a wrestling fan, so getting him involved wouldn’t be remotely hard. He’s also one of the coolest current artists. Working with him shouldn’t be a one-time thing. People who might end up getting into AEW care about Denzel Curry WAY more than they care about Snoop Dogg.
The vibe of the song fits Wardlow perfectly because the song, particularly Curry’s cover, feels like an explosion. Wardlow is a bull and his march to the ring is a parade. Even the political message of the song could easily be twisted into the context of Wardlow in some way. Get it done TK!
[Tim] Cody. The “not only one royal family of wrestling” is tired, the elaborate walk to the ring is torture, the lyrics are corny. If his character continues on the nationalistic front, I’d suggest something purely instrumental and bombastic (think of any national anthem). This could work for either a face or heel version of the character.
[Sam] As a slight aside first, one entrance theme I thought was unfairly moved on when it fitted perfectly was Private Party’s original song. While they may have moved onto ‘Shots’ after a suggestion from Chris Jericho, their first was more than good enough as it was. But in terms of those who need a change? Controversial, but I’m going to say MJF. This might be more due to the fact that it’s too reminiscent to the theme song for ‘Carmilla’, a web series about lesbian vampires, but also, MJF mostly cuts his music early on anyways. MJF’s music is a slow starter, so I feel you need something that hits quicker or even better, have it you just hear a voiceover saying “I’m Better Than You, and You Know It”. Imagine if you hear that line, and the MJF walks out with no music to the sound of boos. It might be sightly similar to Tommaso Ciampa’s entrance at NXT Takeover: New Orleans, but if anybody can make it work, it’s MJF.
[Peter] Hot take time. Bryan Danielson’s theme is really not very good. It sounds like something that would have sounded at home on Fergie’s solo album (I still have nightmares about London Bridge). I know paying for The Final Countdown is a problem with the extortionate fees that Europe are demanding but surely there was a better way than what got produced.
I mean, nothing says “You’re going to get your f****** head kicked in” than something that would be track nine on a Justin Bieber album.
[Dan] I don’t like Lance Archer’s music. Now let me just look up who wrote it so that I can tell them. Oh balls.
Genuinely though it almost feels a bit too ‘nice’ for Archer’s ‘MurderHawk Monster’ approach to the ring. It’s got a chorus. Monsters shouldn’t need choruses. So when he comes back from his current injury, I’d love to see him have a new tune and I would love it to be something incredibly disturbing and shouty. Like Slipknot…but good.
[Andy] For me the most disappointing theme song belongs to Dark Order. They are probably the most popular faction in wrestling and I don't think one person could tell you what their music is.
It's dull, quiet and too dreary for such a personality packed bunch. Perhaps that will change if they get pushed to the main event scene but with TK willing to spend big on music, I'm surprised they haven't had an upgrade.
[Trish] I'd like to see new music for Kris Statlander. Compared to a number of others in her division it just doesn't do enough to get fans excited for her entrance or match her strengths as a wrestler. If they are playing Red Velvet's song over your own for an entrance in your hometown then you probably need to change it up.
[Joe] I agree with Gareth and Andy that the most-needed overhauls are for Wardlow and The Dark Order. Wardlow should have a Goldberg-esque theme, and The Dark Order should have something that harkens to the vibe of The Goonies or Stranger Things. I would also like to see The Best Friends get some licensed music that is fun to sing, shout, and/or chant along to. I think I heard that they used to come out to “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers, and I’d be a very happy boy if Tony Khan purchased that for them.