Take a moment to think of some of your favorite, most memorable theme tunes in the world of wrestling. In this moment, you'll probably think of a few signature themes that have been glorified over the years. Some lines that'll likely come to mind might go a little something like this: "I am a real American..." or "I'm just a sexy boy..." or even more recently, "GLORIOUS!" What do these themes have in common? That they are all original productions. Wrestling companies have always prided themselves on producing wildly unique and original theme tunes that fit their superstars character's to a tee and manage to be a catchy tune in the heads of their fans. However, it's hard for any wrestling company to come up with original music material for every single wrestler who steps through their doors. At one point or another, every wrestling company has found themselves creating themes that are similar to classic hit records. Every wrestling company in the business has used hit songs for inspiration in creating wrestling themes, but in many instances, the songs have been ripped off desperately to the point that it's baffling that they never caught a lawsuit from the original songmakers. The following list shows just a handful of themes that are clear ripoffs of hit songs.
Before we start diving head first into this list with the general expectations of readers being that we are going to spend the entirety of the list tearing some themes apart, we actually are going to find ourselves praising many of these songs. Yes, a lot of these are bad ripoffs, but ripoff doesn't always equate to being bad. Bad in the unlawful and immoral sense of the word, yes. And yes, plagiarizing music is never a particularly "good" thing, but there have been cases where the ripoff has nonetheless turned out just as good, if not better, than the original song. It's the same reason why certain hit songs out there have withstood the test time and became hit records despite being outright ripoffs of other hit songs (i.e. "Blurred Lines). There are a lot of bad ripoffs on this list, but there are also a lot of good ones so if you find yourself liking some of these themes, don't be surprised or ashamed. Just nod your head to the beat while scratching your head as much as we are when it comes to trying to figure out just how on Earth some of these companies got away with these blatant ripoffs.
22 15. Chris Jericho - Even Flow by Pearl Jam
Chris Jericho has admitted on numerous occasions that he hated his WCW theme. Some of us wonder if he also hates Pearl Jam or their song "Even Flow." In either case, Jericho's WCW theme sounded exactly like the Pearl Jam track. If one were to play the two songs back to back and side by side, it would be easy to mix up which one was the original because they sound so similar. Jericho probably has no ill will towards Pearl Jam, but he must certainly hate their song "Even Flow" given how similar these two tunes sound. They sound so much alike that you can't like one without liking the other or disliking one and disliking the other song.
With the overshadowing singles success of his brother Scott looming in the background, many people forget that Rick Steiner had a singles run of his own while in WCW. Those that do remember will recall that his theme sounded a whole lot like the classic Guns N Roses track, "Welcome to the Jungle." Depressingly enough, the unanimous thought that Steiner's theme sounded like an unquestionable ripoff of the Guns N Roses song was the most memorable aspect of his singles run. It wasn't a terrible theme either. Just appallingly similar to Guns N Roses.
21 13. Raven - Come As You Are by Nirvana
When Raven jumped ship from ECW to WCW, the folks at WCW knew that they needed to come up with a theme that could perfectly match Raven's grungy look and attitude. They figured something grungy like—and the key word here is "like"—Nirvana's "Come As You Are." Aside from some added guitar riffs, this sounds exactly like "Come As You Are," if not then a more lowkey version on a budget. As a theme, it definitely works of Raven. It's just that, like with many of the themes on this list which ripped the more popular songs mentioned here, the similar sound to Nirvana is distracting to the point that it overshadows both the superstar and their character.
19 12. Michael Bennett - Beast by Nico Vega
In more recent years, the indie rock band of Nico Vega have been on an indefinite hiatus and haven't recorded any new music since 2014. However, one would be forgiven if they thought that the band came out of retirement to re-record their hit song for TNA superstar, Mike Bennett. When The Miracle debuted in TNA in 2016, his theme song sounded oddly similar to Nico Vega's 2013 single, "Beast." So similar that his theme sounds less like a copy and more like TNA lifted the actual song from Nico Vega's records and removed the vocals.
18 11. Jeff Jarrett - Cowboy by Kid Rock
There comes a point when the word "ripoff" no longer does justice to a ripoff song. Something along the lines of "remake" sounds more fitting when describing Jeff Jarrett's WCW theme. This theme goes beyond that of a ripoff as if WCW deliberately set out to remake Kid Rock's "Cowboy" entirely. The only difference is a few added guitar riffs and Kid Rock's voice being replaced by some ominous narrator screeching about a Chosen One. WCW more or less copied and pasted Kid Rock's anthem and put their own little spin on it. The same can be said for a lot of themes on this list, but for someone, it just sounds the most glaring for this one. Whether this constitutes as a good "remake" or "ripoff" is up for debate.
17 10. Kurt Angle - Lunatic Fringe by Red Rider
Since this attributes to one of the older songs on this list (came out in 1981), you'd be forgiven for not knowing anything about the band or the song they produced. Before you even ask, no, other than sharing the nickname, "Lunatic Fringe" has nothing to do with Dean Ambrose. "Lunatic Fringe" was written by a Canadian rock band whose guitarist wrote the song in response to being afraid of a resurgence of antisemitism during the 1970s. Oddly enough, TNA thought that such an emotionally heavy song was fit for Kurt Angle as he entered their company. Unfortunately for them, since they couldn't afford the rights (or were too cheap to buy them), they had to settle on creating a ripoff instrumental. Admittedly, it actually turned out to sound like an awesome TNA production that highlighted Angle as a badass Olympic machine. Then, shortly afterwards, it got even more awesome when rap lyrics were added to fit Angle himself.
15 9. DDP - Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
This is perhaps the most well known ripoff on this list. DDP's theme sounds so eerily similar to "Smells Like Teen Spirit" that it's hard to believe it isn't the same song. As DDP explained in an interview with Kayfabe Commentaries, the theme's producer, Jimmy Hart, took the Nirvana song and changed the notes around to create DDP's theme and so it sounds similar to the song, it's not actually the song. At least that's how DDP explained it. For one thing, that kind of explanation helped WCW out of a pickle when Dave Grohl unsuccessfully tried to sue WCW. It also explains why WCW and so many other companies were able to get away so often with ribbing off classic songs. It's pretty clever when you think about it.
14 8. Christian Cage - My Last Breath
When Christian first made the jump from WWE to TNA under the new guise of Christian Cage, he was set to be re-christened as the company's top face and a legitimate main eventer. After spending the entirety of his WWE career at that point as a midcarder, it was going to take TNA a lot of work before they could re-mold Christian as the main event talent they wanted to promote. The first place they started with his transformation was his TNA theme. A main eventer needed something epic as their theme and from the sounds of it, they used epic rock band Evanescence as a template. The song in question is "My Last Breath" and Christian's version of the song sounds practically identical to the original song. All that's missing are Amy Lee's vocals. Kudos to TNA to not only perfectly duplicating the original song as if they cloned it, but still making it sound like an epic tune. This theme helped give Christian the main event vibe fit for a World Champion.
13 7. Carmella - Fancy by Iggy Azalea
This is one of the more obvious ripoffs any wrestling fan can come across. Riding the coattails off the fresh success of Iggy Azalea's "Fancy" track, the Princess of Staten Island started strutting down the ramp to "Fabulous." Like many of the themes on this list, it fits her character perfectly and whether or not this is actually a "good" theme depends on the tastes of the listener. One thing is for sure is that since these two tracks sound so similar, it's hard to like one and not the other or, for some, hate one and hate the other just as much.
11 6. Dudebusters - Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve
For those who don't remember The Dudebusters, they were the tag team of Caylen Croft and Trent Baretta. Debuting in WWE in 2009, their run lasted about as long as it takes to make cup of coffee before Croft was released less than a year later. The Dudebusters failed to make much of an impact or impression on WWE soil, but their theme sure did. Mostly because anybody who ever heard "Bitter Sweet Symphony" by The Verve thought their theme sounded extremely familiar. This one didn't even try to hide the fact that this song was a ripoff. If this doesn't sound like The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" to you—which, if you ever heard the song, this should really sound like a slightly altered version of the hit single—then take note of the fact that the title of this WWE theme is "Semisweet Symphony." If that doesn't convince you The Dudebuster's theme was a ripoff, I don't know what will.
10 5. Roderick Strong - The End of Heartache by Killswitch Engage
Unlike most of the songs on this list, Roderick Strong's NXT theme is admittedly more of a homage than a bonafide ripoff. Strong has used "The End of Heartache" for years now on the independent scene, most notably in Ring of Honor. Since he is so closely associated with that theme, it's hard to think of a way to give Strong a theme that does the same justice to his character. Thankfully, the music creators behind WWE decided to fittingly pay tribute to the Killswitch Engage track when producing Strong's new NXT theme. Surprisingly enough, this theme sounds enough like "The End of Heartache" that the Killswitch Engage influence is noticeable, but there is enough of a slight difference that it feels like it's own song. If you're gonna try and ripoff a well known tune, this is how it's done right.
6 4. EC3 - Light 'Em Up by Fall Out Boy
Ethan Carter III's "Trouble" theme has been long beloved by the wrestling community as a whole. Everywhere he's wrestled with this playing as his entrance theme, he's managed to get crowds around the world to do the wave in unison to the beat of the song. Although, the entire wrestling community is in agreement that this is a ripoff of Fall Out Boy's "My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark." Apart from different lyrics and a title that's eight words shorter than the Fall Out Boy track, "Trouble" clearly has a similar sound going for it. Since Fall Out Boy released their track in February 2013 and EC3 debuted in October 2013, TNA staff had to have heard the original song at some point in that space of time and thought it would make a good theme for one of their superstars. Regardless, people around the world seem to love this theme.
4 3. Dalton Castle - I Want It All by Queen
The bulk of this list includes entries from WWE, TNA, and WCW, but let's mention ROH for a second. While Ring of Honor is synonymous for producing some original catchy tunes, they're not above ripping off the occasional song or two. One of their most blatant ripoffs in recent memory is the song produced for Dalton Castle's entrance theme. Titled "Dalton Wants It Now," ROH doesn't even try to hide the fact that his theme rips off "I Want It All" by Queen. And that isn't necessarily a bad theme. Castle's flamboyant and ambiguously gay gimmick perfectly embodies the spirit of Queen and so it only makes sense for his theme to match one of their biggest hit songs. The ripoff theme actually fits Castle to a striking tee.
3 2. Jack Swagger - Testify by Rage Against The Machine
For some reason, WWE thought that a Rage Against The Machine song was fitting for their new fresh faced All American American superstar, Jack Swagger. There is no way this theme just coincidentally sounds like "Testify" by Rage Against The Machine because Jack Swagger's theme was recorded by a Rage cover/tribute band called Age Against The Machine. Unless Vince McMahon just went up to the first band he saw and told them "Here's some money, now make Jack a song," then WWE fully expected Swagger's first theme to sound the way it does. Why that would be the case is hard to understand given that it never exactly fit Swagger's character, but the fact remains that this is an unapologetic ripoff of a classic Rage song.
Of course Vince Russo would find a way to ruin one of the greatest songs to ever grace the rock genre. Whenever the classic "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath starts playing, it is usually accompanied by the badass presence of a guy who is worthy of coming out to that kind of music. For WCW on a weekly basis, it was a scrawny pipsqueak writer named Vince Russo coming out to the Black Sabbath classic. Well, kind of. It was a variation of that Black Sabbath classic, but it sounds so similar to the original rock track that it might as well have been the Black Sabbath song. Either way, it was an unfitting ripoff of an awesome song wasted on the man who many would argue destroyed WCW. And apparently, destroyed what was once an awesome song as well.
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