Music makes the people come together. Yeah. Since sometime in the 1980s, professional wrestlers have been using the power of song to connect with their fans before they even enter the ring. While it’s been disputed who exactly innovated the idea of entrance music, there’s no question to the fact it absolutely revolutionized the business, with the best themes telling fans everything they needed to know about their favorite superstars in succinct fashion. Or at least that’s what the good ones do.
In contrast to the many great songs that have defined the careers of legendary WWE superstars, there have also been a few dozen outright atrocious tunes that may or may not have been directly responsible for certain wrestlers failing to become successful. It’s probably not ever fair to say entrance music alone stopped a potential WWE Hall of Famer from breaking through to the main event, but it is worth noting that some middling wrestlers did indeed shoot up the card by switching to some more memorable tunes.
Some traditionalists may debate just how important a soundtrack is to pro wrestling in general, and yet even the most old-school shows around will adhere to the modern trend in giving the top performers some personalized songs. The only real question is whether or not it will help. Keep reading to learn about 8 wrestlers made by their entrance music, and 7 killed by it.
15 GOOD MUSIC: The Wyatt Family
At this point, following the buzzards is virtually the only thing Bray Wyatt has left keeping his gimmick alive. Not too long ago, he was considered one of the most impressive rising stars in WWE, with his microphone skills in particular noted as some of the best in the business. Strangely, it was his time as WWE Champion and subsequent ongoing feud with Randy Orton that caused the fire to largely go out, and now most fans instinctively boo Wyatt’s every match. Except, of course, during his entrance, when the slow ethereal music creates a perfect atmosphere for the fireflies to raise their cell phones in solidarity. The entrance worked so well it also made instant stars of Erick Rowan, Luke Harper, and Braun Strowman, the last of whom has arguably eclipsed them all without the power of music.
14 BAD MUSIC: Steven Regal
Well, he’s a man, all right. William Regal may be one of the most respected names in WWE today, but he probably wouldn’t have reached this level using the gimmick he was originally saddled with upon his debut. While there’s a chance Regal could have survived wearing flannel and even a hard hat, no one could have overcome a booming voice chanting about his manliness during their entrance. Even Regal must know how ridiculous it was at the time, and Daniel Bryan most definitely did during a rib that made it to the air on an episode of WWE Superstars. Well after Regal actually started to gain some legitimacy as a performer, his former student pranked the Real Man’s Man by playing his old theme before the two had a match on the little watched C-Show.
13 GOOD MUSIC: The Sandman
In many ways, Extreme Championship Wrestling was a company that valued attitude and image over actual wrestling ability, and no one individual better exemplified this attitude than The Sandman. Sure, the guy knew how to swing a Singapore cane, but even a simple piledriver gave him trouble until the very end, and it was one of his signature moves. Although the ECW could indeed be vicious to wrestlers that didn’t fit their definition of a wrestler, Sandman eschewed all that by getting them to chant along with Metallica’s most famous song "Enter Sandman" while he drank a bunch of beers and stumbled towards the ring. That the downside was Sandman getting too intoxicated to actually wrestle merely proves the point his entrance and music was the true key to his success. It’s also worth pointing out his fans always complain when companies won’t pay for the trademark tune.
12 BAD MUSIC: Rob Conway
Theoretically, a superstar having a sound-a-like theme with a famous musician could easily be a good thing. If the music sensation resonates with wrestling fans, chances are they’ll like that wrestler by association, as well. If the bard in question is known for satirical tunes and TV theme songs, the wrestler will seem like a joke in every sense of the word. Case in point, Rob Conway, who entered the ring to a song that even he knew sounded like a Randy Newman song. Titled “Just Look at Me,” the jaunty piano-based romp called to the “Short People” and “Political Science” scribe to such a degree it made fans assume Conway was supposed to be some sort of parody. That wouldn’t be a bad thing if WWE had the subtlety to create an actual parody wrestler, but unfortunately that wasn’t the intention at all.
11 GOOD MUSIC: Rikishi
The evolution of The Sultan into Rikishi Fatu came so completely out of nowhere that many fans forget how low key his career was prior to discovering his money gimmick as a plus-sized hip hop dancer. It was also largely forgotten that he was a former WWE Tag Team Champion as one of The Headshrinkers, a stigma he at least partially had to shake before breaking through to the main event. Oddly enough, the trick turned out to be teaming up with Too Cool and stealing their music, dancing along to the beat better than either of the cruiserweights could dream of doing. Soon enough, Rikishi was more popular than both Scotty II Hotty and Grandmaster Sexay combined, earning him a feud with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Unfortunately, this feud proved just how important Rikishi’s music was, as his popularity instantly disappeared when he switched themes.
10 BAD MUSIC: T.L. Hopper
Quite frankly, there’s only one way to put it. T.L. Hopper’s theme song during his short stint in the WWE Universe was pure crap. There were pros and cons to Vince McMahon’s fascination with gimmicks based on his employees needing day jobs. Once in a while, someone came along who could actually make these silly ideas work, but most of the time fans were stuck with weirdos like T.L. Hopper, the wrestling plumber. Hopper had it worse than most of the others, though, because his music was literally the sound of toilets flushing, again and again. No amount of clever character work could possibly turn this gimmick into a winner, and it absolutely killed Hopper’s push outright. Prior to WWE, he was a top star with SMW, and never again would he come near that sort of status. In fact, one could say his career went straight down the hopper.
9 GOOD MUSIC: Goldberg
For all the negative criticism levied upon WCW in regards to their inability to make new stars, even Vince McMahon would agree they pretty much nailed it with Goldberg. Absolutely everything about the execution of Da Man was perfect, from his low-key debut up to his bombastic WCW Championship victory over Hollywood Hogan. From day one, a big part of what created his mystique and image were the booming drums, and the ethereal and emphatic string arrangement, all of which made the perfect soundtrack for fans chanting his name. Only a handful of theme songs have caused fans to chant along, and whether they were initially piped in or not, the Goldberg chants eventually reached a point where they were the loudest in the company without any exception. With all that said, WCW still managed to botch the landing, taking the epic song away from him in favor of a forgettable late-period Megadeth dirge called "Crush 'Em."
8 BAD MUSIC: Mark Henry
Sometimes it takes a few years for a superstar to truly find their calling, and on the surface, it would appear this was the case with Mark Henry. Signed in the mid-'90s, it wasn’t until around 2010 that fans truly started connecting with the World’s Strongest Man on a level that put him into the main event. A closer inspection would reveal the truth, though, which is that Henry was stuck in a number of horrible gimmicks that made it highly unlikely he could be anything but a massive joke. Worst of all was his turn as Sexual Chocolate, a plus-sized love machine who flirted with anything that breathed. While it’s the Mae Young relationship that everyone remembers, Henry was already dead the first time he used a Barry White knock-off to prepare for anything other than love.
7 GOOD MUSIC: The Honky Tonk Man
With his long sideburns and hair slicked back, the Honky Tonk Man was so ready to groove around the WWE Universe in his pink Cadillac he wrote a song about it. Well, Jim Johnston wrote it, but Honky sang it and was rewarded for his singing in the style of an Intercontinental Championship reign that set a record still revered to this day. In fairness to the Honky Tonk Man, his character work was as integral more integral to his success than most others on this list, as not anyone could make an Elvis impersonation gimmick work. However, the most important key to mocking Elvis is the singing, and that meant Honky being able to pull off the tune was his biggest challenge in nailing the role. He pulled it off with a gusto every time, making him live up to his claim as the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time.
6 BAD MUSIC: Ted DiBiase Jr.
All things considered, if nothing else, T-Pain is a much more appropriate musician for WWE to base a sound-a-like song than Randy Newman. This time around, the problem was that they picked entirely the wrong performer to own the song. Named “I Come From Money” and matching that title through the lyrics, DiBiase Jr.’s theme was accurate enough in summing up his relationship to his WWE Hall of Famer father. However, DiBiase Jr. never had the charisma of his father, and the song required a certain swagger that he simply didn’t possess. In just about every way, it was obvious DiBiase Jr. would never be the performer his father was, regardless of the fact he was perfectly acceptable in the ring. The bright side is that apparently DiBiase Jr. didn’t seem to care about the business either way, walking away from WWE to spend time with his family.
5 GOOD MUSIC: Kane
Critics of pro wrestling’s more sports entertainment based tendencies may have expected to see The Undertaker on this list, and yet he saved himself with incredible dedication to the gimmick, not to mention and considerable skills inside the ring. His kayfabe little brother Kane, on the other hand, owes just about everything to the hell, fire, and brimstone from whence he came. It’s hard for younger fans to remember it today, but during the first few months of his run, Kane was absolutely terrifying every time he set foot in the ring. The lights went out, organs played, and literal hellfire rose from the turnbuckles, all to the sound of a beat. Kane’s theme songs evolved over the years and his popularity always shifted with them, generally fading away entirely the rare times he had particularly bad tunes.
4 BAD MUSIC: Billy Gunn
Once upon a time, there was a wrestler named Billy Gunn. Billy had a pretty great run in the tag team division with numerous partners, and his boss Vince McMahon always believed that there was something special about him. Vince believed in Billy so much he decided it was time for the kid to break away from his partners and become a WWE Championship contender, making him King of the Ring in 1999 to set up the move. And then, Vince decided Billy should stop caring about anything except his people’s butts, and proudly walk down to the ring with music loudly proclaiming such. Look, we get it. Trash talk can get kind of weird, and there’s lots of focus on butts in general. However, someone calling himself an "Ass Man" when they should be focused on fighting is a sign of poor prioritizing, to say the least.
3 GOOD MUSIC: The New Age Outlaws
Speaking of that wrestler named Billy… neither the future Ass Man nor former Jeff Jarrett lackey Jesse James looked like they had much a chance of becoming anything special at the onset of the Attitude Era. In fact, both of their careers looked like they could be over unless something unexpected happened real quick, and lo and behold, James found the solution by suggesting the two form a team. More importantly, he also decided to change his name to Road Dogg and start singing an incredibly catchy pre-match spiel ad nauseam. Suddenly, The New Age Outlaws went from being on the chopping block to winning numerous WWE Tag Team Championships and becoming one of the most popular duos in company history. Part of it was that they worked well together, and yet the bigger issue was the theme song, which made fans happy to see them regardless of what was about to happen in the ring.
2 BAD MUSIC: Right To Censor
Everyone knows that wrestling heels are supposed to be annoying, and Vince McMahon’s relationship with the Parents Television Council guaranteed any wrestler based on the public watchdog organization would take this characteristic to the limit. If that was the point, the Right to Censor’s blaring alarm entrance music definitely achieved it’s goal, and yet the cost was fans plugging their ears in anger each time they made an appearance. Somehow, McMahon failed to realize heels are supposed to be annoying through their words and actions, not on a level that was literally painful to an audience’s hearing. The only member of the group able to achieve this on any level was Ivory, which is why she was the sole RTC representative to win a singles title or have any sort of favorable status with fans.
1 GOOD MUSIC: Gangrel
There are wrestlers whose careers benefited from their entrance music, there are wrestlers whose careers got hurt by their entrance music, and then there’s Gangrel—a wrestler whose career was 100% determined by the way he walked to the ring. With Gangrel, it was mostly that he rose from beneath the stage in a ring of fire, and yet the proper music to set the scene was key in making it actually look cool. Considering Vince McMahon’s trademark inability to understand pop culture he didn’t create, it would have been entirely possible for WWE to miss the mark on the whole vampire thing. Luckily, they found just the right blend of twinkling organs and trip-hop intensity to create a wrestling vampire that actually resonated with Attitude Era fans. As always happens, without the music and entrance Gangrel was nothing, his career fast blinking out of existence.