The WWE has made a significant amount of cuts to its roster, but the recent release of long-time company composer Jim Johnston may be the most shocking in recent memory.
Johnston started working for the WWE in 1985 and composed many of the company’s most iconic wrestling theme songs. He’s a reason why your favorite wrestlers became iconic with their epic entrance songs. Though he’s now out of the WWE, Johnston’s legacy is set for good thanks to his tremendous work in music for the company.
Here is a look at Johnston’s five best songs during his tenure with the WWE.
5. Vince McMahon: No Chance In Hell
WWE chairman Vince McMahon became one of the greatest heels in wrestling history, following the debut of the evil “Mr. McMahon” on-screen character in the Attitude Era. His epic “No Chance In Hell,” theme song resembles McMahon’s evil boss character perfectly.
Long-time fans of Stone Cold Steve Austin and D-Generation X knew something great was about to happen any time Mr. McMahon’s music played. He was the reason some of your favorite superstars became so legendary as McMahon made them look like heroes by playing the ruthless boss.
4. Hulk Hogan: Real American
Though it was actually Rick Derringer who sang this song, Johnston was the mastermind behind its composition. And believe us, no wrestling theme in the ’80s was as iconic as Hulk Hogan‘s “Real American“ theme. Every child knew to say their prayers and eat their vitamins once the song hit.
Hogan turned the WWF into a global powerhouse in the ’80s, and the “Real American” theme really set in stone everything great with the company. Any time Hogan won his match and the song started playing, you knew that all was good with the world. Hogan was a real American hero during his wrestling days, as the lyrics described.
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3. Stone Cold Steve Austin’s Theme
If it weren’t for Stone Cold Steve Austin, the WWF may have never escaped the Monday Night Wars. But thanks to the rebellious Texas Rattlesnake and his rivalry with Mr. McMahon, Austin helped WWF launch into the Attitude Era which helped put away WCW for good.
Austin is arguably the greatest and most beloved wrestler of all-time. Nothing got a crowd roar like the sound of shattered glass, followed by awesome entrances on beer trucks, Ford pickups or even four-wheelers.
The broken glass was a great symbol of Austin’s character—he broke the rules and never listened to Mr. McMahon. All these years later, and Johnston’s epic composition of Austin’s theme remains synonymous with WWE lore.
2. Shawn Michaels: Sexy Boy
After backstabbing Marty Jannetty and thus ending The Rockers alliance, Shawn Michaels had to develop his own singles competition character. So when he became The Heartbreak Kid, he needed a fitting song to play up to the character.
Enter Jim Johnston, whose “Sexy Boy” song became one of the most popular in the ’90s. Michaels played the too-good-for-you, pretty boy character for most of his career and the lyrics fit The Heartbreak Kid gimmick to perfection.
Michaels never changed his theme song once this was introduced early in his career. He had no reason to because Johnston had created one of the greatest themes in wrestling history.
1. The Undertaker: Rest In Peace
The Undertaker changed his gimmick up many times, but there was one constant: His “Rest In Peace” theme song, developed by the great Jim Johnston (except for his biker phase).
It doesn’t matter how old you are and what era of wrestling you’ve watched: When the lights went out and ‘Taker’s theme started playing, you knew business was about to go down.
The funeral-like music was the perfect sound for Undertaker’s “Deadman gimmick,” and it helped him create arguably the most iconic entrance in history. Johnston developed a historic masterpiece with this, hence why Undertaker‘s theme stayed relatively the same for nearly 30 years when he was playing The Deadman character.
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