In order to sell the idea of WWE Superstars being larger-than-life characters convincingly, they need to be presented as big deals at every opportunity. A critical requirement for such an image to be presented properly is entrance music. After all, when someone enters a room (or arena, in this case) accompanied by loud music, they’re bound to make heads turn.
The big question surrounding entrance themes, however, is this: when people turn to listen to an entrance theme, are they intrigued by it, or disappointed by how it sounds?
In WWE, the mastermind behind so many of their greatest themes was, for many years, Jim Johnston. Since 2013, however, Johnston has focused less on composing WWE Superstars’ entrance themes and has decided to focus more on WWE’s film division. In his place are two composers, John Alicastro and Mike Lauri, who are collectively known as “CFO$.” They have created most of the themes for today’s biggest WWE Superstars, and have even done some work on WWE’s other programs as well.
Like any artists, however, CFO$ aren’t perfect, and are guilty of creating just as many disappointing themes as they have made great ones. Some of the themes they’ve created fit their wrestlers perfectly and make fans jump to their feet when played. Others, meanwhile, leave a lot to be desired or don’t fit their associated wrestlers whatsoever.
So which themes belong in which category? Which seven themes did CFO$ do well and which ones left fans wanting less? Here’s our list.
(The 7 That Sucked) 7. Total Divas – ‘Top Of the World’
Listening to this song, it wouldn’t be surprising if you thought it was something you’d hear on a dance floor in Miami as opposed to something wrestling-related. The epitome of WWE’s bizarre obsession with reality TV, this theme has all the essential elements of an overproduced and manufactured pop song: a beat that barely qualifies as ‘catchy’, a repetitive and Auto-tuned chorus, and the kind of lyrics you’d expect Pitbull to sing in a collaboration.
While the theme does try to present the women of Total Divas as tough women, the attempt falls flat. Wrestling and pop music go together like oil & water; never meant to mix, and when they do it’s all just one big mess.
6. Cesaro – ‘Swiss Made’
You know a wrestler’s theme song is bad when the wrestler themselves cut an unscripted promo to fans telling them how much the theme sucks. Cesaro did this exact thing, speaking volumes on how much CFO$ dropped the ball with this theme.
It’s not hard to see (or hear, in this case) why. The theme starts off with the sound of an ambulance siren going off, followed by repetitive generic rock music interspersed with what sounds like scratching sounds. Yet the theme is called ‘Swiss Made’. There aren’t any elements of the theme that hint to his Swiss background in any way – unless repetitive sirens blaring and a repetitive heavy drum are both meant to be presented as elements of Swiss music.
Either way, this theme is the one thing that Cesaro absolutely must change as soon as possible, as his opinion of it is an accurate representation of how pretty much everyone else feels about it as well.
5. Sheamus – ‘Hellfire’
Unlike other entries on this list, this theme song isn’t here because it’s inherently ‘bad’; in fact, it’s one of the good ones done by CFO$, as it gives Sheamus an intimidating drum beat to walk to the ring to while still keeping a hint of Irish flavor to it.
No, what puts this song on this list is that it replaced the far more memorable one that Sheamus used beforehand, called ‘Written In My Face’. The reason that one is regarded so fondly by so many people is partly due to its more memorable lyrics that were at times open to interpretation. Replacing the existing lyrics with such words as ‘Lobster head’ and ‘too many limes’ added an element of fun to Sheamus’s entrance that made for an entertaining contrast that oftentimes contradicted the ultra-serious nature of his presentation. By taking that away from Sheamus, WWE have unfortunately stripped him of an unintentionally comedic element of an otherwise no-nonsense, ass-kicking machine.
4. Adam Rose – ‘Break Away’
Hearing this theme does not make me think of a professional wrestler. Nor does it even make me think of the dime-a-dozen dancing gimmicks that have been done over the decades. Instead, this theme brings up images of over-the-top nonsense and lack of character depth. Adam Rose, once known as ‘the Party Animal’ was given a theme song that was supposed to make him an upbeat fun-loving guy with a group of oddly-dressed partygoers who accompanied him wherever he went.
Sadly, as much as CFO$ might have tried to make this theme work, the visual of a guy dancing in a cheesy way with a bunch of party-goers with poor fashion sense (including one in a Bunny costume) totally destroyed the appeal of this entrance. The entrance theme ended up doing the opposite of what it was meant to do. Instead of making people enjoy his arrival, the sound of his theme’s chorus turned people away, especially once this ‘party posse’ took on a life of its own unnecessarily through the Bunny’s sudden involvement in Rose’s matches.
3. WWE RAW – ‘The Night’
Monday Night RAW has opened with many different themes over the years, and all of them have been better than this current theme. While previous themes featured guitar riffs, screaming, and other high-energy sounds that were meant to excite fans as the show began, ‘Tonight’s the Night’ is, by those standards, boring. Following a more ‘poplike’ formula, the theme song tries to describe what fans are expected to see through its lyrics, instead of letting their imaginations run wild.
Sadly, this song does little to nothing to get the viewer excited for the show it’s meant to open, which might explain why some fans aren’t as excited by RAW as in previous years. Maybe, just maybe, if the show opened with something that actually got fans’ blood pumping, they wouldn’t be so deflated after the first thirty minutes of the show.
2. Brie Bella – ‘Beautiful Life,’ a.k.a. “Brie Mode”
Fans have long been vocal critics of Brie Bella’s entrance theme, presumably because it sounds so… well, hard on the ears. It opens with an obviously Auto-tuned Brie yelling the signature phrase (which was never given a proper explanation), followed by a repetitive chorus of pop-influenced sounds.
The theme doesn’t add any extra layer to her character, and feels oddly out of place for a wrestler. In fact, this theme feels more ideal for a clichéd scripted ‘drama’ show than it does presenting someone as a tough women’s wrestler. So while Brie has improved as a wrestler in recent months, she’s still stuck with a disappointing entrance theme that fails to hype the crowd up in any way when it’s played.
1. Cameron – ‘#GirlBye’
To this day, no one is entirely sure what the term ‘Girl Bye’ even means. Is it meant to be an especially aggressive or vindictive way of saying goodbye to someone? Is it supposed to be a threat? Or is it meant to be a be-all/end-all way to end a conversation? Whatever this odd expression’s supposed to mean, it’s captured in the entrance theme for the woman who made the term “famous”, Cameron.
The theme is composed mainly of generic ‘pop’ sounds spliced with one-liners from Cameron herself. The whole theme screams ‘manufactured’ to a point where it doesn’t feel like it adds any depth to Cameron’s character. The theme leaves a lot to be desired, and doesn’t do much to draw attention to Cameron as a performer.
(The 7 That Rocked) 7. A.J. Styles – ‘Phenomenal’
In an era where entrance music is dominated by either generic rock or pop music, A.J. Styles’ entrance theme is refreshingly different. Composed in a way that borrows elements from Hip-Hop (with some commentators making connections to rap artist DMX), Styles’ theme makes him sound like a major threat from the moment he walks in.
With a chorus containing words like ‘They don’t want none’, it implies Styles is so good (read: phenomenal) at what he does that all of his opponents would rather avoid wrestling him, knowing that he’d demolish them if they did. The theme also does a fantastic job of painting Styles as a guy who came from humble beginnings to become one of the best wrestlers alive today, which is a highly-accurate account of how his career began and progressed.
6. Dean Ambrose – ‘Retaliation’
Dean Ambrose’s character and personality, those of a crazed and unpredictable lunatic, are captured perfectly in his entrance theme. Beginning with a heavy guitar riff that sounds very much like someone starting up a chainsaw, the theme implies that Ambrose gets crazier and crazier before reaching a crescendo of insanity.
Indeed, by listening to this theme, you can almost feel the craziness flowing through Dean as he comes into the arena. The aggressive guitar riffs and heavy drums do just as much to paint a picture of Dean Ambrose as a crazy glutton for punishment à la Mick Foley as anything else he does. On rare occasions, an artist can succeed with doing what they do best, and that certainly applies in this case.
5. The New Day – ‘New Day, New Way’
When The New Day first debuted, their entrance theme was a black gospel-inspired theme that emphasized a positive approach. It was a huge disappointment at first, but over time, the trio of Woods, Kofi and Big E turned the gimmick around, becoming one of the wackiest and most popular teams in WWE.
Even as their gimmick evolved, their entrance theme stayed the same. They still enter arenas to the tune of pseudo-gospel music and clapping sounds, both of which reinforce their gimmick. The beauty of this theme is its simplicity- the easygoing theme gives the New Day plenty of room to add different elements to each entrance. From dancing at different times, to adding ‘Francesca the Trombone’ as an additional component, New Day’s entrance theme manages to say far more with less.
4. Bayley – ‘Turn It Up’
Bayley’s entrance theme manages to match with her character perfectly. She’s a fun-loving, positive, and cheerful person who managed to reach the top of the NXT Women’s Division (no small feat) after growing up as a fan of pro wrestling. This enthusiasm and positive attitude translates perfectly into her entrance theme. Bayley’s more about having a good time and living her dream than she is about being a ruthless competitor, which is captured in the upbeat lyrics and instrument blend CFO$ used in this theme.
Add to this song the visual of those wacky, waving, inflatable-arm-flailing ‘Tube Men’ and you have an entrance that works perfectly for its associated wrestler. It’s catchy, it’s memorable, and it tells a story; what more could you ask of an entrance theme?
3. Asuka – ‘The Future’
The former Kana has one of the greatest themes in NXT right now. It’s a catchy rock theme with a great hook, fun lyrics, and is an overall easy listening experience. Moreover, despite sounding somewhat repetitive, the theme song actually fits Asuka’s character very well. Asuka’s theme song sounds totally badass, which is the best way to describe her as a wrestler.
Since the song is called ‘the Future’, that applies perfectly to Asuka- she represents the future of women’s wrestling in every way, so it makes perfect sense for her entrance theme to reflect that as well. Instead of giving her something generic or pop-influenced song, which is an unfortunate trend that seems to follow the ‘Divas’ of WWE, Asuka comes off as an intimidating wrestler, which makes for a far more entertaining sight than scripted drama.
2. Finn Balor – ‘Catch Your Breath’
If there was ever a theme that made someone seem like a much bigger star, it’s Balor’s. Starting with a tremendous and multi-layered build-up that lasts the first forty-five seconds, the theme then transitions into a strong guitar-led power anthem that’s easy to listen to. The theme song gives Balor plenty of opportunities to pose for the fans and give them moments to soak in the power of the music as well. Moreover, when you add the amazing visuals Balor adds to his entrance theme for big matches, you get one of the most exciting and memorable entrances in all of WWE.
Indeed, CFO$ did everything right with this theme: by creating a theme that gives Balor enough room to experiment with different visuals, they’ve given him an additional channel through which he can reach the audience, making him much more of a multi-layered superstar.
1. Shinsuke Nakamura – ‘The Rising Sun’
When WWE signed Nakamura, there was a lot of speculation about what they would do with his entrance theme. After all, his theme in NJPW, ‘Subconscious’ was one of the best themes used over the past decade, and worked really well to present his character as a wacky rock star. Thankfully, CFO$ did a good job in giving him something unique with his new theme, which combines dramatic crescendos with a catchy violin lead.
The sheer uniqueness of sound in this theme does wonders to distinguish Nakamura from everyone else, and it makes his entrances all the more interesting. Indeed, CFO$ did something great with this entrance piece; they made an actually catchy song that fans enjoy listening to as much as they enjoy seeing the wrestler it’s associated with. This is one of those rare themes that you could listen to over and over again, making it a true CFO$ masterpiece.