By Jason Powell
I don't buy WWE music. I don't listen to WWE music unless I hear it on a WWE television show. However, I love the music of pro wrestling - good, bad, and downright cheesy. I am old enough to remember a time when no entrance music was used during pro wrestling entrances. Yes, dinosaurs were still roaming the earth. As much as I enjoy the pro wrestling's past, I can't imagine pro wrestling now without the music.
Good entrance music sticks with you, and there's nothing better than a great opening hook that makes you instantly recognize who a song represents.
Where would the industry be right now without the deep thoughts of a true artist who went to a very dark place in his mind to find the words "He does this, he does that, he big as a bull, and as quick as a cat" when writing the legendary lines for WCW's "The Man Called Sting" entrance theme? Hey, I told you I love the cheese too.
I do not enjoy cornball lyrics or the ridiculousness of a poorly conceived overall entrance theme when they are current, but I eventually find a soft spot for them once enough time passes.
The WWE DVD "Signature Sounds: The Music of WWE" does not include the truly awful "The Man Called Sting" entrance music, but it does include a fun mix of good, bad, and cheese in its top 25 countdown.
Most importantly, the DVD is filled with commentary from Jim Johnston, the man who has composed most of the iconic WWE theme music. It was a rare treat when Johnston appeared on "The Steve Austin Show" podcast recently, and his role on this DVD makes the DVD.
Johnston is often shown playing the basics of the song on a piano or on the guitar, and he offers insight into what he was going for when he created the songs. There are also a few clips of bands such as Saliva and Rev Theory getting together in the studio to perform entrance themes, and Johnston told the story of how Lil' Kim left her impression, literally, in the WWE studio forever.
The top 25 list the DVD is built around felt trivial to me. Music is too subjective to get caught up in which song should be higher or lower on the list. Nevertheless, most of the big themes you would expect to be in the top 25 were there along with a mix of past and sometimes present comments from the wrestlers on their theme music.
The 52-minute documentary portion of the DVD flies by and left me wanting more. They easily could have stuck with the same 25 songs and doubled the length of the documentary. They breeze through each song quickly and this feels more like a quick WWE Network show rather than an actual documentary. Even so, the rare insight from Johnston makes it worthwhile.
The DVD caps out at 90 minutes with the bonus features, which include comments from Johnston about some of the songs that didn't make the list. Austin never brought up the deliciously ridiculous "Ass Man" theme song when he interviewed Johnston, but it's covered here! He loves to pick 'em?!?
Grading on a one to five scale, the DVD gets a 2.5 rating because it felt like a WWE Network countdown show turned into a DVD rather than something bigger. It is a must see for fans who truly enjoy the theme music and want to hear from the man who created so much of it (there were a couple of Jimmy Hart songs on the list, but he was not interviewed for the DVD for some reason). I came away feeling happy that I saw it, yet not feeling like I would need to dish out the $14.93 (SRP) to own it for repeat viewing.
I hope that the WWE production team takes on this project again someday and goes deeper. The music here was mostly from the Attitude Era through now. I'd like to know more about the older themes, and I'd also like to see them branch outside WWE music. Granted, there isn't a ton of non-WWE entrance music (ECW music can't really be included since it was unlicensed and acquiring the rights would be ridiculously expensive), but for instance I would like to hear about the NWO theme or Michael Hayes' "Badstreet USA" just to name a couple...