When AEW began in 2019, so did their own brand of entrance music which was, to be blunt, forgettable. It’s come a long way since then. That doesn’t mean the music was bad in the early days, rather just lacking a distinctive identity when paired with the wrestlers. It wasn’t the case across the board of course, as we’ll get into, but the trend was certainly there.
Entrance music is an easily forgotten yet intrinsic part of a character, it’s also a lost art in a post-Jim-Johnston-WWF era. So let’s have a look at where the craft began, where it is now, and where AEW are taking it in the future.
Entrance music can be traced back to the likes of Gorgeous George using Pomp & Circumstance in the ‘40s and ‘50s. Examples can be found before that if you look hard enough, but that’s where the idea started to find traction. It was the ‘80s, a decade of bright colours and shouty fellas where the concept really took hold. The decade was also the beginning of in-house music producers in the then WWF with the likes of Jimmy Hart producing some decade-defining classics.
Making entrance music yourself meant that you didn’t have to deal with that pesky thing called “royalties”, which is also why many wrestlers would use classical pieces. As it happens, music normally only lasts around seventy years before the copyright expires and it reaches the public domain -take Ric Flair, Randy Savage/Gorgeous George, and Jerry Lawler for example, the cheap scamps.
Jim Johnston helped define the WWF/E of the nineties through to the twenty-tens, and while they’d still license music from time to time -a lá The Hardy’s and Kane’s themes- it was pretty much all down to Johnston.
Nowadays, rather than designing a theme song for a character, the music is more based on current trends. We’ve had a long period of relative blandness for many years now, and while the likes of Nakamura, Samoa Joe, and Bobby Roode’s NXT themes made their way through, it’s been a pretty trying time for wrestling music. Then AEW appeared.
AEW started quite plainly, which was fair enough really. A new company with a full roster of talent that quickly needed music would’ve hardly left much time for a creative process, especially when you consider that not all of them would have had a defined character, to begin with. Now though they’ve gone an interesting route, that being licensed music. There are still some great in-house tracks of course like Best Friends’ music, but it’s the officially licensed songs that are getting the fans interested.
You could say it all started with Jericho’s Judas. It is, after all, written and performed by his own band, Fozzy, so it only makes sense they’d use it. Considering the fan sing-along that occurs every time it’s played, you can understand why they’d want more like it. With the likes of Jungle Boy now using an AEW-licensed Tarzan Boy by Baltimora and Orange Cassidy strolling out to Pixies’ Where Is My Mind? and AEW is pretty much turning into a weekly gig.
Where Do They Go From Here?
While nobody wants to see a WCW level of unnecessarily excessive spending, more of this type of thing would be encouraged. Licensing music is expensive, especially if it’s an already well-known tune. While you always run the risk of these tracks becoming overplayed, they’re proving to be a joy to hear so far. Judas hasn’t got tired yet, has it? You can be the judge of that one.
Indies sneakily use unlicensed music regularly, but AEW is on national TV so they can’t get away with that sort of thing. Licensing a famous tune for every wrestler isn’t going to be very financially productive of course, though if they keep doing it sporadically as they are now and making sure that the song is relevant then it’s only going to make the shows better and get the live crowd more involved. All we need now is for them to get Dexys Midnight Runners’ Come On Eileen and Erasure’s A Little Respect and AEW will have the most sing-along-able lineup in rasslin’ history.