WWE composer Jim Johnston is responsible for some of the most iconic entrance themes in WWE history thanks to his 32 years with the company. The composer sat down with Vice this week to name the top five favorite themes he created, most of which usually wind up on fans' lists for all-time great songs. Johnston's list started off with The Undertaker, saying, "I wanted it to sound like a funeral with the church bells and the organ, and for the music to go deeper than just the shallow nature of pure aggression that sits at the core of a lot of wrestling music. There's tragedy and sadness and all these different elements that touch on the mysterious back story of The Undertaker's character. I played the organ in a cinematic way and it was kind of an ode to Phantom of the Opera or a climactic scene in a classic horror movie.
"There's definitely a sadness that underpins my playing, and I think that came from me tapping into the one scar I consistently carried with me through my life; that classic dilemma of being the middle child and feeling invisible," he added. "Honestly, I always saw [writing this song] just as much as a psychological undertaking as a musical one."
From there he discussed two Attitude Era staples — "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and D-Generation X.
"The way my guitar parts play off one another is something I got from my love of funk music," he said of Austin's memorable opening. "I went through tonnes of sound effects for smashing glass, but none of them popped how I wanted. I ended up combining a glass smash with car crash noises, explosions, and even a bass note. The Stone Cold glass smash is a combination of all those things. When you hear it in an arena it's like an on and off switch, just like the Ultimate Warrior's theme used to be."
"A lot of people tell me this is a Rage Against the Machine type of song, but it was always a straight-up funk groove to me," Johnston said of DX's track. "It's a complete swing rhythm and I guess an ode to people like James Brown in terms of my chord progression."
His final two picks were The Rock (who saw his entrance altered and remixed numerous times throughout his WWE run) and Vince McMahon. He openly admitted he made the latter while he was angry at McMahon, and that emotion shined through.
"When I was writing Vince's No 'Chance In Hell' entrance theme, I had been really upset with him about something at work. I found myself thinking: 'You've got no chance against this guy!' He's got the power, the money, and in terms of pro-wrestling, he was pretty much the only game in town," Johnston said. "I had written the guitar groove much earlier, and I found myself singing 'No Chance...No Chance' over that groove. Rather than a song about one man, I wanted it to be about 'The Man'."
Which of Johnston's musical creations is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!0comments