Those WWF Smackdown spots just wouldn’t be the same without P.O.D.’s “Alive,” Creed’s “My Sacrifice” and Kid Rock’s “Cocky” blaring in the background. In many cases, shots of wrestlers powerbombing, chokeslamming and clotheslining one another are more captivating than the images in real rock videos.
Let’s face it, loud rock and wrestling go together like salted bacon and farm-fresh eggs, the aggressive tones and violent visuals feeding off each other, creating a charged symbiosis of pumping testosterone. With over-the-top sound and sight, all you need is a sweat-and-blood-soaked rag under your nose to create the ultimate sensory experience.
“Wrestling and heavy metal: It’s one and the same,” said Rob Zombie, who’s received strong album plugs onscreen every time wrestler Edge has entered the ring to one of Zombie’s songs. “It’s the same kids who are into both. I remember when we did this concert in Albuquerque, and Edge showed up and was going to come out onstage while we were playing. And he was like, ‘Man, I don’t even know if these kids are going to know who I am.’ I was like, ‘Don’t worry, they’ll know.’ He tried to walk out into the concession area to buy a hot dog, and he got mobbed in about two seconds.”
Of course. So given the obvious synergy, it makes perfect sense that the WWF continues to push albums of rockers playing the theme songs of their top grapplers. The latest, Forceable Entry, is currently perched at #3 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, having sold over 145,000 copies in its first week of sale.
On the disc, the Union Underground nab the RAW theme song with their galvanic, industrial “Across the Nation,” and Creed contribute “Young Grow Old,” a bonus track from Australian and New Zealand pressings of Human Clay. There are also remixes: Rob Zombie’s “Never Gonna Stop (The Black Cat Crossing Mix),” which has been adopted as Edge’s theme, and Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People (the WWF Remix).” It’s the recontextualized wrestlers’ themes, though, that make up the crux of the album, as they did on last year’s hip-hop disc WWF: The Music, Vol. 5, WWF: Aggression, which featured Snoop Dogg, ODB, Method Man, Kool Keith and others.
Forceable Entry includes Drowning Pool tackling Triple H’s theme on “The Game,” Kid Rock covering Stacy Kiebler’s theme on “Legs,” Disturbed taking a stab at Stone Cold Steve Austin’s theme on “Glass Shatters,” Breaking Point performing Rob Van Dam’s theme on “One of a Kind” and Sevendust reinterpreting Chris Jericho’s theme on “Break the Walls Down.”
And the avalanche of wrestling rock has just begun. On May 14, look for WWF: Tough Enough 2, which features Puddle of Mudd doing an acoustic version of “Mind Control”; Serj Tankian from System of a Down remixing a song by Rob Zombie; Limp Bizkit’s “Crushed”; and tracks by Staind, Godsmack, Unwritten Law, Injected, Bloodhound Gang and others.
When a band agrees to record a wrestler’s theme, it’s given a copy of the original tune written by WWF resident songwriter Jim Johnston, and told to use that as a framework for the composition. Some musicians enjoy mutating the existing track to suit their vision.
“That song was the funnest thing in the world to do, because when we heard the four-track version of it, I was like, ‘Man, this is so not us,’ ” Sevendust drummer Morgan Rose said. “It’s not even close to anything we would really do because we’re not a rap band. But [the WWF] said, ‘Just do whatever you want with it,’ so we basically gutted it and started doing it the way we did it and it was crazy. Jericho has used it coming out into the ring, and I would love to play it live, even.”
On the flip side of the ring, Disturbed felt constricted by the limitations placed upon them, and don’t think their WWF tracks represent their best work.
“The song is not even a song. It’s just a verse and a chorus that repeats,” grumbled Disturbed vocalist David Draiman. “We changed the riff quite a bit and made it heavier than it ever was. And I wrote a melody and a lyric for it, but we still had to stick to that whole thing that you already know so the fans still know that this was Stone Cold’s song. We did it because we were looking to have a heightened perception, and there was something about Stone Cold in particular that if there were anybody within that little cartoonish type of environment that we would advocate, maybe he would be the one.”
There’s no question that nÃ¼-noise helps sell wrestling, which is why Limp Bizkit’s “My Way” was used for the WWF X-Box video game and why Saliva’s “Superstar” and Drowning Pool’s “Tear Away” were adopted as Wrestlemania X8 themes. But WWF recordings can also propel the careers of burgeoning rockers. Breaking Point’s radio play picked up considerably after “One of a Kind” was adopted by Rob Van Dam, and Union Underground have also enjoyed the boost of sheer brawn since their song became the RAW theme. To capitalize, the band will release a new live EP in the coming weeks.
“This whole thing has given us amazing exposure we wouldn’t have had,” Union Underground vocalist Bryan Scott said. “Since we started airing on RAW, the response we’ve gotten has been amazing. Those people at the WWF definitely have their sh- together. It’s amazing how they can expose something in such a short amount of time, and we feel lucky to be a part of it.”
Outside of the obvious business benefits for both parties, having rockers work on tunes for wrestlers can be satisfying on a purely artistic level. When Triple H was looking to tweak his character, but didn’t like the music Johnson had composed for him, he solicited one of his favorite bands – MotÃ¶rhead – to record “The Game,” which wound up on WWF the Music, Vol. 5 and debuted at #2 on the albums chart with sales of 640,000 copies.
“I was like, ‘Go get ’em. Go get ’em,’ ” recalled Triple H. “So the WWF tracked MotÃ¶rhead down on the road in Germany, and they eventually recorded it in a studio in Moscow. The producer of our show comes to me one day and he says, ‘I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news. The good news is, I’ve got a track in hand. The bad news is there’s no vocals on it. Lemmy went down at a concert in Moscow and almost died and he’s in the hospital.’ Of course, you can’t kill Lemmy, he’s like a bad weed. So he kicked out of that and went from the hospital to the studio to record the track. It’s awesome.”