09th Sep2015

‘Signature Sounds: The Music of WWE’ Review

by Phil Wheat

SIGNATURE_SOUNDS_DVD_2D

Music has been integral in WWE history, especially anthems for all the greatest WWE Superstars. Since Sgt. Slaughter first made his entrance to the Marine Corp hymn in the early 80s, music themes have become synonymous with the WWE Superstars – who doesn’t remember Hulk Hogan’s “Real American” theme? Or the Ultimate Warrior’s high-energy entrance music? Even years after the stars retire, the songs live on.

Just hearing the first few notes brings the crowd to their feet. They are the songs that let the WWE Universe know that business truly is about to pick up. Now, this new DVD gets fans behind the music to learn the inside story behind the timeless anthems of WWE and its Superstars.

Featuring interviews with the man behind the music, Jim Johnston, who composes all WWE music - Signature Sounds: The Music of WWE counts down the 25 most memorable tracks from the WWE’s history. From Batista’s “I Walk Alone” to the (frankly awful) Chachala theme for Fandango, there’s something here for everyone to love… and hate!

One of the fluffiest WWE home video release I’ve seen for some time, Signature Sounds: The Music of WWE, is a back-slapping journey through the career of Jim Johnston, a man who – if you’ve watched recent episodes of Total Divas – is probably as egotistical as the WWE superstars themselves. Sadly the brief running time, the entire programme runs just over 50 minutes, means that there’s not time to really explore the creation of these iconic theme songs in depth. Instead we get a brief talking head with the wrestler whose song it is, a clip of the song (often overlaid with voiceover) and then a talking head with Johnston who tends to just say something as shallow as “I had this idea and ran with it” – offering no real explanation into how his process works beyond the odd allusion to other musical references and an occassional breakdown of a riff.

Thankfully its not ALL Jim Johnston (though it does feel that way for the most part). Signature Sounds: The Music of WWE also touches on the involvement of band like Rev Theory, who amped up Randy Orton’s theme tune to the bad-ass rock song it is today; and POD, who totally transformed Johnston’s original theme for Rey Mysterio into the down and dirty song that is as synonymous with Mysterio as his signature wrestling move; and, of course, Lemmy from Motorhead’s vocal on Triple H’s ring music. Of course then there’s wrestler/rapper himself, John Cena, who took it upon himself – alongside DJ Chaos – to write AND rap his own theme music!

But who knew that some of the most iconic songs – including HBK’s theme and the classic Dusty Rhodes antrance music – came from The Mouth of the South himself, Jimmy Hart and his producing partner JJ McGuire? It would seem Hart’s way with words extended to much more than just his trademark megaphone. And that’s about the only real surprise to be found here… For fans of WWE’s music there’s little you won’t know and no doubt there’ll be an air of disappointment that the songs aren’t given more play time or explored in more depth. Though if you’ve bought all the soundtracks, making them Billboard chart hits (something this “documentary” stresses in its opening), you’ve probably heard them all before anyway.

There are some extras on this DVD: a selection of extra songs from Jim Johnston that didn’t make the countdown – including the sad “goodbye” theme for Shawn Michaels, Tell Me a Lie; Hakushi’s (remember him?) entrance song “Angel”; Billy Gunn’s “Ass Man” and WWE Diva Maria’s “Legs Like That” as sung by Zebrahead, but originally written about Jim Johnston’s wife – and a few more. You can probably tell why these didn’t make the countdown… Though why the indepth look at the creation of Golddust’s theme song was buried on page two of the extras beggars belief – it’s the most interesting part of this DVD by far!

Signature Sounds: The Music of WWE is out now on DVD from FremantleMedia.

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