Ever since the inaugural WrestleMania, music has played an integral part in the wrestling experience. From ‘Easy Lover’ in 1985 to the alternative rock explosion of the early aughts to the ever-present Flo Rida epidemic (nine times in seven years), I often associate certain events and feuds with the featured “brought to you by” track.
Going back and listening to every song and watching the PPV promotional packages was both exhausting and thrilling. One minute I would be on the edge of my seat ready to press play on an entire show and then shortly after I’d be forcing myself to relive some of the most excruciatingly dull periods in wrestling history. Regardless, I’m happy to have taken the trip because it brought a lot of terrific artists back into my life.
Assembling this group of fifteen was no easy task. My first pass left me with over fifty potential titles and I was forced to make some tough decisions. Sorry, Na Na Na, but my love of comic books wasn’t enough to sway me.
The rules for this exercise were quite simple:
1. There was a limit of one entry per artist. Some groups had three or four different songs in contention, but I wanted to highlight as many different names as possible.
2. I decided to exclude Jim Johnston's compositions. His work is undeniably great, but it didn’t mesh with the MTV connection I was trying to make. Besides, he deserves a feature all to himself.
3. The rankings are reflective of how much I enjoyed the song and how effectively it was used in the promotional campaign for its respective event.
Remember, all music is subjective. My list will probably look much different than yours or anyone else’s. If I missed one of your favurites, put it in the comments and let’s reminisce together!
15. Jet - Rip It Up
Event: SummerSlam (August 15, 2010)
Location: Staples Center in Los Angeles, California
WWE Divas Championship: Melina defeated Alicia Fox (c)
7-on-7 Elimination Tag Team Match: Team WWE (Bret Hart, Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan, Edge, John Cena, John Morrison and R-Truth) defeated The Nexus (Darren Young, David Otunga, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, Michael Tarver, Skip Sheffield and Wade Barrett)
Notes: As you’ll see, I haven’t been crazy about WWE’s musical choices this past decade. This song, however, still plays in my head from time to time. The chorus is catchy and has an electricity about it that worked effectively as a pump-up song for SummerSlam.
14. Creed - Young Grow Old
Event: Backlash (April 21, 2002)
Location: Kemper Memorial Arena in Kansas City, Missouri
WWF Women’s Championship: Jazz (c) defeated Trish Stratus
Undisputed WWF Championship: Hollywood Hulk Hogan defeated Triple H (c)
Notes: I can’t help but wonder why WWE used Young Grow Old as a theme rather than the newly released, more anthemic, My Sacrifice. You can argue that the lyrics are tailor-made for a show with Triple H on the poster and a tagline that reads "One Man's Journey to Stand Alone", but the fact that they picked a bonus track from the European version of Creed's three-year-old Wet Clay album will always be confounding.
13. Sevendust - Enemy
Event: Unforgiven (September 21, 2003)
Location: Giant Centre in Hershey, Pennsylvania
Women’s Tag Team Match: Lita and Trish Stratus defeated Gail Kim and Molly Holly
Title vs. Career Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Goldberg defeated Triple H (c)
Notes: A song about hate. A champion I hated. Two men who hated each other. It all works! You can feel the anger in the song and it helped sell the feud and make it feel more intense than I ever remember it being.
12. Seether - Remedy
Event: SummerSlam (August 21, 2005)
Location: MCI Center in Washington, D.C.
No Women’s Match
Ladder Match for Custody of Dominick: Rey Mystery defeated Eddie Guerrero
Main Event: Hulk Hogan defeated Shawn Michaels
Notes: Not a great event. This was around the time I started falling out of love with the product and I can see why. The song, however, blew up. It was at #1 on the charts for two months and was all the rage at one of our school dances. Nothing quite like jumping up and down in a not-quite-dark-enough gymnasium on a Thursday afternoon. Seether's Fake It would also be featured at No Way Out 2008.
11. Peter Gabriel - Big Time
Event: WrestleMania 22 (April 2, 2006)
Location: Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois
WWE Women’s Championship: Mickie James defeated Trish Stratus (c)
WWE Championship: John Cena (c) defeated Triple H
Notes: Peter Gabriel is one of my favorite artists of all-time so his inclusion on this list was a foregone conclusion from the moment I started my research. So is in my top 5 albums of all-time. The bassline that Tony Levin lays down on this track is absolutely incredible. Overall, the song doesn't have the headbanging aesthetic of my other selections, but thematically the idea of "success" and "making it big" work well for an event the size of WrestleMania.
10. Staind - Price to Play
Event: Vengeance (July 27, 2003)
Location: Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado
No Count-Out Match: Sable defeated Stephanie McMahon
Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship: Kurt Angle defeated Brock Lesnar (c) and Big Show
Notes: As a massive Kurt Angle fan, I’ll never forget how much fun I had watching this main event. Seeing him and Brock, who was absolutely unstoppable at the time, team up to take out Big Show with trash can lids and a tandem chokeslam before turning on each other was fantastic. This was a physically devastating match and I feel like the song evokes the tone of the fight.
9. Trust Company - Falling Apart
Event: Royal Rumble (January 19, 2003)
Location: Fleet Center in Boston, Massachusetts
Women’s Singles Match: Torrie Wilson defeated Dawn Marie Wilson
Royal Rumble Match: Brock Lesnar won by last eliminating The Undertaker
Notes: This is one of the last Royal Rumble matches where I can remember actually cheering for the person who won. Trust Company’s debut album, The Lonely Position of Neutral, is a forgotten gem. Downfall got plenty of runtime on MTV and was used for Vengeance 2002, but I always thought Falling Apart was the better track. The way the vocals cut between a metal/punk scream and filtered pop makes it one of the finest earworms to grace WWE TV.
8. Evanescence (ft. Paul McCoy) - Bring Me to Life
Event: No Way Out (February 23, 2003)
Location: Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
No Women’s Match
World Heavyweight Championship: Triple H (c) (w/ Ric Flair) defeated Scott Steiner
Main Event: The Rock defeated Hulk Hogan
Notes: This song was such a phenomenon at the time and I vividly remember Michael Cole and Taz geeking out at the commentary table about the fact that it was also in Daredevil. Just my opinion, but this event was about as good as that movie. Insert pun about Evanescence trying its best to bring No Way Out to life.
7. Trapt - Headstrong
Event: Bad Blood (June 15, 2003)
Location: Compaq Center in Houston, Texas
Women’s Singles Match: Ivory defeated Molly Holly (broadcasted prior to the PPV on Sunday Night Heat)
Hell in a Cell Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Triple H (c) defeated Kevin Nash
Notes: I first heard Headstrong on the soundtrack for NHL 2003 and immediately asked my cousin to burn it onto a CD for me. It’s a great wrestling theme trapped on a lacklustre show. Many of these songs have the burden of Triple H main events. I forgot how many shows he headlined. It's kind of depressing. The fact that they still made the list speaks to their standalone quality.
6. Gavin Rossdale - Adrenaline
Event: Unforgiven (September 22, 2002)
Location: Staples Center in Los Angeles, California
WWE Women’s Championship: Trish Stratus defeated Molly Holly (c)
WWE Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) (with Paul Heyman) vs. The Undertaker ended in a double disqualification
Notes: Adrenaline’s melancholic melody helps it stand out from the pack of aggression fuelled rock tracks of the era. At one point it was on the verge of being cut, but after a few listens it began to grow on me and now I can't stop humming the chorus. Of all the featured songs, this made the biggest jump from its original placement. Some of you may also remember it as The Undertaker’s desire/tribute theme.
5. Puddle of Mudd - Control
Event: Survivor Series (November 18, 2001)
Location: Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina
Six-Pack Challenge for the vacant WWF Women's Championship: Trish Stratus (WWF) defeated Ivory (Alliance), Jazz (Alliance), Jacqueline (WWF), Lita (WWF) and Mighty Molly (Alliance)
5-on-5 Survivor Series Elimination match: Team WWF (Chris Jericho, Big Show, Kane, The Rock and The Undertaker) defeated The Alliance (Booker T, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Shane McMahon and Stone Cold Steve Austin)
Notes: If you haven't already, do yourself a favour and listen to Puddle of Mudd's album, Come Clean. It's one of my favourite records from 2001 and features Blurry, Control, and She Hates Me. The sound is infectious and if you're anything like me, you'll be listening to it for years to come. Thematically, I like how the song ties into the WWF/WCW feud and the power struggle between the two factions. Wes Scantlin told MTV "The end of the song is the wake-up [where you realize], "Man, I can't deal with this anymore." Fittingly, Survivor Series also marked the end of The Invasion angle.
4. Edgewater - Eyes Wide Shut
Event: Backlash (April 18, 2004)
Location: Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
WWE Women’s Championship: Victoria (c) defeated Lita
Triple Threat Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Chris Benoit (c) defeated Triple H and Shawn Michaels
Notes: I’m from Edmonton and this was the first PPV I ever attended live, so there is a decent amount of nostalgia associated with this selection. All my friends and I could talk about for the majority of grade 9 was Backlash, and it delivered. Yes, the legacy of the evening is tarnished, but I'll never forget the excitement and pure joy of that entire build and then being there in person. Luckily, the song is also pretty rad. Check out Cactus Jack and Randy Orton's Hardcore Match for the Intercontinental Championship if you don't remember it because the punishment they dished-out is absolutely absurd.
3. Drowning Pool - Bodies
Event: SummerSlam (August 19, 2001)
Location: Compaq Center in San Jose, California
Women’s Tag Team Match: Jacqueline, Lita and Molly Holly (WWF) defeated Ivory, Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson (Alliance)
WCW Championship: The Rock (WWF) defeated Booker T (c) (w/ Shane McMahon) (Alliance)
Notes: To this day, Bodies is still one of the coolest songs. If it doesn’t get your blood flowing then you might want to consult a medical professional. Drowning Pool, along with the next band on this list, have to be considered the musical MVPs of WWE PPV themes. Sinner (Vengeance 2001) and Step Up (WrestleMania XX) were also in the top 25 and deserve a big shout-out. Go give all three songs a listen.
2. Saliva - Click Click Boom
Event: No Mercy (October 21, 2001)
Location: Savvis Center in St. Louis, Missouri
Lingerie Match: Torrie Wilson defeated Stacy Keibler
Triple Threat Match for the WWF Championship: Stone Cold Steve Austin (c) (Alliance) defeated Kurt Angle (WWF) and Rob Van Dam (Alliance)
Notes: It was hard to pick one song for Saliva. Always (Survivor Series 2002) and Ladies and Gentlemen (WrestleMania 23) were hard to cut, check them out as well, but I kept coming back to Click Click Boom. It's straight-fire and when you go back and watch the promo packs for No Mercy, it makes it look like the most bad-ass show ever put together.
1. Limp Bizkit - My Way
Event: WrestleMania X-Seven (April 1, 2001)
Location: Reliant Astrodome in Houston, Texas
WWF Women’s Championship: Chyna defeated Ivory (c)
No Disqualification Match for the WWF Championship: Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated The Rock (c)
Notes: 2001 takes four of the top five spots. What a year! Rock versus Austin is the feud I always think of when I look back on my childhood and this song is ingrained in my mind as being synonymous with it. This may also be the greatest video package ever assembled. The way it was choreographed and crescendoed with the two stars finally throwing down is pure magic. I legitimately watch X-Seven after listening to My Way.