WWE's latest release, just weeks before the 30th edition of Wrestlemania, is a salute to some of the great sounds that have been produced by the wrestling juggernaut.
Not the sounds of broken bones and stomping feet, but the catchy theme songs that have become associated with some of WWE's biggest stars over the years.
"Signature Sounds: The Music of WWE" is a documentary that covers 25 of the greatest theme songs of WWE. And there have been many.
A number of elements come into play in the production of a WWE event. Music is one of the most vital.
In the old days of wrestling, music was a rarity. The closest thing to music was the noise of the crowd. Today it's an integral part of the show that hypes the action and, more importantly, helps creates unique personas for performers.
Some of the simplest sounds - a sinister gong, the shattering of glass - have become among the most popular. Those sounds have become synonymous with WWE's superstars.
There's no underestimating the importance of the great sounds coming out of a modest studio in WWE's Stamford, Conn., production facility. The flashy themes have the ability to produce an immediate connection between the superstars and their audience.
Among the 25 timeless tracks included on "Signature Sounds" are "Sexy Boy" (Shawn Michaels), "I Won't Do What You Tell Me" (Steve Austin), "Rest in Peace" (The Undertaker), "Electrifying" (The Rock) and "Voices" (Randy Orton).
Along with the songs is a behind-the-scenes look at how the music is made and how it connects with each superstar's character.
While most fans are very familiar with the music, the DVD will introduce many to the man behind the music.
Known as the musical genius of WWE, and rightfully so, Jim Johnston has been credited with composing entrance themes for WWE superstars for nearly three decades. He has defined how the modern-era wrestler entrance is presented.
"It's all about creating an identity for these characters, and I think it's the music's job to completely change your emotional state," Johnston explains.
Johnston, quite simply, is a genius and one of the company's most important figures behind the scenes.
He goes about his job in methodical fashion, getting the name of a performer along with some vital statistics, and then sitting down at a piano or playing some riffs on a guitar, until he settles for just the right composition. Then the score is turned over to a band to give it a harder edge.
Johnston, whose original studio was in a church basement, once revealed that his tailor-made, in-house produced pieces all began with a blank page.
"I'm relatively uninformed," he admitted. "A lot of times, I'm told there's a new superstar, and their name is 'blank.' After that, it gets kind of sketchy, so I ask for some footage of the talent so at least I can see how they move. That's always the starting point for me. A talent's size and appearance go a long way to determining what I need to produce."
The less he knows about the particulars of a performer, the better.
"I think it's good that I don't get too much information, because it could easily take me in the wrong direction," said Johnston, who has created or overseen some 10,000 recordings. "I try to react to what I see. I look at the footage and think, 'What's this person really like?' If I feel something, I try to draw that out in composing their music."
Johnston also composes music for the majority of WWE's PPV and television productions, including show themes, music videos, vignettes, commercials and tributes.
Also featured on "Signature Sounds" are interview clips from WWE stars and even band members who helped make the music.
Extras on the DVD include additional entrance themes which didn't make the top 25.
Johnston shares many interesting stories on those as well.
On former WWE diva Maria's entrance music, "With Legs Like That," Johnston reveals that it was a song he originally wrote for the person who inspired it: his wife. "I have to give credit where it's due," Johnston said. "It was just a crazy, teenage, hormone-filled fun song."
A sentimental piece that was used specifically for a Shawn Michaels retirement angle, "Tell Me a Lie," was originally written for Johnston's dying mother.
Johnston does an amazing job at capturing a star's character and putting it into music.
"The soundtrack is simply the backdrop," says Johnston. "It's up to the performers to enhance the music."
And they do.
HBK lights up a crowd with "Sexy Boy."
Undertaker transfixes the audience with "Rest in Peace."
Triple H exudes power with "The Game."
John Cena pumps up the throng with "The Time Is Now."
"They all have a hook to them," says Johnston. "They're unique." Batista discusses on the DVD how his theme music, "I Walk Alone," a song laid down by hard rockers Saliva, fits his character to a tee.
"That emotional connection is priceless," says Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. "That's what drives me. That energy I don't get anywhere else."
On WWE Hall of Famer Sunny's entrance music, "I Know You Want Me," Johnston explains: "She had a wonderful brattiness about her character."
The Ultimate Warrior's theme, aptly titled "Unstable," was a no-brainer.
"Boy, that guy had a lot of energy," says Johnston. "The perfect word for him was frenetic."
Johnston simply transferred that personality to his guitar. And it worked.
WWE owner Vince McMahon's theme, "No Chance in Hell," was easy, says Johnston. "That's the way he carries himself."
As for "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, the WWE composer combined the shattering of glass and an automobile crash with a basic beat from a distorted guitar to make for an incredible entrance.
"You definitely knew something was going to happen" when Austin came through the door, Johnston says.
It's an entrance that can send chills down your spine.
The music, like the entire show, is meant to entertain.
"When we can show people a good time, that's the ultimate home run."
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