Mikey Rukus, AEW’s Music Producer, recently did his own AMA on Reddit this week to talk about the music process. Rukus admits that he’s never been a fan of Reddit, but was more than happy to answer their questions.
Wrestling has always had a pattern of making their own music that sounds like popular copyrighted music but is just different enough not to be sued. Currently, AEW’s Dustin Rhodes has a theme song that sounds like Green Day’s “Brain Stew” hit and WWE’s Carmella has a theme song that sounds like Iggy’s “Fabulous” from 2014. Some of the top theme songs in wrestling history were just generic versions of popular music. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s theme was modeled after Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls of Parade” while D-Generation X’s theme used another Rage hit called “Killin’ in the Name of.” The Chris Warren Band, the group behind D-X’s theme, was chosen because of how much they sounded like Rage.
Rukus revealed in the AMA that wrestling does this because of how complicated and costly the process can be to get a licensed song. “The process is long and sometimes not very cost effective,” Rukus explains, “Many times there are multiple publishers involved and absolutely everyone has to be on board. Then there is a negotiation process. If a big name company owns a track and they want to charge you $20,000 to use it for one night, (not a specific example but its typical) its just not good business sense, just because you have millions doesnt mean pissing away $20k on a song you will use once makes sense. But there are a ton of variables involved.”
As for why AEW’s music is so much quieter than WWE’s, Rukus explains the thought process behind the move. “This is done by design. In terms of a sports based presentation, when you watch UFC, or any other sporting event, the music is all in house. The focus is on the overall atmosphere rather than pushing the music 1000% front and center. Just a different approach and I’ve come to enjoy it.”
You can view the whole AMA here.