Posted in: The Schoolhouse
The Music of Wrestlemania- Chapter 4.1 (2001-2005)
By JCool
Mar 24, 2017 - 5:30:56 PM


Welcome back to the Music of Wrestlemania series, hosted here in the Schoolhouse. For those who may have missed the first three chapters, check out the table of contents below for the link. There you’ll find the full introduction, which explains why we’re talking about Wrestlemania theme songs.

The fourth chapter carries substantial weight in the history of Wrestlemania theme songs. In this era, which will be divided into two parts due to its length, WWE went full on into the world of rock, metal and alternative. This was a perfect choice for that time period because of how popular rock music was during the beginning of the 00’s decade, and the intensity and aggression of the wrestling WWE was showcasing. This was the era of PG 13 programming, hardcore championship matches, and guts and blood were a common and enjoyed sight for the fans. The end of the Attitude Era and the beginning of the Ruthless Aggression Era were well represented by the Wrestlemania themes reviewed hereafter.

For new readers, or to remind continuing ones, here are some of the questions that guide the discussion for each ‘Mania theme:

Does the music accurately reflect the stories and matches of each individual ‘Mania?
Does the music support the grandeur and size of this massively successful sports-entertainment celebration?
What kind of mood and theme is suggested by a Wrestlemania theme?

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the music of Wrestlemania.

Table Of Contents

The musical themes in the history of Wrestlemania fit into 5 distinct eras. Each era features discussion on each theme in that era and how it reflected the time period, the card, and where applicable, a more specific explanation of the theme’s connection to wrestlers on the card or the geographical location of that year’s Wrestlemania. The chart below divides the music of Wrestlemania into 5 distinct eras.

Wrestlemania I-VWrestlemania VI-XIV
Wrestlemania XV-2000Wrestlemania X-7- 25 (Part 1)
Wrestlemania X-7- 25 (Part 2) Wrestlemania XXVI-33

Wrestlemania X7-25: Rock, Rock On! (Part 1)

X-Seven: Limp Bizkit- "My Way"
Click here to listen.

“I’m ‘a do things my way, it’s my way, my way or the highway” oozes teenage angst... actually, it oozes angst pretty much at any age and this attitude, both in lyrical and musical form, made it a near perfect fit for what Wrestlemania had become in 2001. X-Seven gave us the Wrestlemania rematch between Austin and the Rock, a McMahon street fight, a return TLC bout between the three most extreme tag teams of the era, and the violent Triple H vs. BikerTaker match. My Way, as much as any of the other popular song choices, notably connects to the popular music of the era. Limp Bizkit, as much as some may want to forget, was a hugely popular band at this time and its brand of rap/rock or nu-metal satisfied the aggression of many young wrestling fans at that time.

This is also the first Wrestlemania theme that, although not written specifically for Wrestlemania, has been deliberately chosen for its lyrical content and how that can connect to the feuds of the event. Austin and Rock is maybe the easiest example, given the history of their feud. References like “one more fight...cause I’ve had enough of this and now I’m pissed” and “just one more fight and I’ll be history” strengthen the emotional connection fans have towards the feud. Although the two would go on to fight at one more ‘Mania, these words suggest that this match will be the last one and rightfully so. It would be ludicrous of WWE not to present this match with a sense of finality. The same thought can be extended to Shane and Vince McMahon’s street fight, a match that many could not have foreseen happening a year earlier. Shane and Vince’s dispute is very much linked to the issue of pride and of the other not willing to bend or consider things from a different perspective.

One final hypothesis for you to consider though is to listen to this song in the aftermath of the event and not as a promotional vehicle. Clearly, it works as a means to hype fans about Wrestlemania and as a way to express the feuds present in that night’s matches. I will argue that it also forecasts Stone Cold’s heel turn. “Someday, you’ll see things my way cause you never know where you’re gonna go” forces the fan to contemplate the decision that Austin made and how there may come a time when you’ll better understand why it happened this way. When Austin was opposing Vince for all of those months, he could never have dreamed that he’d align himself with the man whose very presence was a problem for him. Austin’s turn alienated him from many of his fans and re-established that he was going to “do things my way...and that [they’d] be the one[s] missing [him]”. At this point, with so many fans behind him, Austin could have felt pressure to continue conforming to the image the fans had of him, to do what they wanted, to continue opposing authority. By aligning with Vince, he was actually continuing to be a non-conformist by going against what the majority wanted of him. In fact, Wrestlemania X-Seven was very much an emphatic statement by Austin, and to a lesser extent McMahon, that things were going to go his way.

Truly, music is at its best when it can hit us on that emotional plain and conjure up feelings and memories in that moment and then, in the future, upon hearing the song again. Wrestlemania X-Seven succeeds in doing that on the large level of the event and on the smaller level of the matches themselves.

X8: Saliva- "Superstar"
Click here to listen.

WMX8’s theme picks up where X-Seven left off, continuing the trend of a hard alternative rock song representing the event with Saliva’s Superstar. Contrary to the previous year’s installment though, Superstar starts off with a blast of electric guitars and the intensity level never relents after that. This is a heavy song where every instrument contributes a powerful presence, especially the edgy, at times screaming vocals of Josey Scott. The theme also falls in line with the style WWE was using for RAW and Smackdown at the time, too. In fact, the electric guitar riff holds some similarities to The Beautiful People by Marilyn Manson, which was being used as the theme for Smackdown at that time (it was also a theme for RAW in 1997).

My only hesitation with rating this theme as a grand success is in the lyrics. The words paint the picture of the hollowness of being a superstar and all the excesses that go along with it like greed, razorblade and lines, pills and drinks, etc. Furthermore, the screamed desire to “make me a superstar” doesn’t fit most of the wrestlers on the card, especially those in the upper-tier, main event matches. Chris Jericho would be the only who could claim this desire since he had never fought a match of this magnitude before, but even he had been a top player in the WWE for a few years by that time. He was also the undisputed champ heading into the show.

The argument could be made that The Rock needed a victory over Hogan to prove himself as a candidate for greatest WWF superstar of all time. It’s a weak argument though because his character, by this point, was already viewed as a superstar and not the kind portrayed in the song. Parts like “where’s my limousine? It’s just a dream that I won’t wake up from” would better fit a guy like Scott Hall but I only say that because we know about his behind-the-scenes struggle with drug addiction. It wasn’t a primary or overt part of his match with Austin. So, Superstar works but it almost would’ve fit better as an instrumental theme for X-8.

A secondary theme for the event was: Drowning Pool- "Tear Away".

XIX: Limp Bizkit- "Crack Addict"
Click here to listen.

With the success of My Way in 2001, both in terms of popularity and creativity, WWE gave Limp Bizkit a second chance to represent Wrestlemania with “Crack Addict”. For a second time, Bizkit hit it out of the park with their aggressive and energetic style. The dynamics of the song are less extreme and feature a more consistent brashness, more similar to Superstar than My Way. The lyrics, however, fit the conflict and violence of the matches quite accurately.

My favourite lyric is the line: “I’m addicted to crackin' skulls when punks start static!” Any of the wrestlers could adopt this motto on a Wrestlemania night but, of course, I find it most closely mirrors the attitude of Stone Cold Steve Austin, along with Brock Lesnar and Triple H as well. The chorus is a shout along, comprised of short, two or three syllable bursts, like “right now, let’s go, me and you, toe to toe”. It may not have been created specifically for a wrestling event but phrases like those ones make the song a perfect fit for a fight night. The belligerent vocals of Fred Durst and his defiant tone help to create a musical experience that engulfs the listener, much like a captivating wrestling match would. There are certainly a few of those on this card, like Rock/Austin III, Lesnar/Angle, and Michaels/Jericho, which was a mid-card bout but the longest match of the entire evening.

XX: Drowning Pool- "Step Up"
Click here to listen.

“If you wanna step up, you’re gonna get knocked down!” comprises the main part of the vocals in the chorus of this hard alternative rock theme. WWE continued its hard rock trend for WMXX, which wasn’t a surprise given the high energy, aggressive mood of the event and the intensity of a number of wrestlers who were given opportunities to prove themselves. John Cena, Christian, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit and even Goldberg all won matches in which this was either a first Wrestlemania for them or their first significant match at the event. The attitude of “I’m never gonna stop, I’m never gonna drop” fueled the careers of the aforementioned to their varying degrees of success.

It was most prominently told in the stories of Guerrero and Benoit who had been wrestling for many years, been through many hardships and difficulties, especially in wCw, and who, now were finally reaping the benefits of their arduous journey. Leaving Madison Square Garden, the Mecca of pro wrestling in North America, as champions must have been such a joy for those two. Step Up is a song that demands attention and WM XX is an event that demanded its audience to recognize the exceptional talent showcased that evening.

21: The Soundtrack of Our Lives- "Bigtime"
Click here to listen.

Whether it was purposeful or not remains a mystery, but the opening riff to Bigtime heralds back to Jim Johnston’s “The Grand Spectacle”. The guitar riff is almost identical, save for its concluding note and the speed at which it is played. There is a sense of urgency in this theme, caused by the rhythm guitar and supported by a steady and quick 4/4 beat, accompanied by a rolling bass line. The chorus hits hard with plenty of cymbal crashes and an electric guitar riff that seems to be channeling a siren or alarm, albeit one that can be digested without reaching to turn it off! This is not the same kind of rock song we have been experiencing and so a new chapter seems to be starting. The texture of the song is never as dominant or as chunky as past songs but has more in common with the ‘Mania themes of the 80s in the way it has been produced.

The theme choice is also surprising considering that the event took place in Los Angeles, where they would have had ample opportunity to draw celebrity connections from those in the area or those who took part in the event like Motörhead, Black Eyed Peas, The Smashing Pumpkins, Ice Cube and even the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Bigtime is by a Swedish band, which is all fine and well, but surprising given what WWE had been doing previously. Perhaps the choice to use Bigtime was very much in keeping with the new direction and the new era that was beginning in WWE. The lyrics work well to prove that.
One example comes right at the beginning: Welcome to the future...get into the new speed. WM21 continues the trend of showcasing up and coming performers in main event matches. Cena, JBL, Batista, Orton and Edge all participated in matches that would be their biggest achievements to date. The torch, as it were, was being given to Cena and Batista, who would leave the Staples Centre as the WWE’s heavyweight champions for their respective brands. “Talking about the old times, scared about the new times” almost comes across as a meta description of the overall show. For as much as Wrestlemania is about creating new stars, it also honours its tradition and history, and the older stars were still very much in control at this show. Triple H, Undertaker, Angle, Michaels carried the load and were responsible for much of the event’s success---the latter two were responsible for what some named the match of the night or, in some cases, match of the year.

New times were being established for the WWE at this event but there wasn’t much in the way of consistency forming just yet, at least, not in the main event picture.

A secondary theme for the event was 3 Doors Down-"Behind Those Eyes".


The discussion period is about to begin. Share your thoughts on part 1 of the fourth chapter of Wrestlemania music.

Is “My Way” by Limp Bizkit the best example of a commercial song being chosen to represent the granddaddy of ‘em all?

Should Wrestlemania XX have had a different theme that connected more to the history of the event and its connection to MSG, or did WWE make a good choice in sticking with their edgier rock direction?

Stay tuned for part 2 of this era later this weekend, which features two hugely successful veteran acts and a song that was specifically written for Wrestlemania, a rare promotional move by WWE in the new millennium.