I know I’ve been overloading the pro wrestling post lately but I had good inspiration for this one. The gang at The Big Lead weren’t fond of the Hulkster’s new theme song from last Monday’s TNA Impact. Interestingly, that theme song was the music for WCW’s reformed NWO in 1999 and 2000.
Anyway, if there’s any wrestler that revolutionized music in wrestling, it was Hulk Hogan. His use of Eye of the Tiger as a theme song started the widespread use of entrance themes being used. If there is anyone who is as synonymous with a song as the original artist, it’s Hulk Hogan. So here’s a look at Hulk’s music through the years and the stories behind that music.
1. Eye of the Tiger
The Hulkster’s original theme song was all Sylvester Stallone’s fault. He asked the band Survivor to write a theme song for Rocky III and the end result was Eye of the Tiger. Stallone was also the one who discovered and hired Hulk Hogan to appear in the film. The story goes, according to Hogan, that Stallone was watching the MSG Network and Vince McMahon Sr.’s WWWF was on. A Hogan match came on where he slammed three guys at the same time and Stallone called his assistant to get a hold Hogan so he could put him in Rocky III.
Interestingly, though well-known to wrestling fans, Vince Sr. refused to let Hogan go to film his scene in Rocky III as the pro wrestling champion Thunderlips. So Hulk quit and became a bigger star than he would have been had he stayed in the WWWF. Hulkamania wasn’t entirely a creation of Vince McMahon Jr. but a creation of Sylvester Stallone.
2. Hulk Hogan’s Theme
This theme song came around at the same time as Hulk was bigger than The Beatles (and as a result, Jesus). This theme song was originally found on The Wrestling Album was a WWF compilation album featuring wrestlers’ theme music. This song wasn’t only Hogan’s entrance theme but it was also the opening theme music for his cartoon. Back in the 80s, everyone seemed to have a cartoon, including Hulk Hogan and the stars of the WWF. This song was the theme song for Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling which was a weird concoction of live action and cartoons in crazy semi-wrestling related stories. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think a power piano piece is very Hulk Hogan.
3. Real American
Rick Derringer was originally commissioned to write a theme song for The US Express (a tag team of Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo). When the Express departed for the NWA after only a few months in the WWF, Hogan got to use the theme to fit his new all-American hero persona while taking on the likes of The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff. Interestingly, while Derringer sings lead, Cyndi Lauper sings backup vocals but is credited under a pseudonym.
Anyway, this is the quintessential Hulk Hogan theme song. If this were to play at a wrestling show, as Gorilla Monsoon would say, the roof would literally blow off the building. While this song was originally destined for someone else, they are now a seldom seen footnote in wrestling history.
4. Stars and Stripes Forever
This one was so short lived that the only place that I could find even the slightest reference to it was on Wikipedia. (Who needs a crack research staff when you have a public access online encyclopaedia?) It makes sense though. Hulk Hogan was the American hero that took down the evil Iranian, The Iron Sheik. And there’s nothing Vince loves more than a good deal and Stars and Stripes Forever must be in the public domain by now which means he wouldn’t have to pay to play the song. It’s listed (on a YouTube video) as being used in 1991 when he would have been facing off against the Iraqi sympathizer Sgt. Slaughter so it perfectly fit his character then.
5. American Made
The Mouth of the South Jimmy Hart was not only a good wrestling manager but a good musician. As one of Hulk’s buddies, he was more than willing to help him out with a knock-off of Real American for his run in WCW. Seriously, Jimmy had to have been a talented musician to get that close to Real American without actually getting sued for copyright infringement.
Anyway, this was a short-lived theme song in the grand scheme of things. Hogan had been playing the same character in WCW as he had in the WWF. While that would have working drawing WWF fans or casual viewers, that wasn’t going to work on the hardcore wrestling fans of the southeastern US. He was the anti-Ric Flair, the anti-Dusty Rhodes and they hated him for it. He represented entertainment rather than wrestling. So Hogan and Eric Bischoff gave up on the American hero and embraced the man of the money.
Don’t recognized the name of the theme song? Maybe if I called it the NWO Theme your memory would be jogged? Nobody that watched pro wrestling in the second golden age during the late 90s could forget that theme song. While not a terribly spectacular song, it stood out the usual generic music that the WCW music department was pumping out. Add in the quotes and you had a cool heel song with that obnoxious self-promotion edge to it. Of course, the fact that it was the theme song to one of the greatest wrestling angles of all-time doesn’t hurt either.
As I mentioned above, the WCW fans were fans of wrestling and not the WWF’s style of sports entertainment. So when it looked like the WWF was invading WCW, The Outsiders (and later the nWo) were instant heels in the fans eyes. When
7. Voodoo Child
Who do we really identify this song with? Is this still a Hendrix all-time great or is it all about Hollywood Hogan? The whole of the NWO came out to this song at the start of one episode of Nitro and it stuck with Hogan. While he was the biggest heel in the whole of professional wrestling, Hollywood Hogan has what is likely the best entrance music of all time. Hell, it was so good that the WWE had him use it when he made his return to the company in the early 2000s.
8. Wolfpac Theme
It seemed like folks changed their affiliation from week to week in WCW. While Hollywood was never with the red and black of the Wolfpac, that was the theme of the reformed nWo. After Hogan took a short leave from WCW and announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States, the Hulkster came back to battle Kevin Nash for the WCW World Title on Nitro. That was probably the beginning of the end for WCW. It was time for the finger poke of doom. Hogan jabbed Nash in the chest, he dropped like a rock and the nWo Black and White and nWo Wolfpac reformed to become the nWo Elite. By that time, the WWF was catching and passing WCW in the ratings war and Monday night ratings were all that mattered to Eric Bischoff.
Back to the theme song, I think it was actually the weakest of Hogan’s WCW theme songs. I always liked the Wolfpac theme but using that with Hogan and the nWo Elite just didn’t work. The Wolfpac was the takeover of the corporate takeover and Hogan never seemed to belong with that lot. Of course, Hogan would eventually leave WCW after a run in with Vince Russo over his creative control clause and was out of wrestling until the WWE called about an nWo reunion.
9. NWO 2000 Theme
Here’s Hogan’s current theme. It was developed for the reformed New World Order in 1999 that featured the likes of Bret Hart, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Jeff Jarrett. Why Hogan would be using this song, I’ll never know. It’s not like he’s in the midst of a hostile takeover of TNA. Couldn’t Jimmy Hart lend him American Made again? Couldn’t TNA use the original nWo theme? It’s not a bad tune… If you ignore the fact that it quite clearly is off a porno film soundtrack.
After examining the evidence, maybe the gang from TBL is right. It’s not a horrible theme song that the Hulkster is using. Hell, it’s probably the best theme in TNA right now. The only problem is that there obviously were better options out there. Well, it was a good plan in theory, just bad in execution.