Music blaring when a wrestler comes on stage is one of the most fundamental parts of the pageantry of pro wrestling. It injects energy into the crowd, gets people excited, and can do a lot for the character of the wrestler. There are many different dynamics of the intro, from lighting to LED boards but music has always persisted as the most fundamental part. So, with AEW wanting to make a splash and having had a couple months to tweak things, why is their music still just so bad?
Let’s look at what makes good intro music. I will be ignoring other elements of the intro and focusing only on music. Some exceptions to these rules can be made depending on other elements of the introduction; however, when looking at intro music isolated from everything else, these following rules are good fundamentals.
1. It should let you know who it is right away by immediately hitting you hard with something distinct. This doesn’t mean intro music must come in with a large, loud hit, but it needs to build to something akin to that within a couple seconds. A verbal que can also do this, in the case of people like Nikki Cross’ maniacal laughing, or Matt Riddle’s ‘bbbrrrrrooooo’. A loud, strong verbal cue can make up for a distinguishable first measure of music to alert the crowd and at home audience. Nothing is worse than hearing music hit and not knowing who is coming out. The audience doesn’t know to cheer or boo and the energy in the stadium stays stagnant.
2. The music needs to embody the wrestler’s personality. For this reason it helps new viewers understand who someone is — even non-wrestling fans will know ‘this guy is big and mean’ or ‘this guy is goofy.’ It’s usually the first thing a new viewer will experience from a wrestler. A song that stands out and highlights the unique part of that wrestler’s character will make a lasting impression.
These first two points intermingle as well. If your characters are all the same, the music choices will be limited and thus not distinct enough.
3. The intro music should let the audience participate. This is not a necessity for a good intro song, but it does help in some cases. Giving the audience a part in the intro makes it a lot more fun and pumps up the crowd even more. It can anything be from chanting along in the case of Samoa Joe’s music, singing along with Lynch or Zayn, or having hand gestures in the case of Finn Balor. It also lets the crowd be a part of the show in just yet one more way. Not every intro song needs this or should have this, but not having this element in any music in a promotion is a severely missed area.
Looking toward AEW with all this in mind, there is a slew of generic rock throughout the music; Jericho, Allie, Cody and Dustin Rhoads, Nyla, Brit Baker, Pristley, PAC. There are then some less generic rock music, such as Darby Allin and Havoc, but it’s just a different genre of rock, not enough to really make it pop out as interesting. All together, each one is for the most part indistinguishable from another, causing some confusion and giving no personality to each wrestler.
People like Riho and Omega stand out, but both of their songs have builds which are too long and don’t hit soon enough. This complaint is not a huge one but it can be more easily mediated when adding in the other elements of an intro. Yet, I have seen very little effort to do this. Something as little as waiting a little longer to come on stage so they can strike a pose at the top of the stage when the music hits its climax would help a lot.
Some AEW themes I think do a good job distinguishing themselves are MJF, Hangman Page, and The Young Bucks. I want to give exceptional praise MJF’s. His song, which debuted just two weeks ago fits amazingly and it is like no other intro on the roster. It fits his personality perfectly. The song comes on strong and doesn’t leave you in doubt about who it is.
Hangman also stands out and if only they ramped up the ‘westernness’ of it by like 15% it would be perfect. Add in a lone whistle at the start and make it a recurring theme in the piece. But honestly, this is a minor critique as the song is extremely good overall, especially when compared to the overall catalogue of the rest of the roster.
Now I am not saying that AEW needs all their intro music to be vastly unique and different. There can be overlap, and there often is throughout promotions. However, the ratio of rock songs to the size of their roster is just too much. Every other song must rely on the LEDs for the viewers to know who is coming out.
To emphasize this point let’s finish up this article with a playlist. Below are the intro songs of the more prominent AEW wrestlers (These are just the studio versions I could find. It’s hard to find clean recordings especially for the women). Before listening to one, try to remember what it sounds like. listen to them and then try to remember what each person’s theme was afterwards.