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    Tuesday, August 8, 2017

    #ThemeSongTuesday: The Evolution of Johnny Wrestling's Music

    When I first saw Johnny Gargano on NXT, I didn't really think he'd stand out. He quickly proved me wrong by being the plucky, underdog hero the brand sorely needed since Sami Zayn got injured (and ultimately graduated to the main roster). Throughout his run at Full Sail, Johnny Wrestling has become my favorite wrestler to watch because of how easily he connects with anyone who's watching. He's a relatable hero, who looks like the type of guy who has to fight and claw his way to any modicum of success. How can't you get behind someone like that?

    While I was unsure when he'd actually sign with NXT, I knew that there was some sort of investment in Gargano because of his involvement in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic (alongside Tommaso Ciampa), and later on, in the inaugural Cruiserweight Classic. Throughout his run so far, Johnny Wrestling has had three themes associated with him, which have evolved alongside his character up to this point. Let's start off with the first theme he used, when he started teaming with Tommaso Ciampa in September 2015.

    If entrance themes were like Pokemon, "Chrome Hearts" would have to be the Basic form. It starts with a buildup that should rile up both the wrestler(s) and the crowd. Then it leads to a generic rock loop with heavier drums, compared to its evolutionary forms. Of the three tracks we'll be discussing this week, "Chrome Hearts" has the weakest and tamest guitar solo, making for a refined riff that's supposed to give off an edgier sound. It won't bring the same energy that the next two themes will, but with the drums being more prominently featured, the song becomes much easier to interact with as you clap along with the beat.

    Almost a year after becoming an NXT fixture, Johnny Wrestling would go on to compete in the CWC and use a different theme, entitled "From The Heart." Much like its Basic form, this Stage 1 theme starts off with a nice little buildup, leading into the drop, which ushers in the song's main loop. It's a decent loop, with riffs that you'd be just as likely to hear in a video game battle. The guitars are the best part on this track because of how I'd imagine they could make the guitarist's fingers bleed with all the plucking. It's so energetic and takes on a life of its own that I find myself playing air guitar when the hook is on loop. The song bottoms out at worst as another generic rock theme for any CAW, but thankfully, we didn't really have to hear it for long because Gargano got bounced by TJP in Round 2 of the CWC. Plus, "Chrome Hearts" was the theme that was most associated with him, so they stuck with that when he returned to NXT TV.

    And now we move on to Gargano's current theme, the Stage 2 evolution, "Rebel Heart." There isn't much of a buildup on this one, unlike its Basic and Stage 1 forms. The first thing I noticed upon hearing this song was, "Holy shit, how did CFO$ get Paramore on this track?!" In the words of Sam Smith, I know I'm not the only one (who thought that).

    Whereas it becomes harder to tell that "From The Heart" and "Chrome Hearts" are just 30-45 second songs on loop, it's much more apparent in "Rebel Heart" because of the fact that there's really just a hook and a verse then repeat. That's it. It's CFO$'s good ol' formula at work again, and it really is just annoying, especially for those of you who like using wrestling themes in your workout playlists. Just when you're getting ready for your next set, you realize you've heard the same loop for the last minute or two, making you want to hate the damn song already.

    What works in this song's favor is that the high notes in the guitar solo that I liked from "From the Heart" are back. They actually serve well as this song's "pop drop," the musical loop that serves as the "new chorus"—the hook after the chorus—of pop songs over the last half-decade, as defined by Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding of Switched On Pop.

    All in all, I'm not too salty about this iteration of Johnny Wrestling's theme. I'm not even mad that he got a song with female vocals, as they can actually make for a good theme when used properly. While it's an unpopular opinion, I still maintain a soft spot in my heart for the original rendition of Christian's theme, "Just Close Your Eyes" by Waterproof Blonde. I just hope that if ever this song ever gets a Mega Evolution, it's a second verse and a proper bridge that actually completes "Rebel Heart."

    What do you think of Johnny Gargano's entrance theme songs in WWE so far? Sound off in the comments section below!

    Photo from WWE


    Stan Sy (@_StanSyis the Editor at Large of Smark Henry, and is also a radio broadcaster, events host, a freelance writer, and one of the hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He also used to be one of the hosts and writers of The Wrestling Gods on FOX. He enjoys watching WWE, NXT, Lucha Underground, and the occasional New Japan match. You can also catch him every month attempting to keep order in a fancy suit as PWR's General Manager.
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    Item Reviewed: #ThemeSongTuesday: The Evolution of Johnny Wrestling's Music Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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