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    Tuesday, July 23, 2019

    #ThemeSongTuesday: I Am My Kingdom

    It's been a while since we've featured a current, non-WWE entrance theme on this space, so let's fill that void by talking about the theme of one Cody (Rhodes).

    Funnily enough, his theme was recorded by a group whose music is largely associated with WWE—Downstait. The Indiana-based band is best known for being behind the themes of Dolph Ziggler, Zack Ryder, Alex Riley, and The Miz. Fans of Being The Elite/AEW may also be familiar with them since they also recorded the official entrance theme of last year's All In.

    But even before Downstait did "All In," they were already working with the Executive Vice President of All Elite Wrestling. Since leaving WWE, Cody has been walking out to a Downstait track entitled, "Kingdom," which seems tailor-made for The American Nightmare.

    As far as wrestling themes go, "Kingdom" sounds like a generic rock song you'd hear at any wrestling event. There isn't really anything special to it, which is sad because I've always believed that for an entrance theme to make a mark, it has to capture your attention within the first five seconds. If it can't get you with the opening hook, then it's not doing its job. 

    From a female voice jazzily singing, "Here comes the money..." to the shattering glass, to the blaring horns in "Medal," you know exactly who's about to make an entrance when those themes play. "Kingdom" starts with a generic rock intro and a drum beat that you'd hear in just about any track from a post-grunge Spotify playlist.

    Where "Kingdom" stands out is in its lyrics because you can feel Cody, his struggle, and his story in the vocals of Downstait frontman Daren Zack Call. The first verse paints a picture of a post-WWE Cody, working the indys. He's got all these thoughts and emotions running through his head and all he's trying to focus on is the audience, for whom he's doing what he does best—performing in the ring.

    I'm just not sure how adrenaline enters one's soul though. Eh, it's post-emo rock.

    Adrenaline in my soul
    Every thought out of control
    Do it all to get them off their feet 

    Crowd is here, about to blow
    Waitin' for me to start the show
    Out the curtain, lights go up I'm home


    The pre-chorus is probably the best part of the song lyrically because of the allusion to Dusty Rhodes and his famous "Hard Times" promo. If that part doesn't get you to tear up, you've got no soul.

    And my father said when I was younger
    Hard times breed better men

    The chorus is Downstait projecting Cody's anger and frustration at WWE and how the latter is lashing out and making his own proverbial kingdom now that he's free. Cody is asserting himself now that he's broken away from where he used to be and wants to be his own king.

    You took it all away
    I give it all away
    Can't take my freedom

    Here to change the game
    A banner made of pain
    I built my kingdom

    Now you bow to me
    You took my dreams but not my name
    You'll follow me until the end
    I am my kingdom

    The line, "You took my dreams / but not my name" just comes across a little weird because WWE did technically take the Rhodes name away from him because of their ownership of the Cody Rhodes copyright. I mean, that's pretty much why he's just billed as Cody now—and why he cleverly gets around it by being announced along with brother Dustin Rhodes and wife Brandi Rhodes. 

    Lights go down
    I'm ready now
    Tear this roof off for the town
    Gonna give'em what they came to see

    Hear the crowd, on their toes
    Ready for me to start the show
    Out the curtain, lights go up, I'm home


    And my father said when I was younger
    Hard times breed better men

    The second verse paints a similar picture to that in the first, except this time, Cody has managed to channel everything in his head and heart into what he's about to do once he steps in that ring. He's ready to soak in the adulation (or hatred) of the audience. And he believes in his heart that once he's inside the squared circle, he is home. Again, not much to dig deeper into here. It speaks for itself.

    You tried to tell me what to do!
    I saw the door and kicked it down!

    I stepped right over and right through!
    And you can never stop me now!

    Bow! Now!

    I am the king and you're the crown!

    Now watch me as I take my throne
    And rule my kingdom!

    As the bridge hits, Downstait's vocalists (Daren and Justin Call, along with Sean Arata) get to screaming and they have a nice little back-and-forth here. It's nothing compared to the trademark screaming vocals of vocalists like the late Chester Bennington, Serj Tankian, or Corey Taylor. But for the purposes of being emphatic, sure, they get the job done.

    Remember that cringe-worthy scene at Double Or Nothing, where Cody takes a sledgehammer and awkwardly smashes through a throne that supposedly represents Triple H?


    This song telegraphed that very moment three years ago through the bridge.

    While I can appreciate Cody and Downstait collaborating on a song that encapsulates Cody's story since he left WWE, I just wish the final product stood out more. Based on what we've seen in Cody's work from his marketing, merchandise, gear, production value, and wrestling, you know how detail-oriented the guy is. "Kingdom" stands out in the worst way because of how pedestrian it seems compared to everything else.

    Cody deserved better and it's sad that he's stuck with this arrangement and theme for the last three years. I wish he'd had something more grandiose especially since he emerged as a big deal in NJPW and ROH, and now, he's one of the head honchos of AEW. Specific lyrics aside, I really expected (and wanted) more for Cody. Instead, all we got was generic rock drivel.

    What do you think about Cody's current entrance theme? Like it? Hate it? Sound off in the comments section below!

    Image from All Elite Wrestling


    Stan Sy (@_StanSy) is the Editor at Large of Smark Henry and is also a radio DJ on Wave 89.1, an 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, NXTLucha Underground, and the occasional New Japan match. You can ask him questions about wrestling, Survivor (yes, the reality show), or whatever you like on his CuriousCat account.
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    Item Reviewed: #ThemeSongTuesday: I Am My Kingdom Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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