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    Wednesday, June 3, 2020

    #CafePuro: Jamming To Puroresu Themes

    Image from  Timeline Japan  on YouTube

    Finding puroresu theme songs can be a challenge for many listeners. Even in 2020, the most reliable way of getting your Japanese wrestling music fix is to buy the CDs from record shops in Japan. However, not everyone has the luxury of going to Japan and dropping by the nearest Tower Records or NJPW's Tokon Shop. 

    When NJPW released its NJPW Entrance Theme Medley on YouTube, I put this list together to give the Smark Henry faithful the opportunity to listen to puroresu theme songs in their free time.
    Luckily, there are a handful of puroresu theme songs you can find on Spotify right now and I want to share some of them with you.

    1. "Roppongi 3K Theme" by Rocky Romero (Roppongi 3K)

    Fans who are new to NJPW may not know that Rocky Romero made his own theme song "Nakasuzo Road," as well as the Roppongi Vice theme song from his days tagging with former teammate Trent Baretta. Rocky added another wrestling theme to his repertoire with the theme for SHO & YOH, also known as Roppongi 3K.

    Formerly known as the Tempura Boys in ROH, Roppongi 3K are the stalwarts of the junior heavyweight tag team division of New Japan. SHO is the powerhouse who can match up with the heavyweights, while YOH provides the speed during fast-paced matches.

    The R3K theme is much more energetic with little hints of aggression compared to the other themes that Rocky Romero has made and it's a way of telling audiences that R3K can provide jaw-dropping aerial moves, while still delivering on hard-hitting action.

    Rocky even made the theme song crowd-friendly by providing a part that the fans can chant along to in the "RO-PPON-GI" hook so they can cheer for New Japan's top junior heavyweight babyface team. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the biggest fan of the theme, but you can't help but chant "RO-PPON-GI!" every time the phrase pops up.

    You can find R3K's theme, along with Roppongi Vice and Rocky's solo theme, on Spotify.

    2. "Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin (Togi Makabe)

    When you're watching a stream on NJPW World, you will notice that a few theme songs are dubbed over due to licensing restrictions. Sometimes, you'll get lucky and catch the occasional slip up from NJPW World when they forget to cover up the song. One famous example of a wrestler whose entrance music is dubbed over is Togi Makabe's.

    The issue that NJPW encounters with Makabe's music is the fact his theme, "Immigrant Song," is by Led Zeppelin and it can be costly for New Japan to pay the band's record label residual checks every time the song gets played. In order to avoid paying licensing fees, NJPW dubs over "Immigrant Song" with generic rock music. Sometimes, the generic music can end up being even better than the real music depending on who you ask.

    Luckily, you won't experience the same problem on Spotify as Japanese band HOTEI's official page has Makabe's music without any restrictions. If we compare the original Led Zeppelin version to HOTEI's version, you can tell that HOTEI's cover of Immigrant Song is much more intense and uses extra high-tech sound effects to give off an electronic vibe. That's not to say that Led Zeppelin's version isn't cool though. HOTEI just adds an extra bit more of energy to get the NJPW fans ready for a Makabe match.

    3. "Brooklyn the Hole" by Maki Itoh (Maki Itoh)

    Bow down before the NEO ITOH RESPECT ARMY! TJPW's disgruntled idol wrestler utilizes her idol training by singing her own theme music!

    For those unfamiliar, Maki Itoh used to be part of a Fukuoka-based idol group called Linq. Ever since she joined the group, she was seen as a little crazy, their own black sheep. Her rebellious mindset gained her a ton of followers until she transitioned to joshi puroresu, where she finally unleashed her true colors.

    "Brooklyn the Hole" is much more intense compared to her original theme, "Setsunairo," which sounded more like an anime opening theme song. This new theme fits Maki Itoh much better as she begins to be taken more seriously as a wrestler. However, "Brooklyn the Hole" doesn't lose the softer side of Maki Itoh, who is the cutest wrestler in the world. I can compare the sound of this song to any song coming from Babymetal, which is also a mix of light-hearted singing with a heavy metal sound.

    You can find Maki Itoh's theme on her Spotify page.

    4. "Eternal Beauty" (RIHO)

    Another joshi whose theme song is available on Spotify is Riho. I'm not very familiar with Riho but I do recall that the former AEW Women's Champion is a freelancer who has competed in companies like Gatoh Move, Stardom, and even our very own PWR. She is one of the many students that wrestling legend Emi Sakura has trained along with the likes of current AEW Women's Champion Hikaru Shida.  Her theme song is performed by YMZnoMasaki, a Japanese Electro Music Artist.

    The song is fast-paced and upbeat just like Riho's wrestling style. You just can't help but move around to Riho's theme song. Like the free spirit that she is, Riho's theme is all over the place with the electronica sound to keep you jumping or to pump you up during a workout.

    5. "Kaze Ni Nare" (Minoru Suzuki)

    When it comes to puroresu themes, very few songs can match the status of "Kaze Ni Nare." Suzuki's theme song is sung by popular Japanese singer Ayumi Nakamura. She has been in the music industry since the early '80s and continues to be active until today. 

    You may be wondering why other licensed music is dubbed over when Nakamura's song isn't. The answer is simply because Minoru Suzuki is friends with Ayumi Nakamura and they found a way to agree on how to use her theme in NJPW shows. There are a few occasions when the theme is dubbed over, such as the G1 Supercard in Madison Square Garden, but the song has been played in almost every NJPW show for the most part.

    The phrase "Kaze Ni Nare" means "be the wind," which is significant in Japanese culture. Wind represents freedom and growth and just like the wind, Minoru Suzuki is a freelance wrestler who goes where he wants to and is feared by everyone.

    Another interesting tradition of the theme is that everyone pauses to make way for fans to shout "Kaze Ni Nare!" No matter where you go, no matter what you do, the most-feared man in professional wrestling and maybe the world, receives chants that very few wrestling chants can equal. I still get chills from watching the clip on YouTube and you should, too!

    You can find several versions of "Kaze Ni Nare," including the updated version, on Ayumi Nakamura's Spotify Page.

    What's your favorite puroresu theme song? Leave yours in the comments below!

    Steven Maxwell Tan is a data encoder by day and blogger/podcaster by night. He mainly writes articles on puroresu, cartoons and comics for The Geeky Juans. You can find him raving about the latest Looney Tunes Short or Comic Book update on his Twitter @steviesaidyup

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    Item Reviewed: #CafePuro: Jamming To Puroresu Themes Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Steven Maxwell Tan
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