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    Tuesday, February 2, 2021

    #ThemeSongTuesday: It's... It's Christian!

    It's Tuesday. You know what that means.

    We're just a day removed from one of the most enjoyable pairs of Royal Rumble matches in recent memory, and WWE has positioned itself pretty well heading into WrestleMania season... at least for now. I won't go into all those sliding doors moments—that's what The Wrestling-Wrestling Podcast is for—so let's focus on the biggest surprise from this year's Royal Rumble event.

    This tweet's caption and this article's title are references to that infamous Todd Grisham call on the February 10, 2009 episode of ECW when Christian made his return to WWE. It's a moment that still gets mocked on the internet today because of how Grisham severely undersold this huge return. For readers that are too young to remember, Christian had left WWE in November 2005 because he bet on himself and wanted to see if he could be the top guy outside WWE—achieving that in TNA, where he was a multiple-time world champion between 2005 and 2008.

    Christian has had multiple entrance themes as a singles star, but his most memorable one is arguably the song he continues to use as his entrance theme, "Just Close Your Eyes." There have been two versions of this song: there's one by Jim Johnston and Story Of The Year—yes, that Story Of The Year that gave you hits such as "Until the Day I Die" and "Anthem of Our Dying Day" in the mid-2000s. That's the version Christian has been using since his second run in WWE. And then there's the original version by Waterproof Blonde, a rock band from Louisville, Kentucky that, according to their MySpace page, disbanded in 2005. 

    I've always considered the Story Of The Year version a poor man's version of the original because I've always enjoyed the original version with Rachel Hagan's vocals. What I like about this version, though, is how it immediately hypes you up. It starts with the bass drums quickly building up to vocalist Dan Marsala yelling, "GO!" Then, the familiar hook kicks in. It's exactly how you'd imagine an emo/pop-punk song from the 2000s to sound—a heavy drum beat mixed with your guitar shredding and nasal vocals. Compared to the original track from Waterproof Blonde, the Story Of The Year version has a much faster tempo and doesn't really slow down. 

    It's meant to be a wrestling theme: it starts with an instantly (classic) recognizable hook, keeps the momentum at a steady level, and sets the tone for the wrestler making their entrance. Over time, I warmed up to this song and even began to include it in my workout playlists. After realizing that Christian has spent basically the entire second half of his career coming out to this song, it's become a sentimental favorite. But it really doesn't match up to the original as a song. That said, the Story Of The Year version is clearly the better wrestling theme.

    Now we're getting to the REALLY GOOD SHIT

    14-year-old me always found it fascinating that this outstanding wrestler came out to a song sung by a woman, even though he wasn't being portrayed as a feminine or gay character. You have to understand that wrestling was hella different then, and with that context, Teenage Me found Christian walking out to Waterproof Blonde so unusual and cool. It's a far cry from today when someone like Johnny Gargano can come out to a song sung by a female vocalist, and nobody would bat an eye.

    I loved how the synth organs immediately sent a chill down my spine and made me feel like someone important was about to come out. And then once the drums kick in, you'd have Waterproof Blonde's Rachel Hagan immediately going hard on the hook, stressing, "You'll see if you just close your eyes." Much like in the video above, this version of Christian's theme was basically just a loop of the song's chorus, along with a lone verse that you'll only hear if you listen to the entire track. So imagine my surprise when the song was included in WWE Music released ThemeAddict: WWE The Music, Vol. 6 in 2004, and it included "Just Close Your Eyes" in full!

    The full song is an actual song, as it doesn't sound like it was written to be used as a wrestling theme. It starts with a slow tambourine metronome and Hagan's haunting vocals, setting the mood for what's supposed to be a dark song. As the track progresses towards the pre-chorus, it picks up with the guitars and builds towards the enlightening vibe we're more familiar with. Waterproof Blonde's version is slower and more "steady" than Story Of The Year's version, which has shades of The Cranberries' "Zombie," now that I think about it.

    If this is your first time listening to the Waterproof Blonde version, you'll notice that the song doesn't really get to the part you heard on WWE programming until the bridge—which was the verse in the WWE cut—and the final chorus, where the band goes all-out, knowing that they're at the song's peak. I've always loved this version more just because it felt like an entire song with a story. From being deceived and shrouded in darkness, you find the truth and the light... by closing your eyes. It sounds so cultish and but I love this song to care too much about its meaning. I've always associated it with Christian, one of my favorite wrestlers ever that all I think about is happy thoughts when this song comes on.

    What's amusing about the Waterproof Blonde version of "Just Close Your Eyes"—which Christian only really used for a year (from November 2004 until he left WWE the following year)—is that it inspired his TNA theme, "Take Over" by Dale Oliver. 

    It starts with a techno beat, then leads into a beat that eerily reminds me of the intro to "Just Close Your Eyes," and then it leads to this eerie synth keyboard on top of guitars and drums. "Take Over" is an instrumental song that just sounds so much like the Waterproof Blonde song because it's got the same dark edge to it. But when you listen closely to the chords, it sounds like a tune that a female vocalist could perform better than a male vocalist.

    It turns out Dale Oliver took a page out of WCW's playbook and got some direct inspiration from an album cut off Evanescence's debut studio album from 2003, Fallen. This is Evanescence's "My Last Breath."

    Sounds familiar, huh?

    From the techno elements to the tempo to the synths and the arrangement... Dale Oliver must have thought that TNA fans didn't know of Evanescence or that Evanescence fans wouldn't know of TNA. But the internet caught on over the years and made so many mashups of both songs that it's still easy to find them on YouTube to this day! Someone from Evanescence's management or record label must have eventually caught on and put pressure on TNA to change the theme, leading to the edited version that Christian Cage wound up using towards the latter year of his TNA run.

    You still have the techno beat in the intro, but the metronome added cymbals, and then you have a slightly different synth arrangement in there, while the drums are much more prominent on this cut. It's funny that this happened because wrestling has had a long history of borrowing arrangements from existing music by mainstream artists and turning them into wrestlers' themes, from Carmella's song ripping off Iggy Azalea's "Fancy," to Chris Jericho's WCW theme ripping off Pearl Jam's "Even Flow," to 3 Count's theme ripping off the Backstreet Boys' "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)." Clearly, Christian Cage's TNA theme was no exception.

    As an added bonus, let me include Christian's first theme as a singles star, which still gets a lot of love from wrestling fans who were old enough to remember his days as Edge's younger brother from The Brood.

    The theme actually slaps because of how off-the-wall it is. First, you've got the chorus singing, "CHRISTIAAAAAN! CHRISTIAAAAAN! AT LAST! YOU'RE ON YOUR OOOOOWN!" in perfect harmony. And then you've got this generic-sounding loop in the middle before a tenor passionately sings in FUCKING ITALIAN! If you've always been curious about what the Italian lyrics meant, I've transcribed them for you below:

    The storm around me has finally passed
    And now my future is in front of me
    No longer bound by my brother
    The world, the world, the world
    Is mine at last!!!

    Damn. That... was actually perfect given his story of having broken away from Edge at the time.

    I remember this song being part of the Smark Henry wrestling workout playlist and just hating it every time it came on while I was in the middle of a squat. But the sheer wackiness of it all made me fall in love with the song eventually.

    What's your favorite Christian entrance theme? And more importantly, did you lose your mind when Captain Charisma made his surprise return? Hit us up in the comments below!

    Header image from WWE


    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 the host of On Deck, as well as one of the hosts of The Wrestling-Wrestling Podcast. He also used to be one of the hosts and writers of The Wrestling Gods on FOX. He enjoys watching WWE, AEW, and the occasional New Japan match. THIS WEBSITE'S BIGGEST EDGE AND CHRISTIAN FAN AND HE WROTE THIS ON THE HAPPIEST DAY OF HIS LIFE!

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    Item Reviewed: #ThemeSongTuesday: It's... It's Christian! Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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