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    Tuesday, February 23, 2021

    #ThemeSongTuesday: Who Took Us Back To The Mid-2000s?!

    I wouldn't be surprised if someone in WWE's music team is a millennial in their early 30s going through an existential crisis, while only finding solace in the pop-punk music they once headbanged to as an angsty teenager. It's your boy Stan Sy, returning for another #ThemeSongTuesday.

    This week's #TST features the entrance theme of one of NXT UK's hottest prospects, Ben Carpenter Carter. (If you know, you know.)

    When he made his debut on the January 7 episode of NXT UK, I immediately noticed that his song wasn't just a loop unlike that of his contemporaries on the same show, their stateside counterpart, or even the main roster. It was a full song that immediately took me back to the pop-punk sound that dominated the airwaves during the mid-to-late-2000s, which I realize is now at least a good 15 years ago. Fuck.

    After Carter's impressive showing against Sha Samuels on last week's episode, I couldn't get the song out of my head, so I turned to Google to see if the full version was somewhere out there. And great Scott, it was!

    The good samaritan behind the Devil of Wrestling YouTube channel uploaded the full track and I haven't stopped playing it all weekend. It's entitled "Alive Again" and the credits go to Gabriel Candiani, Hiram Hernandez Jr., & Owen Doheny. Another Google search will tell you that "Alive Again" is registered under Warner Chappelle Music, which is part of the Warner Music Group.

    While it's still unknown who actually sang this banger, its producers—the people behind the musical direction of the song—aren't jabronis by any means. Gabriel Candini's résumé includes years' worth of records for industry giants like Sony, BMG, and Universal, as well as producing credits for the likes of Ciara, Missy Elliott, Pitbull, and Sean Paul. Meanwhile, Hiram Hernandez Jr.'s LinkedIn profile will tell you that he's a producer, singer, and songwriter at Warner Music Group.

    "Alive Again" is one of those weird wrestling songs that I love not because it's a great wrestling theme, but because it's just a great song, full stop. 

    The two things I look for in a great wrestling entrance theme aren't present in the song. It doesn't have a hook that you'd instantly recognize in the first five seconds. And it doesn't paint a very good picture of Ben Carter's character at all unless he starts packaging himself as a wanderer going through his own existential crisis.

    That said, the fact that Carter's got an actual complete song for an entrance theme already puts him head and shoulders above most of his WWE contemporaries in the entrance theme department. And it probably also puts him in the same category as fellow NXT UK Superstar Mark Andrews, whose own entrance theme sounds like it was taken straight out of a Pop Goes Punk! compilation.

    Listening to "Alive Again" takes me back to my teenage years in the mid-to-late oughts, when my iPod's—remember those?—play count was dominated by groups like Anberlin, Faber Drive, My Chemical Romance, Yellowcard, and other bands that really captured the emo-rock sound of its time. The opening chords alone make me want to bang my head and grow my bangs out. The vocalist's nasal singing style sounds very much like Tyson Ritter of the All-American Rejects, while the alternating sagutan-style (translation: dueling) vocals in the chorus immediately reminded me of Anberlin's "Paperthin Hymn" (and all the tears we cried with that song blaring in the background).

    A random emo guy from the 2000s for context. What an artifact.

    "Alive Again" also captures the overall vibe of an angsty, emotional twenty-something white boy, much like Yellowcard's "Only One" did in 2005, especially when you compare the last choruses of both tracks when they crescendo towards their respective climaxes. If you want a local comparison, let me offer Typecast's "Will You Ever Learn," which has Pinoy screamo splattered all over it. As a bonus, the guitar solo towards the end of "Will You Ever Learn" actually sounds a lot like a generic wrestling theme that would be given to you if you were an enhancement talent being trotted out to get squashed. If I could travel back in time and casually slip an mp3 copy of Ben Carter's theme into my high school self's CDs, I bet I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between that song and the rest of its ilk. 

    Going back to framing this song as a wrestling theme, does "Alive Again" make me want to get in a mood to kick someone's ass? It doesn't. It makes me want to get angsty, sure. But it doesn't spur any desire to open a can of whoop-ass. That said, my teenage self was pretty emotionally volatile that it wouldn't take much to get me to go berserk then.

    I really don't know why this song got chosen as Ben Carter's theme. Maybe he's at that stage of his life and just really identifies with the song. Or maybe Ben Carter's look is supposed to remind me of that emotionally-charged time in my life. I'm going to stand by my opinion that "Alive Again" is an odd choice for an entrance theme.

    All that said, it's fucking great and the emo kid in me that I thought had long died cannot stop listening to it. Now if only I can grow my bangs out again like I did 15 years ago.

    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.

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    Item Reviewed: #ThemeSongTuesday: Who Took Us Back To The Mid-2000s?! Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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