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    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

    #ThemeSongTuesday (2/2/16): I Am Phenomenal

    Surreal. After seeing this word used to describe A.J. Styles’ WWE debut countless times on the internet, I promised myself it wouldn’t show up in this article once. However, I’d like to see you find another word that fits better. The Phenomenal One is as synonymous with pro-wrestling as Netflix is to intercourse. He’s penetrated them all, furiously pumping out championship after championship, winning 51 of them over the course of his ongoing 18-year career.

    Source: ROH
    After making a meteoric impact on promotions like TNA, ROH, and NJPW, the only stone left unturned for Styles was far from a stone. It was a boulder called WWE. A boulder he’s previously attempted to turn, but one match in 2002 and a few months later, A.J. Styles decided to go down the TNA path. Not only did he turn this boulder over fourteen years later at this year’s Royal Rumble, he picked it up, brought it to the moon, and threw it back down on Earth with the force of a thousand Goldberg spears. Sorry, one thousand Nunzios.

    While we had no choice but to look at Roman Reigns’ confused mug, we heard the opening organ and tambourine beats of A.J. Styles’ first WWE theme: “Phenomenal”. Let’s find out why everyone’s so divided on this theme.

    First, let’s clear some misconceptions. No, it isn’t DMX’s “Ain’t No Sunshine”. In-house composers CFO$ are no strangers to the “Suspiciously Similar Song” trope. (Carmella’s theme is literally “Fancy”, by Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX)

    Second, we were honeymoon’d by this theme hard. Hearing it live at the Rumble; seeing A.J. “Fucking” Styles slowly walk the ramp was indescribable. Styles staring IWC pariah Roman Reigns down was a sensory overload. Whether it’s because our standards for WWE programming have never been lower or because the moment really was straight out of a dream, we wanted this sick hip-hop theme on repeat. To think we didn’t even know the lyrics! But alas, lyrics eventually get heard and honeymoons eventually end.
    “No, they don’t want none / No, they don’t want none / They looking scared / No they don't really want none”
    Contrary to the hook, we do want some… none! What some fans are having pure none of, however, are the lyrics. Granted, the verse spits out some cheesy lines:
    “We some southern boys / With the farmer strength / Ain't nobody man enough to feel the pain / And you could be next / You better give respect / Cause ain't nobody breaking this redneck”
    Remember: a WWE theme without various buzzwords for lyrics is a Jolly Spaghetti without hotdogs. Do we need to go over RAW’s current theme again? The hotdogs to Styles’ spaghetti are an homage to his southern roots, with a few even certain that this was a theme originally written for Delaware native tag team The Briscoe Brothers. Honestly, it does make sense. The lyrics mention southern “boys” and “kings”. Plural. Think about it, though: Your promotion successfully signs a legend of American pro-wrestling...and you give him an old, unused tag team theme? You and I know that isn’t what’s best for business.

    Come on, guys. Jay Briscoe told him!
    Third, did WWE hire the same DMX-sounding rapper they got for “You Can Run”, Billy Kidman’s old theme?

    Despite the faults, there are a few things that “Phenomenal” gets so damn right as a theme. For starters, it’s refreshing to hear an interpretation of a character’s formidability without going straight to hardcore rock instrumentals. CFO$ had a bad habit of using similar sounding distorted guitars and heavy percussion for several “badass” characters, so to hear such a different approach for A.J. Styles’ theme sends the same message Bray Wyatt’s does. A theme doesn’t dictate what the audience should feel. A theme sets the tone and lets the wrestler do the rest. “Phenomenal” set the mysterious tone, and A.J. Styles did the rest.

    For those that have followed The Phenomenal One throughout his illustrious career: I completely understand if you think his WWE theme falls short. Compare “Phenomenal” to some of his previous entrance songs, for example:

    “Evil Ways”, a dark and brooding hard blues theme by Blues Saraceno. Used during his heel run in TNA. Superb. Film soundtrack level.

    Containing a sample worthy of a Kanye West track, his last ROH theme “Demi-Gods” took elements from one of his earlier themes and added rap verses, possibly what his WWE would’ve sounded like if CFO$ decided to keep their staple rock treatment.

    And “Styles Clash” by Yonosuke Kitamura. Such an explosive, energetic track that manages to avoid going overboard, successfully sending the intense message it intends to. Not necessarily the most inspired or church-friendly lyrics—”Fuck your dreams, fuck your life / Fuck your dreams fuck your life”—but unique enough to catch your attention and keep you hyped.

    Source: WWE
    What do you think of A.J. Styles’ debut WWE theme? Did CFO$ do The Phenomenal One justice or did they fall short once again? Let us know!


    When he isn't writing Smark Henry's #ThemeSongTuesday column, Lorenzo Magnaye hosts the #HomeRun on 99.5 PlayFM. It's a good thing, too, since his childhood consisted mostly of watching professional wrestling and listening to his parents on the radio. He's only recently rekindled his love for the WWE, and has been trying to make up for missing out on everything post-WrestleMania XX by praying to Seth Rollins thrice a day. Follow him on Twitter: @RenzoSaurus!
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    Item Reviewed: #ThemeSongTuesday (2/2/16): I Am Phenomenal Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Unknown
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