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    Tuesday, October 13, 2020

    #ThemeSongTuesday: This Song Is Sacred


    When you talk about wrestling themes that really command one's attention, you think of bangers like Stone Cold's iconic theme song, John Cena's "Basic Thuganomics," Edge's "Metalingus," The Undisputed ERA's theme, or even a slow, hypnotic one like The Undertaker's. You think of a song that inspires that big fight feel and imagine hearing an anthem that falls under the rock or hip-hop genres.

    Who would've thought you could elicit the same emotions out of a classical piece like "Symphony No. 9 in E minor?"

    And yet, we can feel those same feelings of fear, intimidation, and foreboding violence from the "New World Symphony" because of one Ring General.

    There have been countless, more eloquent pieces on the "New World Symphony," its composition, and the sonic journey it takes you, so I'm going to let you seek those articles out on your own. What we're breaking down on this week's #ThemeSongTuesday is how a symphony like this became a staple in pro wrestling.

    Years before WALTER made his way to NXT UK, he was already leaving handprints on fools' chests and brutalizing them while coming out to Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 "From the New World." Whether he was walking to the ring on his own or with Ringkampf members by his side, that classic symphony would play and his legions of fans in the audience would gleefully sing along with the strings that have been associated with the Ring General and his matches.

    The entire symphony itself is a 40-minute performance, but the section we're most familiar with is the fourth and final movement, which is identified as Allegro con fuoco.

    Written in sonata form, you hear that distinct strings intro that signals danger. And then the horns and trumpets come in sharp chords as they play the main theme. About a minute and a half into the movement, the clarinet comes in above the tremolos in the strings, which slows the theme down into a more calming progression. WALTER's entrances don't normally last long enough to go past the first section, so we'll focus on that for the purposes of this column.

    So why does a classical Dvořák piece work and not make this Austrian dude look like a dweeb?

    It's simple, really. The music completes the entire package.

    WALTER's gimmick has always been that of a no-nonsense wrestler who takes his craft so seriously that his motto is "The mat is sacred." Whether it was in German (Die Matte ist heilig) or in English, as you'd see in Imperium's ring gear, you get the sense that this guy does not fuck around. He doesn't have time for your jokes and shenanigans. There is nothing more important than preserving the sanctity of the sport and anyone who dares tarnish that is going to be beaten within an inch of their lives. There is nothing flashy about his presentation nor his gear. He shows up, strikes fear, conquers, and then departs.

    That's what makes his music so fitting. It's classical. It's serious. And it's very well capable of rousing up different emotions.

    Those strings at the start? They signal your doom. And that musical cue is so ingrained in pop culture that legendary composer John Williams basically ripped it off and incorporated it into the Jaws theme, which is probably why you associate those low strings with danger and fear.

    When the horns and trumpets join the swell into the main theme, you imagine them drawing your attention towards a regal figure. Whoever's coming out to this music is somebody who you better fucking respect or else. And WALTER—and by extension, whichever members of Ringkampf or Imperium he has with him—carry themselves with that class. They don't posture to the crowd. There is no pandering. They stand there on stage, fully aware of the respect they must command, while purposefully walking to the ring with the air of superiority you can expect from someone who'd choose classical music over contemporary fare in the modern era.

    Whenever I hear "Symphony No. 9," I think of WALTER. I think of the Ring General reminding everybody to take this business seriously. I don't care about whether or not he's a babyface or a heel. I only care about upholding what this man is fighting for and treating the mat as it should be: a sacred ground for the sport I love the most.

    If you want to see an epic live version of this entrance, you should check out WALTER's entrance from PROGRESS Wrestling's Chapter 76: Hello Wembley event from October 2018. He defended his PROGRESS World Championship against Tyler Bate and had two female violinists play the iconic string section from "Symphony No. 9" before the actual theme played and the champion came out. If that shit doesn't bring you to tears and give you goosebumps, you have no soul.

    When WALTER debuted in WWE last year, many wondered whether he would be able to take his iconic theme with him. As we now know, the reason we're able to hear "Symphony No. 9" in its full glory is because such a classical piece has existed long enough—without copyright—that it's now become part of the public domain. 

    Up until last month—prior to NXT UK's restart—WALTER and Imperium had been able to come out to a version of their entrance theme that didn't have its own WWE remix. That all changed when WWE uploaded this.

    The main differences in WWE's remix are the use of synth instruments instead of actual horns, trumpets, and strings, as well as the use of drums. I'm guessing WWE Music Group wanted to give the piece a bit of oomph, which explains the addition of the percussions. After having listened to it a handful of times, I'm not a fan of it. The synths feel too inorganic for me to appreciate how classic the piece is, especially after having listened to a recording of an actual orchestra playing it several times. I also didn't need the drums to add intensity to an already intimidating track. WALTER never needed that shit in PROGRESS or wXw, so I don't see why he'd need it to add to his fearsome nature in NXT UK.

    The verdict is simple. Ditch the remix and just bring back the original version that Imperium used to come out to. There's a reason why they say that classics never go out of style.

    And in the case of "Symphony No. 9 in E minor," its unremixed version is very much like the mat. It is sacred.

    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: This Song Is Sacred Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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