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    Tuesday, May 18, 2021

    #ThemeSongTuesday: Jon Moxley Is a Wild Thing

    It's Tuesday. You know what that means.

    But first, a quick story: I woke up last Thursday to my wrestling group chat going off. "WILD THING!!!" "Holy shit! Tony Khan licensed Wild Thing!" "Mox has a new theme song!" Honestly, the only message that resonated with me was the last one because I'd never heard of "Wild Thing" before last week's Dynamite.

    In fact, it's one of the first things you'll hear on the broadcast since the show began with Jon Moxley defending his IWGP United States Championship against NJPW legend Yuji Nagata. And there it was. The Troggs' "Wild Thing" blared through Daily's Place as Mox triumphantly entered the arena. My first reaction was to Google how old the song was, and I found that it was 55 years old. The song came out in 1966. Damn. 

    My next reaction was, This has got to be the most un-wrestling entrance theme right now.

    Okay, before all the deathmatch marks come for my head, I know why Mox would change his entrance theme to this particular '60s garage rock song. It's a tribute to Japanese deathmatch wrestling pioneer Atsushi Onita, who famously entered to this song during his own in-ring career. 

    You'll notice that the version of "Wild Thing" that Onita used sounds way more energetic than Moxley's does. That's because it's a cover by American punk rock band X, which they released in 1984. I actually like this cover better than The Troggs' original version because it brings the '80s hair metal and stadium rock sound right to life. In fact, it's the type of song you'd expect to play in an arena just to rile people up, much like how wrestling companies use theme songs for their pay-per-views. 

    Speaking of "Wild Thing" being a sports anthem... 

    Yep, if you love your '80s sports movies, that's "Wild Thing" being played as Charlie Sheen's Ricky Vaughn makes his grand entrance in the climax of the 1989 film Major League. Used in this setting, I can totally see why someone like Onita would associate the song with a huge, bombastic entrance. After all, "Wild Thing" is an easy song to sing/scream, and anyone would get riled up just hearing this version. 

    Amusingly, as YouTube user Michael Farrow points out in the comment above, "Wild Thing" was associated with Japanese baseball thanks to Major League. I can see the connection since Japan does love baseball, and an American film entirely about baseball could very well influence the Japanese baseball fans much like the actual sport took on a life of its own in that country.

    Unfortunately, I just don't see any of the hype behind The Troggs' original version. Whenever I hear that song, I think of 1960s Americana—mom-and-pop shops, diners, Beatlemania, Archie comics—not car wrecks, demolition derbies, and bloodlust. I get it. Mox is honoring Onita here, but why couldn't Tony Khan have just licensed X's cover instead?

    Whenever I hear The Troggs' version of "Wild Thing," I don't feel like I'm about to watch a big fight go down. I feel like calmly driving through the city on a Sunday while my dad's favorite retro radio station plays songs like this in the background. That's really the biggest thing "Wild Thing" has going against it as an entrance theme. It doesn't set you up for a wrestling match. And it doesn't paint you a picture of who this wrestler is. You'd have to dig deep into a bit of research to know the history behind this song and Moxley's fandom of Onita to really understand it. It's not like Living Colour's "Cult of Personality," another licensed track, which really fit CM Punk's character as one of the biggest anti-establishment cult of personalities in his generation. 

    Of course, you can say, "This song doesn't sound like it belongs in wrestling," about a lot of other themes. Madonna's "Like A Prayer," B*Witched's "C'est La Vie," and Baltimora's "Tarzan Boy" immediately come to mind as examples. All of this tells me that I'm likely going to get used to hearing "Wild Thing" and associating it with Moxley, and so will you. In fact, when the song resonates with the audience more—as arenas start to welcome more people—it'll probably start feeling like a song you'd hear mid-riot. It'll just take some time. I just wish AEW went with X's cover. Ugh.

    One final note: while listening to "Wild Thing," I couldn't help but notice that its main chords sounded like the entrance theme of another hardcore legend.


    According to Young Rock reviewer Migz Llado, "The chords in Foley's entrance theme go downward (A-F#-E) in power chords. Meanwhile, 'Wild Thing' is doing the normal chord set (A-D-E), but F# and D sound similar to one another." The dude actually took some time out to listen to both songs and played the chords on his guitar. You know what, I wouldn't be surprised if Foley and longtime WWE music producer Jim Johnston took some inspiration from Onita and "Wild Thing."

    Now that you know the connection between "Wild Thing," pro wrestling, and baseball, which version do you like better? The Troggs', which Jon Moxley will be using on AEW programming going forward, or X's, which Onita used in FMW? Let us know in the comments section!

    Header image from AEW


    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: Jon Moxley Is a Wild Thing Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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