WWF: The Music Volume 3
Koch Records, 1998
REVIEW BY: Alfredo Narvaez
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/05/1999
Admit it. You watch. You like to watch.
Professional wrestling has moved out into the spotlight. Shows sell out, pay-per-view events get millions, TV shows own the nights they appear. It no longer is the spectacle of choice of just the rednecks, the blue-collar workers and the gullible. Now, doctors, college students and movie stars are all tuning in on Monday nights to watch their favorite shows and wrestlers shout, scream and "fight." This resurgence has perhaps not been seen before - not even in the 80s heyday of Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan.
Why is it that wrestling is so popular? I think that it is because their dirty secret is out. For decades, it was known by all that pro wrestling wasn't exactly a sport. Matches were fixed, wrestlers faked their moves and their effect, titles changed hands more quickly than the flavor-of-the-week teen sensation. We all knew it, but they tried to keep it hidden. Now, that is no longer the case, but it doesn't matter because the fighting has taken a back seat. It is no longer a "sport," it's a show. And as such, for two hours a week - or more depending on how much you watch - these actor/athletes pretend to hurt each other, call each other names and try to give their audience the best time possible.
Now, I know what you're thinking. "Hey, isn't this supposed to be an album review? What does all the diatribe above have to do with it?" Well, if, for example, WWF's Monday Night Raw is a show, then this album is its soundtrack. And that's exactly the way to think of this album. Themes for characters in a show that's one-third soap opera, one-third Friday Night Fights and one-third rock concert.
As a show, the theme music helps introduce the various wrestlers to the audience. That's its basic job. However, the themes also give the listener the basic idea on who it is, what the wrestler's attitude is like and his "allegiance" to any particular group. Now, if you've never seen a wrestling show, those previous statements made no sense. If you've seen one, you know what I'm talking about. But I'll explain.
The album starts with the ominous theme for "The Undertaker." The chorus behind it and the mean riff should immediately tell you that this wrestler isn't the nicest of guys. He's not the bright and cheerful fella that is out there for the fans. (Please note: all of this is about the wrestler, not the person okay?) Neither is Kane and his theme follows along similar lines. Ominous chanting, deep rock riffs and a sense of darkness. I prefer the Undertaker's theme to Kane's, simply because it's more rock-oriented.
Speaking of rock oriented, you also have "Stone Cold Steve Austin," "D-Generation X" and "New Age Outlaws." Stone Cold's theme is well-known just simply by the opening sound of glass shattering. Beyond that is a mean-heavy riff, reminiscent of early heavy metal. On the other hand, D-X's theme is more modern. It sounds like it was laid down by Rage Against the Machine. Though the lyrics are trite, the music more than makes up for it. And, once again, the themes serve the fans by telling you who it is and what they stand for. These aren't mommies' darlings. (Or so we are led to believe). Likewise is the theme for "Gangrel-The Brood." It is as ominous as the Undertaker's, but with a clear gothic feel. Like you're in the church from hell.
On the amusing side, you have themes for "The Rock" - which is nothing more than the Rock's various catch phrases repeated over various beats - and "Val Venis" - which sounds like it came from a bad 70s porn film. (No! I'm not insinuating that I've ever watched bad 70s porn!) Yet again, these themes play into the wrestlers' personas. The Rock is a very conceited and self-assured wrestler. He acts like a jerk and it is this reason why he is a fan favorite. Meanwhile, Val Venis is always attracting attention to the "Big Valbowski" (guess what it is) and bedding a number of the inflatable dolls that strut down the ramp. Both tracks capture their attitudes rather well and you find yourself listening to them - even though they aren't that musically inclined.
Yet there are quite a few problems with this album though. First of all, if you know anything about wrestling it is that the "athletes" change names, allegiances, songs and even companies the way that pro athletes change teams. Therefore, some of the wrestlers who appear on this album - which is over a year old - may not call themselves the names that appear or may not even be with the WWF anymore. For example, the New Age Outlaws were a tag team that broke up. Now, their theme music is used by one of the two wrestlers - if you're a fan, you know who. At the same time, some of the newer themes don't appear here. Like Mankind's, Triple H's or the Godfather's.
The second problem is that a few of the tracks fall flat. "Sable" tries to be both a rock song and dance theme for the former wrestler/manager/Playboy pin-up. I don't buy it. Too many kittens pulling at the strings. Another one that I didn't favor was the "Oddities." While it is true that the Insane Clown Posse bequeathed this group with the song, I don't know why. It sounds like, at best, a B-side and, at worst, something that didn't work in the studios, but they had to use anyhow. By the way, both Sable and the Oddities are examples of how wrestlers dissapear from the map in a flash. Check out any of the WWF's shows and you won't find either one.
The biggest problem in this album though is one word: repetitiveness. I don't mean the same themes reappearing or the same music. I mean the same sequences. Listen to any of these tracks and, after they hit the 1:30 mark, they will repeat themselves on and on until fadeout. Why is that? Well, most wrestlers' music is designed to be played for a minute or so and nothing more, which is no problem while the show is going on. But how do you stretch one minute plus sequences into three minutes of music? For this album, they simply repeat the music. That means that you are not listening to true songs, but what I call "songlets." They're snipplets of songs. What the WWF should have done is ask whoever created these themes to flesh them out and write full songs. Most of the songs, you will find, get repetitive after a while and you tune them out. That is not good.
If you're not a wrestling fan, then more than likely you will not pick up this album. Honestly that is no great loss. For wrestling fans, this album might be a novelty pick up. Most diehards already have this album and that's great. Nevertheless, don't judge most shows just by their music. Watch one of them. Because if you don't know, then - ah, fans know the rest.