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WRESTLEMANIA: The Album! The Horror!

Wrestlemania, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, WWF, Wrestling

The year was 1994. The eight-year-old version of T.J Martinez was a diehard professional wrestling fan. I was all about everything WWF.  Posters, action figures, toy championship belts and video games would supplement my weekly commitment of watching every match on every Saturday morning recap show, programs in syndication, and Monday Night Raw. I even had my parents buy me a copy of WWF Magazine every single month. I had to have my hands on every thing WWF and that unfortunately leads us to this week’s column.

Pro wrestling would not be the same without music. Many wrestlers or sports entertainers, whatever you want to call them, would not be who they are without their theme songs. There’s nothing like hearing “Real American” and watching the immortal Hulk Hogan run in to save the day, or the glass shatter and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin comes in ready to open a can of whoop ass. It adds to the excitement and brings the characters portrayed in the ring a little bit more to life. I think we all wish we could have a theme song play whenever we enter a room. The President gets “Hail to the Chief.” Closers in baseball, notably the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera with “Enter Sandman,” get pumped with their music and the crowd’s roar to shut the opponent’s door at a baseball game. So the eight-year-old me assumed (and you know what happens when you assume) that the 1993 WWF music release, Wrestlemania: The Album would be an incredible musical experience. It sure was an experience.

WWE, WWF, Vince McMahon, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, Brett The Hitman Hart, Macho Man Randy Savage

To sum it up quickly and as less-painfully as I can, Wrestlemania: The Album is not a collection of wrestler theme songs. Whether I thought it was before getting it from my parents, I’m not so sure. That part of the story is a bit foggy. But it is a collection of songs inspired by and actually “performed” by WWF superstars. Performed, in parentheses, because a lot of the songs are just instrumentals with the wrestlers talking over them or sound bites from broadcasts spliced in.

“Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, The Nasty Boys, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, The Undertaker (!!), Macho Man” Randy Savage (!!!), Tatanka, Mr. Perfect and The Big Boss Man all lend their angelic voices to the cause. I can’t believe that someone, in the building formerly known as Titan Tower in Stanford, Connecticut, thought this would be a good idea. I guess they were thinking, at the very least, to make some money and strike while the iron was relatively hot. They got me hooked for a while. I would listen to the album on the Walkman which I would take with me everywhere. I remember our family was out west in the summer of 1994, taking a trip from Seattle to Nevada. I remember my uncle letting me play the tape in the car he rented as we partook in this journey. We’re cool now, he and I, but I wonder to this day whether he ever resented me for this? I also remember being at my godmother’s house for a family party. I was playing this tape and one of the other kids, an older one by a few years, was making fun of me for listening to Wrestlemania: The Album. He kind of burst my bubble, brought a touch of cynicism to my ears, and I started to realize the album was indeed crap.

So, 18 years later, here I am telling you about this crap, song by song.

1. “Wrestlemania”: It’s the familiar instrumental which would be the theme song to the Wrestlemania PPVs from 1994 to 1998 and eventually be Linda McMahon’s theme. But on top of that, in this version, you have some of the WWF superstars doing their schtick, a little bit of Mean Gene Okerlund, a chorus of “Oh, Oh…Wrestlemania…trying to survive” and a little bit of rap. It’s ridiculous but not as offensive as the rest of the album is.

2. “Summer Slam Jam” is basically the same as the opener, but with an instrumental I’m not so familiar with.

3. “U.S.A” by “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan is the first superstar inspired song of the album.



Who doesn’t like a dance mix with Jim Duggan talking about his 2×4, the American flag with the catchy chorus of “USA, UuuuUSA, USA…Hoooo!” My favorite line, “Hacksaw Jim Duggan beats people up!”

4. “Nasty Boys Stomp”: You’ve heard of the ‘Super Bowl Shuffle” which has nothing on this classic.



It has a Janet Jackson-esque “Nasty” as the chorus with random lines about “93 being the year of the Nasty” and Bobby Heenan saying, “The Nasty Boys are just plain nasty.” Yup…just plain nasty.

5. “Never Been A Right Time To Say Goodbye” by Bret “Hitman” Hart. Okay, this is when it really starts to hit the fan. While the Jim Duggan and Nasty Boys songs were basically just songs mixed with some promos and commentary used on WWF TV shows, this song is Bret Hart sing…well, not singing, but just voicing the words to the song over cheesy background singers.



Here’s an example of Bret’s powerful message…

“And I know lies would only hurt her. And I could never see her that way. Either way she’ll end up crying. I’ll just walk away and let her love again. But anyway, our love’s dying. There’s never been a right time to say goodbye.”

So, yes, an attempt at an actual love song with the then WWF champ. This is when I should have said goodbye to the album, but we move on.

6. “The Man in Black” by The Undertaker. Starts with a guitar riff, then The Undertaker says he has a tombstone for you, tells you to “Rest in Peace” and says he’s the most powerful “entity in the World Wrestling Federation.”



The deadman continues to speak all over a typical early 90s beat that could have been heard in such films as “White Men Can’t Jump” Not awkward at all.

7. “Speaking From The Heart” by “Macho Man” Randy Savage

“The tower of power, too sweet to be sour, funky like a monkey….Oooh yeahh!” Ladies and gentlemen that opening line was the beginning of this song and Randy Savage’s eventual post-wrestling rap career he would get into about a decade later.



“Gets your heart pumping, gets the party jumping, he’s the Macho Man. Everybody singing, he’s really quite amazing, he’s the Macho Man.”

8. “Tatanka Native American” by Tatanka

I think this is one of the songs I usually tried to skip on the cassette. (Remember the task of trying to skip through a cassette?) Tatanka thanks spirits and his Native American people and constantly says “in the World Wrestling Federation”

9. “I’m Perfect” by Mr. Perfect

The song starts out most promising because the first 35 seconds of this 3:37 song is just Mr. Perfect’s classic theme song.



The rest is just the song remixed, with Curt Hennig talking about his perfection. Of course, the song doesn’t match Mr. Perfect’s awesome skills in the ring or in one of his great promo videos…



At this point, I’m pretty exhausted and annoyed to be listening to these songs again but there’s only one more song to go…

10. “Hard Times” by Big Boss Man

What better way to end this craptacular album. The Big Boss Man was one of my favorites. I think a big part of it was that I thought the nightstick was the coolest weapon.



A sample of one of the great lyrics…

“He carries a big stick, a ball and chain too, if you’re looking for trouble, he’ll be coming after you.”

He also reminds us all that his momma and daddy taught him to treat others like you would want to be treated. Yes, Jesus’ golden rule but entertainingly delivered by The Big Boss Man.

So there it is, Wrestlemania: The Album. Yeah, I know, and I’m very sorry for doing this to you. Look, I was young and naive and would have probably bought crap on a stick if the WWF label was on it. But it looks like the Federation learned its lesson after I did. They shifted away from releases like this one and moved towards selling albums made of wrestler theme songs starting with the 1996 release of WWF Full Metal. A much better concept that’s much easier to stomach.

Frankie’s take: I never actually listened to Wrestlemania: The Album in full in the ’90s, although I did hear a number of the songs on WWF television at the time, and I remember a few of them–the title track, “U.S.A.,” “Speaking from the Heart”–far too vividly. T.J. isn’t underselling here: this is really putrid. The one exception is probably “Hard Times,” which is merely a weaker reworking of the Big Boss Man’s existing theme song, one of the best WWF theme songs ever.

WWE, WWF, Vince McMahon, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, Brett The Hitman Hart, Macho Man Randy Savage

This actually isn’t the first time Vince McMahon tried his hand at releasing an album of wrestlers singing. After all, who can forget The Wrestling Album and its follow-up, Piledriver? Then again, Mean Gene doesn’t entirely embarrass himself covering “Tutti Frutti,” and there are enough voices singing “Land of a Thousand Dances” that it’s kind of fun as a time capsule of who was around at the time. And Piledriver captured on record the greatest musical performance ever in professional wrestling: Vince McMahon singing “Stand Back.”

Wrestlemania: The Album has none of the charm of its predecessors, and not even the kitsch value can save much of it. Whereas the earlier albums actually sounded like songs, even if the vocalists weren’t up to snuff, most of Wrestlemania’s ten tracks are just dance mixes with dialogue sprinkled in. There’s no real personality here–all of these “songs” just sound like the background music to the worst middle school basement party ever. Is that despite or because of the presence of two-thirds of British songwriting collective Stock-Aitken-Waterman, the dance-pop masterminds who made Kylie Minogue and Rick Astley internationally famous?

I’ve heard plenty of pop-culture themed novelty albums from the ’90s–Mortal Kombat and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Coming Out of Their Shells come to mind–and this is by far the most ear-splitting. If you come across a copy of this, burn it. Destroy it somehow. True horror such as this must never be allowed to re-emerge, ever.

(Apparently, Vince didn’t entirely learn his lesson–the WWE put out another album of superstars singing, WWE Originals, eleven years later. Don’t bother looking for it: Originals really, really hurts to hear.)

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