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Sam BrooksSeptember 24th, 2014Blog2 Comments ยป

The Hit and Miss Composing of CFO$: The State of WWE’s Entrance Themes

An Analysis of CFO$’s Entrance Themes

Gone are the days of “I Won’t Do What You Tell Me”, “If You Smell” and “Rest in Peace”, from Jim Johnston. Now are the days of “The Second Coming”, “Swiss Made” and “Beautiful Life”, from CFO$. Ever since Jim Johnston stepped up to the plate in 1985 and composed some of the greatest themes in the wrestling industry, there was always the question of; “when the time comes for Johnston to retire, who will replace him as the composer of WWE’s most memorable superstars?”

Whilst Johnston has been tied to WWE Studio’s soundtrack production, he occasionally lends his talents to composing themes for talent such as Roman Reigns, Stardust, and The Wyatt Family. Johnston clearly has a prestigious track record when it comes to composing the biggest superstars theme music, albeit the occasional dud theme, which makes it difficult for anyone to take the reins of the compositions right off the bat. So who will be the one to usher in the new era of compositions, to tie into the new “Reality Era” we find ourselves in?

It appears we now have the answer to that question; and it’s not an answer everyone is entirely content with. For around a year now, Johnston has been composing fewer themes for talent, and has been sharing those duties with the musicians known as John Alicastro and Mike Lauri, or CFO$ and Kromestatik, respectively.

Born from the WWE Music Group, Lauri is perhaps best known for composing the current theme to Monday Night Raw, “The Night”. Alicastro, on the other hand, creates a majority of the new themes you hear on WWE TV every week, including the current theme for NXT, “Roar of the Crowd”. His earliest known composition was “Patriot”, the theme for superstar Jack Swagger and the tag team The Real Americans, which made its on-screen debut at Elimination Chamber 2013, the start of Swagger’s doomed push.

Since then, Alicastro has composed themes for a variety of talent, including Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Cesaro, Wade Barrett, and a large amount of the current NXT roster. Some of these themes have been well received amongst the WWE Universe and the IWC – in particular, themes belonging to Adam Rose (Break Away), Paige (Stars in the Night), and Bad News Barrett (Rebel Son). Not to mention his extensive NXT talent compositions, such as Enzo Amore (SAWFT Is a Sin), Sami Zayn (Worlds Apart) and The Ascension (Rebellion).

However, not all of Alicastro’s compositions are quite at the level of Johnston’s themes in the past. Alicastro has composed themes such as “Swiss Made”, which seems to sound more and more like a choir of dying babies at an indie rock show with every iteration, and “The Second Coming”, which has been described as a fax machine getting gangbanged by an HP printer.

Now there’s obviously other factors to take into account here: Alicastro has probably composed countless themes for WWE talent over the past year and a half, most of those likely being remixes of his own work. It has also been known that occasional WWE talents have had input over their theme music in the past (Sami Zayn has come out in interviews saying as such, and Enzo Amore’s and Tyler Breeze’s obvious involvement in their own theme songs speak for themselves).

But when it comes to deciding which themes get to be heard on TV or not, that is down to the head of the record label; Neil Lawi. If there was ever anyone to blame for opening the flood gates for bad theme music, it’s the man pulling the lever to open the gates. And when you have the reliance on one person to produce theme music for multiple talents so frequently, it’s somewhat expected that not every theme produced is going to be comparable to the legendary compositions of Johnston’s peak in the Attitude Era, and beyond.

It harkens back to the days of WWE music in the early 2000’s. When WWE Music was starting out, they would often make compilation albums of already produced rock and punk music, which doubled as themes for certain PPVs and superstars, the most prolific of all being CM Punk (with themes from well known mainstream bands Killswitch Engage and Living Colour).

And although it may seem possible for WWE to spend some of the budget on licensing externally produced songs for talent, in light of the recent budget cuts and somewhat worrying reliance on CFO$ for producing theme music, we can only hope that stars such as Kevin Steen and Fergal Devitt don’t become a victim to the hit and miss composing of Alicastro.

So whilst there are occasional good gems in his discography, his most recent being the theme for new NXT signing Hideo Itami, Tokiwakita (Time Has Come), CFO$ is a most polarising figure in today’s WWE music composition scene. Whenever you hear of a new signing or television debut, keep in mind that the theme song they receive could either be an effective, memorable piece, or it could just as equally be another “Swiss Made”.

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