Ask any wrestling fan what their favorite music in the wrestling world is, and they’ll likely list entry themes over the years (although some recent offerings have been pretty dire). They are less likely to list songs performed by the wrestlers themselves. While there are many professional wrestlers who have also had musical careers alongside their in-ring activities, there is nothing quite like the 2004 album, WWE Originals. The principle is quite simple – the WWE produced some iconic wrestling themes with Jim Johnston leading their music department, so why not give him a group of wrestlers to record an album with?
WWE Originals is this exact idea “strange on paper, even stranger in execution”. With the era of ruthless aggression in full swing and one of the most stacked rosters in wrestling history, there was no shortage of popular stars to set one of the most bizarre records in existence. Over fifteen years later, listening to it is a very strange experience, and even stranger, some of which are actually quite enjoyable.
The album has real musical talent
The first stop in deciding which wrestlers to make an album with is to see if any of them have a musical talent to start with. Thankfully, WWE got lucky here with a few picks to choose from. In a somewhat uninspired choice, WWE just put John Cena’s “Basic Thuganomics” theme on Originals rather than making him record something new. Despite that, it’s probably the best-done song on the album anyway.
Apart from that, WWE enlisted others with musical backgrounds to perform newly written songs. Chris Jericho had released two albums by this point, and his song ‘Don’t You Wish You Were Me?’ looks like he could sit comfortably on any Fozzy album. Another experienced musician comes in the form of Lita, who before wrestling had been in punk rock bands. “When I Get You Alone” has a similar vibe to Avril Lavigne’s or a No Doubt song, and listening totally without any context, it wouldn’t be hard to believe the song was by a real pop-punk band from the early 2000s.
But, by far the best vocal performance of the whole album comes from Lillian Garcia. While she might not have the power of the wrestling star like others on Originals, she is certainly much more talented musically, having regularly performed the American national anthem at several WrestleMania. Garcia’s track “You Just Don’t Know Me At All” is very reminiscent of Evanescence with its classically trained vocals on riffy metal, making it perhaps the best original on this. Originals album.
There are newbie hits and misses on ‘Originals’
The rest of the album’s musical offering is made up of wrestlers with virtually no musical experience, and it shows. They’re not all terribly terrible, but the performance of this band is little better than “very good”. A wise move on Jim Johnston’s part was to delegate these less experienced stars to rap songs, letting the wrestlers get their lyrics out in a more spoken way than trying to sing along.
Dudley Boyz, Los Guerreros, and Rey Mysterio all try their hand at rap, and none of it really sticks to the landing. Of all the rap songs on Originals, “Can you dig it?” By Booker T has the most personality. He might not be the best rapper in the world, but Booker T definitely delivers his lines much better than the rest. Globally, Originals proves that professional wrestling should definitely leave rap to rappers.
Elsewhere in the women’s division, Trish Stratus appears for a pretty forgettable love song, âI Just Want Youâ. Trish’s vocals are pretty decent, but the track definitely sounds like it could play over the credits of a romantic comedy of the day – nothing to write home about. “Why can’t we just dance? Stacy Keibler’s really pretty awful, the majority of the lyrics being just the title repeated over and over again over a squeaky dance floor.
Then there’s Rikishi’s really confusing âPut A Little Ass On Itâ. In a slower, soulful song, Rikishi and his backing vocalists implore the audience that when the going gets tough, all they have to do is “put some ass on it.” What does this mean exactly, Originals do not say. Rikishi does surprisingly well here, but the heavy lifting is definitely done by the backing vocals, singing emotionally about getting the ass on things.
Kurt Angle and Stone Cold Steve Austin’s ‘Originals’ has comedy gold
Two things shine in Originals. One is Kurt Angle’s willfully bad “I Don’t Suck (Really)”, bringing in all the musical talent from his “Sexy Kurt” and “Jimmy Crack Corn” performances. The song perfectly captures the character of Angle, a man who is clearly bored by fans and only embarrassed himself more with this track. As a remix of her theme song, her rusty performance goes perfectly with some truly absurd lyrics;
âAnything you can do, I can do better.
Even when I rap, I rap even better.
Like this body when it’s wrapped in leather.
Perfection, and it doesn’t get better.
It really is the nicest bit here.
Throughout the album, there is a series of skits performed by âStone Coldâ Steve Austin one hundred percent in character, with him going back and forth with Jim Johnston on what his song will be. Across five segments, Austin is in his comedic element, tapping into the paranoid heel character of the Invasion Era that bounced off Angle and Vince McMahon so well. His antagonistic back-and-forth with Johnston is a hidden gem in Austin’s comedic CV and worth listening to. Originals alone.
Several wrestlers have used musical gadgets in an attempt to recover. Some musical gimmicks have been very successful while others not at all!
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