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#ThemeSongTuesday: MURRICA


Happy Fourth of July! While our American brothers and sisters celebrate Independence Day and while our country celebrates Filipino-American Friendship Day, we at the Smark Henry offices decided to focus on wrestlers who took on different versions of the American patriot gimmick. And since July 4 happens to fall on a Tuesday, then there's not better way to celebrate than to do it through their music.

Various American Patriot Characters: "Born in the U.S.A." (Bruce Springsteen)



It's easy to see why this song is a popular choice as an entrance theme. It's cheerful, it's catchy, and the hook is literally, "booooooorn in the U.S.A~!"

What's funny is that the version we hear today is just an upbeat rendition of what was originally a darker and heavier track from the Boss' 1982 album, "Nebraska." The beauty of "Born in the U.S.A." is in the fact that the optimistic tone is such a contrast to the lyrics of the song, which belie a deeply troubling story. For those who are too lazy to Google, "Born in the U.S.A." is actually the story of a Vietnam war veteran and his troubling return home from the war. Yep, it's a happy song about PTSD, not all that different from Suzanne Vega's "Luka."

Anyway, the pro wrestling legacy of "Born in the U.S.A." is much deeper than you'd realize, especially after you read about our next entry on this list.

Hulk Hogan: "Real American" (Rick Derringer)



Hulk Hogan paved the way for anybody who would ever pull off the American patriot character and went on to become arguably the most recognizable pro wrestler in history. Not bad for a guy whose offense consisted of strikes, a body slam, and a leg drop.

The one thing that could possibly rival Hogan's name and face value is that of his theme, "Real American." On his YouTube page, Grammy Award-winning producer Rick Derringer, who wrote and performed the track, says that the song wasn't originally written for Hogan. It was supposed to be a song that was just part of a soundtrack of wrestling entrance themes that the then-WWF put together.

Here's a fun fact about "Real American:" Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." was a song wrestlers often used and still do to this day. When the then-WWF had to stop using copyrighted tracks as entrance songs, they decided to commission an original song that they could use for everyone. A track was then written for the U.S. Express (Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo)—yes, Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas' uncle and father, respectively—but Windham unexpectedly quit WWF not long afterward. So, the track went to Hulk Hogan and the rest is history. Play that song anywhere and you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who won't recognize it as the Hulkster's theme music.

Interestingly enough, former U.S. President Barack Obama used "Real American" at the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner while he unveiled his U.S. birth certificate. It's something Derringer throws shade at in the comments of his own YouTube page, which makes more sense when you realize that Derringer is actually an openly vocal supporter of President Donald Trump. In fact, he's such a solid member of Team Trump that he rewrote the lyrics to "Real American" just a few weeks ago in Donald Trump's honor. Enjoy.



Jack Swagger: "Patriot" (CFO$)



Speaking of right-wing conservative folks, how about Jack Swagger? Despite being a former Money in the Bank winner and World Heavyweight Champion, Swagger was meandering about in the midcard in early 2013 when Creative decided to pair him with Zeb Colter and repackage him as a "Real American." Swagger and Colter played extreme conservatives who openly accused Alberto Del Rio of being an illegal immigrant, not unlike JBL's storyline against Eddie Guerrero in 2004. The pair even went so far as to incorporating the Gadsden flag into their gimmick, while ultimately getting the catchphrase, "We the people!" over.

Not a lot of people realize that "Patriot" was actually only the second theme that CFO$ produced and WWE used—the first one was Daniel Bryan's "Flight of the Valkyries." What's nice about this theme is that it sets the tone from the get-go. It's got an authoritative beat and is something you could easily hear at a marching band performance or in the middle of an ROTC session. Since the song doesn't have lyrics, I can't really call out CFO$' pattern of repeating verses just yet. However, one of their earlier tendencies—their use of synth instruments instead of actual horns—is pretty clear in that catchy-ass hook.

Sgt. Slaughter and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan

No article on patriotic American wrestlers will be complete without Sgt. Slaughter and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan. Even if you aren't old enough to have seen them in their primes, you most likely will have seen enough of them as WWE Legends to know what they're all about. Sgt. Slaughter is a caricature of an American soldier, while with Hacksaw, what you see is what you get. He's an American patriot who draws chants of "U-S-A!" and carries a 2x4 around with him. Things were so much simpler back then.



I'm going to lump these next two in one entry just because neither man's theme is particularly remarkable. Slaughter's, in particular, is such a generic rock theme that could just as easily be your CAW's theme in WWE 2K17


Hacksaw's theme is a bit better in that it's more upbeat and out there. In fact, it totally sounds like something you'd hear only in the 80's, which is fitting since the 80's were Hacksaw's heyday. This theme gets more brownie points than Sarge's because it incorporates Hacksaw's signature battle cry, "Hoooooo!" to kick off the theme, as well as in random spots throughout the song.

Kurt Angle: "Medal" (Jim Johnston)


You didn't think I was going to leave this out, did you?

This song is one of the best wrestling entrance themes ever. Ever.

First used by The Patriot, and then later on by Sgt. Slaughter at D-Generation X: In Your House in December 1997, we would eventually come to associate this song with RAW General Manager Kurt Angle after he began using it following his debut in November 1999.

It exudes the class, excellence, and prestige of being an Olympic athlete, let alone an Olympic gold medalist, while not reducing him to a mere special attraction. This song was written for a badass, a fighter, a warrior. And that hook. That hook. If Edge never made "You suck!" chants a thing, we could very well have grown up yelling, "Angle! Angle!" instead. Hell, you can chant any word with two syllables like, "Medal" would work.

It's the type of song you could use to kickstart your day as your alarm tone—something I can speak of from experience. Even though you normally resent your alarm tones, I never hated "Medal" because I just felt like such a winner after having this theme be the first thing I hear in the morning. Or you could use it to power you up at the gym, especially when you're trying to get through that last set of squats during leg day! Or you could just be looking for a cheap pop from your fellow wrestling fans at the office, so you'd just bust it out. For these reasons and so much more, I've always had a soft spot for "Medal." The fact that it is one of the better American patriot themes is only a bonus after all the joy it's given me over the years.

I can't wait for Kurt Angle to appear on RAW later.

Which American patriot theme song do you like the most? Happy Fourth of July!

Header photo originally by JoeJusko on DeviantArt.


*****

Stan Sy (@_StanSyis the Editor at Large of Smark Henry, and is also a radio broadcaster, events host, a freelance writer, and one of the hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He also used to be one of the hosts and writers of The Wrestling Gods on FOX. He enjoys watching WWE, NXT, Lucha Underground, and the occasional New Japan match. You can also catch him every month attempting to keep order in a fancy suit as PWR's General Manager.

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