Welcome to the first installment of Chair Shot! Every month, I’ll be connecting the dots between the two noblest arts: pro wrestling and underground music. Seriously, they have way more in common than you might think. In this inaugural edition, I had a chance to trade emails with Rick Jimenez of Long Island thrasmasters Extinction A.D. (XAD). Not only is Rick is a certified shredder, he’s a lifelong wrestling fan, and XAD just released a cover of WWE superstar Becky Lynch’s entrance theme just in time for Wrestlemania. Read on for his thoughts about the road to Wrestlemania and what it takes to make a good wrestling theme song.
Over the past few years, it seems like hardcore/punk and pro wrestling have really been having a bit of a moment together—there are tons of wrestling zines, more and more bands making songs about wrestling and wrestlers with straight edge tattoos popping up everywhere. What do you think it is that makes these two worlds cross over?
I think whats linked the two more recently is the “just out of the norm” elements they share. Wrestling is HUGE but its also kind of strange if you don’t get it. With there being a lot of indie promotions right now, and while certain types of heavy music are being heard on huge forums now and not JUST in small rooms anymore, but its still very “what the fuck is this?” if you don’t get it. I used to bring up to people all the time that wrestling and underground music were very similar with the lifestyle and the “from the ground up” element. I think it’s interesting how wrestling goes in and out of the mainstream and so does hardcore and hardcore genre offshoots. In the ’80s and through the ’90s, metal/punk/hardcore had the total DIY ethic and ass busting attitude that was very akin to wrestling in the territories. Driving your band’s shitty van or packing 4 wrestlers in a rental car and driving 300 miles to play a show/wrestle a show to 10 or 100 or 200 people and hope to make enough money to eat and then do it again the next day for the love or the art. If notoriety follows and you can make your art and passion your life and pay the bills, all the better. That seems to be way more attainable now for both wrestling and heavy music than it was even a handful of years ago.
Your cover of Becky Lynch’s entrance theme is great! It’s been awesome to see the progression of her character over the past few months. What do you think of the build to Wrestlemania and her connection with wrestling fans?
So, I’m a bit torn with this subject. I think they had something special initially with the resurgence of Becky and the groundswell of support she got late last year, but in my opinion, the booking became flawed. I really liked that WWE recognized people were getting behind her and went with it instead of ignoring it or squashing her, but the actual route they took, I think made her look weaker than before, even though the crowd ignores it for some reason. The Royal Rumble loss to Asuka, the last minute RR match addition and almost heel-style victory, the milked knee injury, the McMahon angle, Charlotte taking her place then she has to beat Charlotte to get into the ‘mania match but wins by DQ… in my eyes, Becky looks weak as hell and character-wise doesn’t deserve to be in the match. Now that being said, I believe that the match is right and it’s a good OVERALL story, just not as good as it should have been and not exactly how I would have booked it. I believe it’s lost its urgency. I was geared up for an Austin-like ascent (and believe it was naturally there) but then it became just another RAW angle. Once a video package is put together of her journey, it’ll kind of retcon the iffy booking path they chose.
And of course, Rebecca Quinn the person and performer deserves to be there. I just don’t subscribe to the modern theory of “everyone is 50/50 win loss record” and I absolutely don’t subscribe to wrestlers wrestling each other one on one consistently before major blow offs or making anyone ever look weak without cause leading up to a big show. I don’t believe Becky, Charlotte or Ronda should have had as much physical contact after the rumble unless it was contract signings, a brawl breaking out pre- or post-match with other competitors, a promo turned fist fight etc. There were a few moments I loved like the beatings with the crutch and such. I do like it, don’t get me wrong, I just think Becky could have been an even bigger star going into ‘Mania. I was obviously psyched enough on the whole deal that I forced the other dudes to learn the song. That being said, Charlotte is my favorite current wrestler. That’s funny, huh?
Did you discover any music through wrestling? I’m pretty sure I first became aware of The Misfits when they started hanging out with Vampiro in WCW in the late ‘90s and ECW’s blatant disregard for copyright law got me into Pantera.
Man, I LOVED ECW’s use of music. The network shows just aren’t the same without the proper themes. I thought The Misfits in WCW was real fun too. I’m not sure i discovered any bands via wrestling, but I listen to entrance themes as regular music quite often so maybe that counts. 1990-1993 WCW entrance themes are fucking hidden gems. Some really cool metal tossed in there too. I may or may not have ripped off some kind of obscure parts of one or two of those songs for Extinction A.D. The work CFO$ are doing now is remarkable. It’s really cool as such a fan of entrance themes to be hearing new ones that are as iconic as ones from my childhood. Unsure if I’ll have a chance to bring it up at any other point in this interview so let me just bring up that the lyrically flub the DX band had on Wrestlemania 14 with the intro makes me insane. And as much as I think some of the best Rage Against The Machine songs ever were written by the DX band, XAD wouldn’t flub the timing of Becky’s entrance theme if we were playing her out to the ring at Metlife.
Who do you think has the best theme in wrestling right now?
This is difficult because of what I look for in a theme. I want something that’s going to get me so psyched on TV that it translates to real life and just becomes a song I need to hear while driving or thinking about mowing someone down with a car. But it is a little easier being that its limited to current product. I really love Braun Strowman’s theme. I’m not much of a fan of Rowan but his music is real cool. On the other end of the spectrum, Daniel Bryan and Charlotte’s themes are (much like them as a performers) super cool modern takes on the traditional classic entrance theme. Obviously, Becky’s theme is rad to me.
Who has the worst theme?
Ok, this is actually tougher for me because I don’t judge themes like I would regular music. A song I may despise if I heard it at the gym or in my girlfriend’s car may be completely appropriate for a character and then no longer be something that drivers me to suicide. Like Brie Bella’s “Brie Mode” for example; it’s appropriate for her and I can be excited or annoyed when it hits because of who it’s linked to, and enjoyment comes from there. Now have I ever come anywhere close to not diving for the next button when it comes on shuffle on my phone? Probably not. “Oh, Brie’s music is on now, that’s cool!” Then I’m hitting skip. If I MUST pick a current theme that kind of bums me out though, I think I’d have to pick Drew McIntyre. Reason not being because I think it sucks though, but because I think the theme he had just prior to this one was really rad and the new ones pales in comparison. It sounded like “Gemini” by Slayer with bagpipes added, which outside of wrestling seems like a fucking nightmare, but I thought it rocked.
If you could create the entrance music for any one wrestler, who would it be?
Honestly, I would love to write a new theme for Cody Rhodes. Something to attach to him as AEW begins and potentially begins a new chapter in wrestling. I think Brock could have used a new or at least updated theme for a while and I think that would be real fun. Tony Nese I think needs a more appropriate theme song. That dude’s a Long Island guy that I’ve seen for years before WWE. Really talented guy.
There is a ton of music that references wrestling, from rap songs about Ric Flair to punk rock rippers about Mick Foley and even hardcore bands fronted by pro wrestlers. Do you have a favorite song with a wrestling connection?
So the This is Hell record “Weight of the World” that we released in 2010, almost every song on that record has a double meaning. Some more obvious than others, but half of the double meanings on the songs are wrestling related. I don’t think I’ve ever recorded a record since 2006 that didn’t have at least one or two wrestling references to varying degrees. I bit so many lines from promos over the years its crazy. If Beefcake and Disco Inferno can both use the Stunner in ’90s, I can use Dusty Rhodes, Jake The Snake and Arn Aderson quotes from the ’80s in songs in the 2000s-2019.
How about a favorite wrestler with a connection to punk/metal/hardcore or music in general?
Probably Van Hammer. Nah, actually I was connected to CM Punk via mutual friends in H20. Theres no doubt in my mind that Punk was the best wrestler there was for a 5-6 year period and up near the top of the list for a lot longer than that.
We all know people who think wrestling is stupid or dismiss it immediately because it’s “fake” (duh)—if you could show them one match to change their mind, what would it be?
I’m not sure its possible to change anyone’s mind who has that point of view in 2019. Hating entertainment because “it’s so fake” is so bizarre to me when everything that’s on TV is a work from wrestling to reality TV to comedies and dramas to the fucking news and the political structure in this country. I think it’d be strange to enjoy wrestling if you thought what played out in the ring and the angles were real. That being said, if you don’t get excited while watching the TLC Wrestlemania 17 match or the Flair/Savage Wrestlemania 8 match, you’re dead and don’t like fun and are my enemy. If you can watch the Arn Anderson retirement speech or the Ric Flair 1998 return promo and not get emotional, stick to the vapid existence of the Kardashians and Instagram selfies.
What does Extinction A.D. have coming up for the rest of 2019?
We’ve been working really hard for a while on our next record. When that will be recorded and released is unknown as of yet but we’re unbelievably excited about it. We are the band that we are, but we’re trying to constantly evolve and write different records as opposed to releases being interchangeable. We’re also working on a European tour for this summer and more North American stuff for the remainder of the year. Europe has been a tough egg for us to crack so we’re HOPING to get everything sorted out and solidified so we can finally get our assess over there.
Ricky Vigil spends a lot of time thinking about punk rock and playing video games. He lives in Salt Lake City, UT, where he works with teenagers and wonders what could have been if he had followed his boyhood dream of becoming a professional wrestler. He also makes comics you can read at rickyvigil.tumblr.com