Former WWE composer Jim Johnston recently recalled a phone call with Yokozuna, in which the Hall of Famer requested his iconic theme song be changed to a more contemporary Hip Hop track.
Johnston, who worked with WWE for over three decades is responsible for some of the company’s most iconic entrance themes. The Undertaker, D-Generation X, The Rock and even Vince McMahon all have music composed by Johnston, with many of his classic creations synonymous with WWE.
During a rare recent interview with Lucha Libre Online, Jim Johnston recalled a phone call with WWE Hall of Famer Yokozuna. Jim recalls that Yokozuna, who was portraying a Japanese sumo character, wanted to change his music from his classic Oriental theme to something with more of a L.A Hip Hop feel which was popular at the time:
“I remember Yoko. He called me managed to get me on the phone and said he wanted to change his music from the Japanese wrestler stuff. I’m trapped now on the phone with the guy. ‘What do you think?’ he goes. He said: ‘Well, you know, I’d like some hip-hop’. I said: ‘Yoko, you’re a sumo wrestler. It’s what you are. You are not a hip-hop guy. But from his perspective, and I don’t mean to be mean here, but he was like: ‘But I live in LA’. So it made perfect sense to him. ‘Why couldn’t I have a hip-hop thing?’
Ultimately, Yokozuna would never get his Hip Hop enthused theme, but his music remains synonymous with his legendary portrayal of a ruthless Japanese titan, a character that is arguably one of the defining stars of the 1990’s.
During the interview, Johnston also revealed that he is not a fan of WWE’s current musical direction. Believing that music plays a crucial role in the legacy of a Superstar, Johnson explains that modern day themes are lacking in the emotion of old:
“I hate to say this, but there’s a certain satisfaction that the music (in WWE) now is so bad. Because it makes me feel better about what I did contribute. It does make me feel bad for a bunch of the wrestlers, because without good music you can’t become a big star. I don’t believe it’s possible. The music is just like a score in a movie, it’s what leads the fans’ emotions. It’s a very visceral, very deeply emotional connection. That’s always what I went for, now that’s what’s missing.”
Despite leaving WWE in 2017 after a long and illustrious tenure with the company, Johnson’s work is held in high regard by fans and is still a staple of current WWE shows.
Credit for Interview: Lucha Libre Online