Thursday, 3 October 2019

WCW Mayhem - The Music (1999) - A track-by-track review

WCW Mayhem - The Music album -  A Track-by-Track Review

Give WCW their due, when they hit on an idea they liked, they sure did milk it for all it was worth.

Don't believe me?

Just look at how much mileage they got -or at least tried to get- out of the New World Order or how many Fake Stings we got over the years.

So it shouldn't have come as much of a surprise back in 1999 when somebody decided they liked the name Mayhem so much that they decided to plaster it not only to a video game, but also an entire Pay Per View event and yes, even a tie-in CD.

OK, perhaps it was a little surprising that they even bothered to release an album.

For while the WWF had released numerous albums over the years, World Championship Wrestling had only really put out one release, 1992's Slam Jam Vol 1, an album which gave us songs about how Ricky Steamboat didn't cheat on his wife.

Sure, there was Christmas Brawl in 1996, but that was more of a promotional marketing gimmick than anything else.

Since both of those releases, the presentation of WCW had changed dramatically, and so too had the music which went along with it.

Gone was the cheese and cheeriness of early WCW themes, replaced by kick-ass, take-no-BS heavy metal and hip hop.







WCW Mayhem - Track-by-Track Review

Yes, if WCW Mayhem - The Music stands as evidence of anything (besides WCW milking every good idea dry), it's their last-ditch attempt to appeal to a mainstream audience by updating their presentation with a thoroughly modern soundtrack and bringing in major recording artists like Master P, Megadeth and others.

But don't just take my word for it.

Without further ado, here's your track-by-track review of WCW Mayhem - The Music.

1. DJ Ran - Make Some Noise (Mayhem Mega Mix)

"Ladies and gentleman this is David Penzer, get ready for the Mayhem of World Championship Wrestling!"



You remember DJ Ran, right?

He used to get all up in your area every Monday night on TNT. Here, he kicks off the album with a special Mayhem Mega Mix which is supposed to replicate the way Ran would get the live crowd pumped up at the beginning of Nitro.

In that sense, this works. 

Ran yelling at us to MAKE SOME NOISE, coupled with a greeting from WCW announcer David Penzer really does serve as a great start to the album. Honestly, it's about as close as you're going to get to capturing the atmosphere of a big-time late-90s pro wrestling show on a music CD.

While Ran spins his tunes, WCW's biggest stars are given an opportunity to speak.

Most of them take that opportunity to put themselves over.

Big Sexy tells us he's in the house. Big Poppa Pump tells us he's our hook up. Buff tells us he's the stuff.

But Macho Man Randy Savage

He decides not to put himself over, instead taking his one spot on the opening track to instead put Hulk Hogan over.

"You know something brother?" he asks. "Hogan is the man."

This probably wouldn't be so bad if the two were still nWo team mates, or even still portrayed as friends on screen, but by 1999 the two had almost nothing to do with each other in the storylines which just makes Savage's line a little odd.

Funny, definitely, but odd.

2. Purity - Adrenaline V.1 

"Adrenaline.."



If neither the artist nor title of this track are familiar to you, don't worry; you'll instantly recognise it the moment you press play.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, twenty years after the fact, your writer has only just discovered that the theme tune for WCW Nitro was actually a song called Adrenaline V.1 by a London-based, all-female electronica outfit called Purity.

Want to hear the full version of the track?

Here you go.



Rather than just give us that straight-up banger for three-minutes, WCW Mayhem simply gives us the standard thirty-second WCW Nitro intro with Tony Schiavone welcoming us to 'the one and only Monday Nitro.'

Schiavone is his usual hyperbolic self here, bigging up the show -or in this case, the album- as some huge spectacular. 

Sadly, he stops short of calling Mayhem 'the greatest album in the history of our sport,' or anything like that.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Purity are still very much doing their thing, with main songwriter Jill Stark composing a lot of stuff for films and games. 

3. Insane Clown Posse - Take It 

"Everything is up to him // It's all out, you have to take it"


I could be wrong on this (please correct me if I am), but I'm pretty sure Insane Clown Posse have the unique distinction of being the only musical performers not named Jimmy Hart to appear on both WCW and WWF music albums.

Their time with The Oddities in the World Wrestling Federation led to their theme 'Oddities' appearing on WWF The Music Vol. 3. Now, they were here on WCW's album with their kick-you-in the-nuts, nu-metal-style monster, Take It, a track that served as Vampiro's theme during his time with The Dead Pool

I've never been the biggest ICP fan ever, but even I have to admit that this angry noisefest is a pretty decent track, albeit one that is definitely of its time.

This very much sounds like the kind of stuff you'd hear if you hung out in the metal/alt crowds back at the turn of the Millenium, and is absolutely befitting the chaotic, violent world of professional wrestling. 

4. Slayer - Here Comes The Pain 

"I am the new hell on earth // The lord of agony divine // Domination, intimidation // Lives within these eyes"


Oh yeah, now we're talking.

To be honest, I've no idea how Slayer ended up on a professional wrestling album. As far as I know, neither they, nor this absolute bruiser of a track, ever ended up on WCW programming, but hey, it's f'n Slayer, so it's always going to be good stuff.

OK, so Here Comes the Pain isn't the best Slayer song in the world (that's South of Heaven, obviously), but it's still a solid, battering metal track full of snarling aggression and brutality.

Though it may seem out of place at first, this track does perfectly encapsulate the driving energy that WCW Mayhem was supposed to be all about. In that sense, it is actually a pretty perfect fit, even if it might have been even more perfect as the soundtrack to the WWF game Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain.


5. Invasion (Goldberg Theme)

"How about that ladies and gentlemen? GOLDBERG - and this crowd is on their feet!"


And so we reach the first truly recognisable song on the album.

Even if you'd never heard of Slayer, ICP, or DJ Ran, there's no wrestling fan on Earth who hasn't heard of Goldberg and wouldn't be familiar with this iconic theme music.

Sounding like the kind of dramatic fanfare that would play as  Roman gladiator made his way into battle, this short-but-memorable theme was a big part in creating the main event aura around Bill Goldberg and, dare I say it, had a big part in his success.

After all, nobody would argue that Big Bill's legendary status had much -if anything- to do with his in-ring prowess. It was all about the presentation, and this bold, powerful theme was a big part of that.

Fun fact, before Invasion became synonymous with Goldberg, it was used for a spell in the mid 90s by Pat Tanaka.


See?

6. Megadeth - Crush 'Em 

"Now we've found you (crush), we're gonna pound you / We're gonna beat you (crush), gonna defeat you / We're gonna bust you (crush), we're gonna crush you / We're gonna (crush 'em) crush 'em"


While we all remember Invasion as the classic Bill Goldberg theme, there was a time in the summer of 1999 when he used Megadeth's sporting anthem Crush 'Em to accompany him to the ring.

OK, so the song is almost universally derided by die-hard Megadeth fans, but there's no denying that this is a great track to get the blood pumping.

Yes, the lyrics are cheesy and yes, it lacks the scathing guitars of Peace Sells... or the snarl of Sweating Bullets, but we're not  here to dissect heavy metal, we're here to talk about wrestling music and as such things go, Crush 'Em is a solid effort.

It's just a shame they gave it to Goldberg.

Had they kept this as the soundtrack to video montages or even for a PPV opener, it could have worked well. As it was, they tried to fix something that wasn't broken by having Goldberg walk out to this and it just didn't work.

No wonder very few people have fond memories of this song.

7. What Up Mach (Macho Man Randy Savage Theme)

"What up Mach? OOOOHHHH YEAH!"


Speaking of wrestlers with iconic themes, Macho Man Randy Savage is so synonymous with Sir Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No.1 that even when people hear that piece in a non-wrestling context they can't help but yell out OHHHH YEAH!

When Savage returned for a brief and largely terrible run in 1999, however, World Championship Wrestling decided to give him a thoroughly modern makeover and have him come out to a gutsy heavy metal riff which sounds a bit like a thrash metal band upping the tempo on a cover of  Metallica's Bad Seed.

We'll have more from Metallica later on, but for now I'll just say that although few will ever equate Macho Madness with this track (which features his valet, Gorgeous George asking What up, Mach?), it's still an enjoyable piece of metal riffery perfectly in keeping with the edgy, aggressive attitude WCW were going for at the time.

8. Kid Rock - Blast 

"Kid Rock back in this *** house // Feel the effects of my shotgun blast // Mothers crying from theses shotgun blast // Feel the effects of my shotgun blast // People dying from theses shotgun blasts"


Kid Rock fans might know this song better by its full title, Shotgun Blast, the 13th track from his 1996 album, Early Morning Stoned Pimp.

Apparently, as edgy as WCW were trying to get in 1999, they still couldn't include the word shotgun, nor could they include the multiple instances of the F-Word which feature in Kid Rock's original track. 

That aside this is one of those tracks which, like the earlier Slayer anthem, doesn't seem to have any direct link to the world of pro wrestling. 

If you're already a Kid Rock fan, then there's no doubt you'll enjoy this one, but honestly, it's probably the weakest track on the album so far. 

Not bad, but a little meh.

9. Self High-Five (Diamond Dallas Page Theme)

"Ya love me, ya hate me, you'll never forget me. Get ready to feel the BANG"


So far, this is the second album to feature obvious Smells Like Teen Spirit knock-off, Self High-Five.

The track originally appeared three years earlier on the Christmas Brawl album, where I referred to it as "hard, edgy, and full of energy."

I stand by that statement today, partly because it's true, but mostly because I can't think of anything to say about DDP's theme that hasn't already been said before.

Indeed, it's one of the most iconic WCW themes and is still fun to listen to, especially at a time when WWE Network have dubbed over it with their own, less thrilling version.

10. Primer 55 - Loose

"Here I come with the new style kicking // Just can't help it 'cause it's so damn wicked // Insane in the brain with a mind like Cujo // Ya better run 'cause I'm about to get loco // Feelin' this way is an everyday thing // See ya talkin' shit, but you don't know me"


Nu-metal really hasn't aged all that well, has it?

Sure, some bands from that period in musical history have evolved and gone on to do good things but this, this is very much a product of its time.

Whether that's a good thing or not is really up to you.

If you're all about baggy jeans, down-tuned guitars and mixing basic rapping with angry screaming, this is the jam for you.

Interestingly enough, Loose was the WCW theme song of a tag team called Air Raid who competed in the cruiserweight division during the dying days of the company's existence and who featured a young man known as Air Styles, better known to you and me as former WWE Champion, The Phenomenal AJ Styles.

11. 'Sting Theme' 

"Riddle me this, riddle me that, who's afraid of the big, black bat?"




Was there any cooler character in the Monday Night Wars than the re-invented Steve Borden? Ditching the colorful face paints in favor of a look directly inspired by The Crow, the WCW icon was genuinely one of the most intriguing, compelling stars at the time, at least until the debacle that was Starrcade 1997 ruined most of his mystique. 

Sting's Crow Theme was perfectly suited to his character during this time period, and remains one of your writer's all-time favourite WCW themes. 

Stil, by the time 1999 came around, the Sting character had gone through enough of a transformation that this gem of a track was no longer really suited to him.

So it's probably just as well that they swapped it for our next track.

12. Metallica - Seek & Destroy (Live at Woodstock '99)

"Scanning the scene in the city tonight // Looking for you to start up a fight // There's an evil feeling in our brains // but it's nothing new, you know it drives us insane."


As the biggest Metallica fan in the world, I loved seeing Sting coming to the ring to the sound of this scathing thrash metal anthem from the band's 1983 debut, Kill 'Em All, even if I was never entirely convinced that it suited him.

The longest track on the album by a good few minutes, this comes directly from the band's appearance at the infamous Woodstock 1999 festival

Though it might not be the greatest rendition of this classic track, it's still Metallica tearing up like only they can in a track that is undoubtedly a highlight of the album.

13. Buff Daddy (Buff Bagwell) 

"Buff....Dadd-Ay!"



We've had the ferocious riffs of old-school metal, we've had the swagger and hostility of hip-hop and we've had the aggression of late-90s nu-metal.

What better way to follow all of that than with, erm, Buff Bagwell gleefully shouting about how sexy he is as a chorus of back-up singers croon "Buff, he's the stuff."

To be honest, I always found Bagwell's post-nWo theme to be pretty hilarious, but it seems a little out of place coming between Metallica and Limp Bizkit.

Still, if you can ignore that, Buff Daddy is plenty of fun in a cheesy, over-the-top kind of way.

14. Limp Bizkit (Ft. Everlast) - Faith (Remix)

"Baby, I know you're askin' me to stay // Say please, please, please don't go away // 'Cause you're givin' me the blues"



Remember when Limp Bizkit were one of the hottest bands in the world?

Every angry teenager you met walked around sporting a backward red baseball cap and baggy jeans while telling you that they wanted to break stuff.

It was a weird time, but it does explain why Fred Durst et al ended up on this WCW music album with what is a pretty lackluster version of their famous George Michael cover.

Gone is the outright brutal chaos of the original track from their abrasive 1997 debut, Three Dollar Bill Y'All.

In its place is a chilled out hip-hop track which, though it may have its fans, does nothing for this writer.

Still Limp Bizkit were still one of the most popular bands around at the time, so it makes sense to include them in here as an incentive for non-WCW fans to buy the album.

15. American Made (Hulk Hogan's Theme)

"He's got the red, white, and blue running through his veins // He was born and raised in the U.S. of A // He's government inspected, he's U.S. grade // If you mess with the flag it's like a slap in his face."



This is the second time this year that I've reviewed this track. If you recall, it features as one of the stand-out songs on Hulk Rules, a 1995 album by Hulk Hogan and The Wrestling Boot Bandthat somehow manages to be awesome, awful, weird, and hillarious all at the same time.

In that review, I wrote:

The song was clearly meant to be an updated take on his famous WWF theme, Real American. Though it's nowhere near as iconic as that Rick Derringer-penned track, I'd argue that it's the better of the two in terms of pure rock-out fun.

I stand by that today, partly because it's still very much true, but mostly becuase I feel like this album has been playing for the last thousand years.

16. Lyrical Giants - Bone Crusher 

I honestly can't make out a single lyric in this track...I'm sorry.



As you've probably figured out by now, this WCW Mayhem - The Music review is written by someone who listens to way more rock music than rap.

In fact, I'll go so far as to confessing that I'm woefully ignorant about hip-hop to such an extreme that all I can think of when I hear this is "Hey, it sounds like that DMX track that was big around the turn of the Millenium."

That's not a criticism by the way. 

As hip-hop tracks go, this is a pretty good one, with an upbeat vibe to it that I imagine makes it great for clubs and parties and the like.

Who knows, maybe they played this jam at those Nitro Parties they had?

17. Got Him in the Corner 

"He's got him in the corner and here we go...Oooh! That's gotta hurt!" 

I won't put a video here, this is basically a clip of Tony Schiavone calling a 'ten punches in the corner spot.'

It's not really anything, but I promised you a track-by-track review, so dagnammit, we'll include one here.

18. Ruff Ryders featuring Drag-On, Jadakiss, Eve, Styles - Pay Per View 

"I'm a total savage // Like Lex Luger, you'll get the total package // Straight power bomb like Kevin Nash and Sid Vicious // Small like Rey Misterio put y'all in big ditches"


In case you hadn't figured it out, we're well into the hip-hop section of the album now, with rappers Drag-On, Jadakiss, Eve, and Styles tell us how bad ass they are by liking themselves to various WCW stars.

Jadakiss, for example, boasts about how he's like Sting, you know, all black with a bat, before Eve strangely boasts that "I'm feared like Miss Elizabeth."

Now, God Bless Miss Elizabeth and, apart from in our review of her botched performance at the WCW Mayhem 1999 PPV, you'll find nary a bad word said against her at Retro Pro Wrestling, but I'm not sure too many people actually feared her.

Still, this is a pretty fun, catchy tune, even if it's one I doubt many people are even aware of.

19. Big Pun & Fat Joe - Make the Crowd Roar 

"I'm like Hollywood without the Hogan // I'm like Konnan without the slogan"



If you haven't yet had enough of rappers likening themselves to pro wrestlers, Fat Joe and the late Big Pun have got some more for you here, with Mr. Pun himself telling us that he's going to "make shit messy like Kevin Nash."

Because if there was one thing Big Sexy was known for, it was being untidy. 

I joke, but there's seriously a part of this song that rubs me the wrong way. 

At one point in the original, uncensored version of this song, Big Pun raps:

"Just remember to roll with God
And try not to kill yourself, like Owen Hart.
No disrespect, I know you miss him, Bret." 

I mean seriously. 

OK, I'm probably being a little too sensitive, especially since somebody was clearly smart enough to censor Owen's name out of this version of the song, but still. This album was released about six months after Hart passed away, and yet here we are.

Is it just me or is that pretty bad? Especially given that Hart didn't actually kill himself.

Rant over, let's move on.

20. Kevin Nash - Wolfpac Theme 

"Wolfpac is back, causin mass destruction, guess who's here, the bad boys of wrestling." 


Another one of the more memorable WCW themes, here we have the track that was used for the nWo Wolfpac and for Kevin Nash as a singles wrestler.

Back then, I always thought this was one of the cooler tracks WCW had at the time. It's got a certain swagger and yet is also pretty dark, making it a perfect fit for a guy who was cool, cocky and yet could straight up kick your ass.

21. Cypress Hill - Fist Full 

"Put you to the ground, chokeslam on your back while I'm chillin' with Nash and the honeys, Wolfpac style." 


These rappers sure did love them some Big Sexy, even if the dude was a bit messy.

To be fair, this is a pretty bad ass track. It's exactly the sort of thing you can imagine WCW using as the soundtrack to a highlights package, or as background music for the WCW Mayhem video game. 

Like others before them, the Cypress Hill boys basically brag about how they're going to kick your ass like professional wrestlers, but they do it with an energy and aggression that the likes of Big Fun and Jadakiss lacked.

All in all, this is one of the better songs on the album.

22. Count That Man Out 

"One, two, three...Count that man out!"

No video here, this is just another Tony Schiavone soundbite. This time, the current AEW commentator calls the action as somebody gets pinned.

23. Screwball - Give it Up 

"War you want, war you get." 



I can't seem to find much information about this track, but if you enjoy listening to rappers bragging about how bad ass they are, then you're in luck here.

Honestly, I feel like I've been writing this review forever, I'm getting tired, and as much as some people might like this song, it does very little to change my energy.

Decent, but entirely forgettable. 

24. Konnan featuring Madd One - Bow Wow Wow 

"Bow-wow-wow, yippie-yo, yippie-yay // Arriba la raza, all day, every day"


Of course, you can't have a hip hop section of a WCW album without an appearance by K-Dogg himself. If you were watching at the time, you probably remember this one.

Konnan had debuted in WCW wearing a mask as the 'Mexican Champion,' turned heel to join the Dungeon of Doom and then randomly morphed into a gangsta during his time with the nWo, then released this music video for his team with former opponent, Rey Mysterio Jr. 

Konnan was incredibly popular around this time, so obviously WCW decided that the best thing to do with his video was to use it as the basis for a feud with Disco Inferno.

That aside, this is actually a really good track, not quite as good as the other one he did for The Filthy Animals, but still damn enjoyable all the same.

That's despite the fact that it starts with a soundbite of K-Dog inviting the listener to toss his salad. I mean seriously, Konnan did a bit on the mic before every match, he said all kinds of things over the years, yet out of all the clips they could have picked, the producers of this album went with him talking about someone sticking their tongue up his bum. 

25. West Texas Rednecks - I Hate Rap 

"There's only one thing that I hate, cos it's a bunch of crap, I hate rap!"


If you didn't remember K-Dog's theme, you'll certainly remember this one.

WCW positioned Curt Hennig and his chums as the heels, but the crowd decided that they loved the West Texas Rednecks more than they the gang's rivals, Master P. and the No Limit Soldiers.

Of course, it didn't help that they also gave the Rednecks one of the most entertaining songs to ever come from a pro wrestling country.

Naturally, you have to overlook the fact that  Hennig, Bobby Duncam Jr. and the Windham brothers were now suddenly talented musicians capable of writing and performing a hit country song, but that aside, the whole Rap is Crap thing was a fun time in WCW and was a rare highlight of their programming at a time when so much of the company's output sucked a large one.

26. Loona - Bailando

"Bailando, Bailando, my friends, let's go!"



If the CD had ended with Rap is Crap it would have been perfect. Instead, we got this latin-infused dance number that was apparently used for some of the Nitro Girls dance routines. 

Bailando was a hit for Paradiso in Europe, who reached number one on the charts in Denmark and broke the top ten in a few other countires. A few years later, Dutch artist Loona took her cover of the track to the top of the German charts.

This version closely resembles Loona's version, albeit with English lyrics sung by Stephanie Marano and some dude randomly shouting out NITRO GIRLS! BODY SLAM!

It's a decent song, but it feels kind of tacked on and out of place here.

Not that I'm complaining, at this point, I'm just glad it's over.







If you're wondering how exactly WCW Mayhem - The Music managed to cram a whole 26 songs into one album, it's because a large number of  those songs last barely a minute. While tracks by actual artists are featured in full, the wrestling themes are cut as short as possible.

Despite this, WCW Mayhem still feels like it takes an eternity to listen to and would have been just as good with half of the tracks missing.

Still, as a big rock and metal fan, I won't deny that it's great to find an album which combines my love of pro wrestling with some kick ass tunes by Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth. 

If you want to get a copy of this album for yourself and support this blog at the same time, you can buy WCW Mayhem from Amazon.com and we get a tiny percentage of the profits as a referral fee.

Otherwise, thanks for sticking with this review all the way to the end. If you're looking for more pro wrestling album reviews, here's a few more for you:

Don't miss our other Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following @Retropwrestling on Twitter or liking the Facebook page

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Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.