At his Arcade Songs, a label venture with RED/Sony, Gregg Wattenberg is known as the hitmaker behind tracks like Kygo’s “Raging” and Shawn Hook’s “Sound of Your Heart,” a Dance Club Songs No. 1. But on the side, he’s quickly becoming a go-to for a different kind of hit — bone-crushing themes for WWE wrestlers.
The partnership began with Wattenberg’s former Wind-Up label, which previously licensed many rock songs to WWE. Since 2012, Arcade Songs writes much of the league’s music, as well as the theme for E!’s WWE reality series, Total Divas, which returns this fall. “We’re a well-oiled machine,” says Wattenberg, who, wrestling aside, is currently in the studio with Jason Mraz, Grace VanderWaal and Chord Overstreet.
And though Wattenberg says his “two worlds” of music rarely cross, the formula for putting together the perfect wrestling theme can be just as scientific as crafting a pop hit. Below, Wattenberg breaks down how he gives wrestling music its muscle in four steps.
STEP 1: FIND THE FIT
Wattenberg, who has crafted music for A.J. Styles, Bobby Rude and others, needs to understand a character to create a theme. The wrestlers “have to be instantly identifiable” by their songs, he says. This is especially true of newer wrestlers, who often go through several “characters” before finding a good fit.
“They have a very clear vision — this should be more emo, this should be more goth, this should be hard-hitting riff rock,” Wattenberg adds. “It’s kind of like hit songwriting but for wrestler themes.”
STEP 2: AMPLIFY A HOOK
Whether a rock track or a pop theme like Sasha Banks’, Wattenberg says that “the chorus has to come quickly” in a song — and if it’s too slow, it’s a no-go. “The song has to be in a certain tempo range,” he says.
But Wattenberg warns against over-calculation, noting that sometimes, it’s the unexpected sounds that are the most inspiring. He points to the popular theme song for Japanese…