WWE music has had its peaks and valleys over the years. Whatever heights it may reach in the future though, it’s hard to imagine we’ll ever get a run of more iconic themes that the ones Jim Johnston put together during the Attitude Era.
Johnston, who left the company in 2017 after more than 30 years in Vince McMahon’s employ, recently chatted with Vice about several of his most famous compositions. Among them was the one he wrote for his boss, “No Chance In Hell”.
The backstory behind the song says a lot about Vince, but Johnston says there was more to their relationship than what he was thinking when he put the finishing touches on the track:
“When I was writing Vince’s No ‘Chance In Hell’ entrance theme, I had been really upset with him about something at work. I found myself thinking: ‘You’ve got no chance against this guy!’ He’s got the power, the money, and in terms of pro-wrestling, he was pretty much the only game in town. I had written the guitar groove much earlier, and I found myself singing ‘No Chance…No Chance’ over that groove. Rather than a song about one man, I wanted it to be about ’The Man’.
The song is about the work system that imprisons us all. It’s got a thrust of someone who’s kind of like marching like they’re the kind of ‘big I am’. What I loved about Vince was how he liked to be surprised. He let me take risks and if I surprised him with something and it was good then he would be delighted. But if it wasn’t good then boy he would tell you about it! I will always class him as a friend. We were creating something entirely new as the business Vince had bought from his dad didn’t have any music for the wrestlers. Our work together radically changed things and made it so much more theatrical. I’ll always be proud of that.”
Vice’s whole piece is worth a read. Each of the songs Johnston discusses (in addition to McMahon’s theme, he also talks about what he wrote for Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, D-Generation X, and The Rock) reveal a bit about how he and Vince were changing the business via its presentation of wrestlers.
Check it out here.