Wresling 102: Entrances
Throughout the last 30 years in professional wrestling, no other greater evolution has taken place than in the art of the performer's entrance. Often becoming a character all their own, a wrestler's entrance gives viewers their first opportunity to familiarize themselves with a wrestler and gain insight into their background and character. Furthermore, as of late, certain wrestler entrances can become the highlight of a particular show.
Entrances have become the stuff of legend. When the toll of the bell hits, even those who are only casual fan of wrestling know that the Undertaker can't be far behind. Much like the games between innings of a ball game, entrances act as the cheerleaders for the crowd, getting us psyched for the next performance in the ring.
Wrestling is about telling a story and a wrestler's entrance is the first stop in the journey. However, what makes a good entrance? What is it about the combination of humanity, loud music and fireworks that can send 30,000 people into a frenzy? Much like constructing a story, we can break down a great entrance down into simple components.
Presence, Presentation, Atmosphere
While an entrance is standard in modern professional wrestling, certain circumstances and extraordinary performances can create an experience that both live and television viewers may never forget. As a fan, some of my favorite memories of professional wrestling are of some of the spectacular journeys to the ring.
Join us below for this special 2 part lesson in Wrestling: 102 as we examine one of my favorite activities in professional wrestling, the entrance.
What Makes a Good Entrance a Great One?
Remember those three words I listed above?
Presence, Presentation, Atmosphere.
These three traits, when combined can create a memorable experience and propel a good or even mediocre entrance into legend. A wrestler's presence is perhaps the most important factor in creating a memorable entrance. Without the performer fully buying into his or her character, an entrance is simply a person walking to the ring to house music.
Imagine mid-2000s heel Rock calmly walking to the ring, using the steps and simply standing there until his music stopped. What if Stone Cold Steve Austin waltzed to the ring without a care in the world, no signature strut. No defiance in his mannerisms as he went corner to corner, raising his fist to the crowd.
As it is in the ring, if a wrestler isn't committed to the story and the character, the entire act falls apart. If our first introduction to a character is someone who is simply phoning it in or doesn't “buy in,” to the gimmick, then neither can we.
Along with presence comes presentation, typically in the form of accompanying music or pyrotechnics. In most cases, a performer's music can tell as much of a story as the wrestler themselves. The late great Owen Hart's Nation of Domination theme introduced us to a defiant turncoat hell bent on picking a fight with a man who outclassed him in every way. Chris Jericho's combination of music and pyro alert us to the legendary hard rock superstar.
Music can make or break a superstar, perhaps even more so than a wrestler's presence. For example, Fandango, a man who is famous only because of his entrance at one point had his changed. From the popular Salsa anthem to a odd Spanish influenced song while Rosa Mendez gyrated her hips in the ring. Fandango would then rush to the ring and plant an awkward, sloppy kiss on Mendez while the audience remained silent. It was dreadful.
A dead or unresponsive crowd can lead to an atmosphere where a special or spectacular entrance simply won't work. The big fight feel of Rusev vs. John Cena for the WWE United States Championship is why Rusev's “Tank” entrance resonated so well with the audience. The moment felt correct and the larger than life entrance added to the feel
Conversely, the monumental fight feel of Sting VS HHH is why Hunter's “Terminator” entrance felt completely flat. Denigrating a once in a lifetime event with an entrance that was bought out by what was sure to be a flop movie is an example of how a special entrance can fall flat due to atmosphere.
Combine the three and you have a surefire recipe for a memorable character, preceded by a legendary entrance to the ring. Below are five examples of a spectacular, or notable entrance to the ring, each special in their own unique way. By no means is this meant to be a top ten list or an end all to the conversation, but a showcase of some of the best ways men and women have made their way to the ring.
Triple H's Shao Khan Entrance: Wrestlemania XXX
Flanked by the likes of Alexa Bliss and Sasha Banks, The King of Kings approached the ring in such a grandiose and spectacular way, up until his music hit the crowd was silent. Typically, silence is the worst sound that fan can bestow upon a wrestler, however this was clearly the sound of awe as Triple H removed his gear and approached the ring for battle.
Undertaker's Demon Entrance Wrestlemania XXVIII
While the tortured souls entrance at 29 may be a bit more popular, for my money, this is the gold standard in Undertaker entrances. Undertaker's entrances have grown beyond the need of explanation or description, however what makes this one so special is the combination of his opponent, costume and haircut. When The Undertaker finally entered the ring and removed his hood, his presence in the ring, especially with his new hairstyle spoke volumes.
Some critics have lobbed shots at the Undertaker's entrance for being too boring, or too long. However, there hasn't been a better vehicle for the delivery of a character in professional wrestling. Even from the very first blare of the pipe organ, we all knew the Undertaker was going to be something special.
Chris Jericho takes on Bray Wyatt: SummerSlam 2014
Chris Jericho has certainly received bigger ovations than the above in his illustrious career, perhaps the largest received at the previously held Night Of Champions PPV. What makes this entrance special is the return of his trademark countdown clock.
Up until SummerSlam, Jericho would enter to simply pyro and a louder version of his music. However at SummerSlam during his match against Bray Wyatt, Jericho would debut the return of his trademark countdown clock. As you can hear in the audio above, as the clock ticked to “eight,” The crowd was able to put two and two together and realize that Jericho was back and was in it for somewhat of a long haul.
Bonus: Chris Jericho Returns: Night of Champions 2015
Chris Jericho is the master of the surprise return entrance, doing so what feels like a dozen times. After a somewhat lukewarm reception during his mid-2000s return against Randy Orton, Jericho's returns have become as much a tradition in WWE as Undertaker's appearances at Wrestlemania. From the 2013 Royal Rumble, to a shoe horned return against The Miz, Jericho has still found a way to keep audiences excited when his music hits at an unexpected time.
Although there are many to choose from, his most recent return is by far my personal favorite as the crowd reaction stands as an example as to why Jericho is still, 25 years later as popular as ever. Similar to the example above, once the crowd realizes the situation the noise begins almost in unison. From the seemingly genuine shock of Michael Cole, to the roar of the audience, the electric atmosphere created a situation that for fans of Chris Jericho, won't soon be forgotten.
The Ultimate Warrior Wins Intercontinental Title: SummerSlam 1988
The Ultimate Warrior was always known for his erratic, high energy entrances. Often racing to the ring at high speed and shaking the ropes when he got there, it was difficult to not feel a certain level of energy. Although his stand in appearance during the burial of The Honky Tonk man at SummerSlam 88' is a shining example of combining the traits of a great entrance to get the crowd behind a character. As his performance in the ring would illustrate, that energy displayed during the entrance didn't seem to stop, his bizarre mannerisms continuing during the shockingly short title match.
Sheamus's Heel Entrance: Raw, June 1, 2015
This time a year ago, Sheamus stood at a crossroads in his career. His character had grown stale as a babyface and he was hardly ever seen on television in a wrestling role. Thankfully, he was reintroduced as a heel and all was right with the world again. As a fan, I've never been more interested in Sheamus as a character than any time in his long career.
Sheamus has quickly grown into one of the most interesting heels on the roster, and his excellent entrance has helped him along the way. I chose this entrance from a Raw earlier this year due to the response from the audience. The shower of boos that the audience bestows upon Sheamus not only add to the atmosphere, but they have helped set into motion a believable and tense reign of Mr. Money in the Bank, a role that given Sheamus much needed relevance in the WWE title picture.
Above are but a few examples of awesome entrances and just what makes them great. Expand your horizons and explore the realm of spectacular wrestler entrances and familiarize yourself with new characters and some forgotten friends.
Stay tuned as we continue this two-part lesson in Wrestling 102 as we continue to examine the world of wrestler entrances and what makes them great... and perhaps a few that may have missed the mark.