Mikey Rukus, music producer for All Elite Wrestling, took part in a Reddit AMA (‘Ask Me Anything’ over the weekend). Rukus is responsible for some of the most recognizable themes in AEW.
His credits include the opening themes for AEW Dynamite, Double or Nothing and Revolution, as well as talent such as the Inner Circle, Best Friends, Broken Matt Hardy, the Dark Order, Lucha Bros, PAC, Jake Hager, Bret Hart, Jake Roberts and many more.
Theme music is a vital component of the presentation of talent and events. Hearing the first few seconds of the music for Dynamite or Best Friends sets the mood and connects you to emotions the company and performers are looking to impart.
Here are some highlights of what Rukus said about:
Creating the theme for AEW Dynamite
Rukus explained that he was given the guideline that the Dynamite theme had to grab viewers in the first 20 seconds, then segue to ‘background’ music once the frame cuts to the live arena and pans the crowd.
“I was told that we had 20 seconds to get our point across for an opening graphic, then the shot would go to the live arena, So there needed to be the right type of tempo to say the right thing and then repeat it to drive it home within that 20 second window. The rest of the song was built around that.”
He continued, “[His band] No One Hero went into the studio and recorded it quickly, and it was mixed/produced by Bill Leverty, guitarist of the legendary rock band Firehouse.”
You can listen to the finished product here:
Creating the Inner Circle’s theme on short notice
Mikey Rukus has had a few occasions where he had to produce a piece of music on short notice. The song currently used by the Inner Circle faction is an example of this. Rukus says he received a text message from QT Marshall late one afternoon saying he needed to whip something up immediately.
“QT texts ‘Did you ever make a song for the Inner Circle’…I replied ‘You guys told me to wait lol, when do you need it by’ he said ‘Tonight haha’, mind you it was 430PM. I said holy shit.
Then I get a text that said ‘Chris wants you to tell HIM what you think the Inner Circle Theme should sound like’ so I said ‘Well the leader is a rocker, so its rock music, but with all of them coming out, the music needs to be a slower tempo, as they all walk out slowly selling their arrogance’ QT texts back and said ‘OK Chris said make it happen’ SO I sped my ass home and by 630pm I sent it over. Then QT calls and says “Chris says he wants something at the top like ‘Innnnner Cirrrrcle’ and we are good, he said its strong, its edgy, its obnoxious, its perfect’….then I fainted :D”
Wrestlers Having Input on Their Themes
Chris Jericho had input on the Inner Circle’s theme, but is that the case for everybody? Mikey Rukus said “any and all” wrestlers get the opportunity to provide input.
“Any ideas they have even after the theme is considered done, we can go back and touch up,” he said.
Rukus emphasized that many of the themes just need time to click. He compared this to buying a new pair of shoes. “It takes time for the talent to get used to it, learning their own spots on how they want to utilize it, and it takes time for the fans to get used to them.”
Longtime wrestling fans know that Jim Johnston is considered the godfather of wrestling theme music. Rukus has great admiration for him and hopes to leave a legacy that stands the test of time like Johnston’s.
“I love his work. Always have. The fans go out of their way to tell me that I will never be as good as him, and they try to force me into his shadow. I just keep doing me. Hopefully 20 years from now I hope to have left at least a fraction of the footprint that he left.
Visit Reddit.com to read more from this Q&A session with Mikey Rukus.