WWE CFO$ Music Composers Talk Their Favorite Metal Bands, How They Created Some Of Your Favorite Entrance Themes

You may not know Mike Lauri and John Alicastro (collectively known as CFO$), but if you watch any WWE broadcast, you certainly know their work. These two New York-born musical aces are responsible for most of the entrance themes you’ll hear this weekend at WWE NXT Brooklyn III and WWE Summer Slam. From top to bottom of the lists, from Shinsuke Nakamura to Bobby Roode, from Finn Balor to Aliester Black, they will be accompanied by music created by CFO$.

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While the duo have created many catchy pop, hip hop and R&B songs for wrestlers like AJ Styles, Sasha Banks and The Usos, what caught Metal Injection’s attention is the wide range of hard rock influences. rock and heavy metal heard in some of the entry songs played. on WWE’s weekly lineup. It should come as no surprise that CFOs listen to everything from Led Zeppelin to Meshuggah. I sent the duo a few questions which they were kind enough to answer about their process for creating a theme, the type of hard rock and heavy metal they listen to, and information about some of their tracks from most notable rock.

CFO$ performing Shinsuke Nakamura’s theme “The Rising Sun” with violinist Lee England Jr. all over New York

How did you land the gig with WWE?

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Mike Lauri: Well, we’ve been writing and producing music together since we were pretty young. After graduating from college, John started working as an engineer for Wind-Up Records and was working with all the bands on that label. After hours, we had the studio to ourselves, so I would usually show up at night and start doing our own thing.

John Alicastro: We were basically working on music all night every night and compiling our catalog. Eventually, we had our songs heard by the highest ranks of the label and we signed with their publishing house. Shortly after, they introduced us to Neil Lawi and the WWE team…the rest is history.

Mariachi meets speed metal.

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How many entry themes do you usually work on at the same time?

JA: Usually there are at least a few projects going on at the same time. There’s also always a chance that something will pop up last minute for live TV and we’ll have to drop everything we’re doing to get it done in time, but we’ve managed to work really well under that pressure. Sometimes a looming deadline makes it more fun to be honest.

How long does it take to complete a song from concept to execution?

ML: It’s hard to pin down. There are some themes we did that came together so naturally, almost effortlessly, while others were a real struggle. A song can take a day or two, or a month or two to complete. Most of the time our turnaround time is quite fast as we usually work to a deadline but it certainly depends.

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What is the process of writing a wrestling theme?

ML: The first thing we try to do is identify something unique that we’re going to do musically or lyrically, and then build a theme song around that. We realize that the worst thing we can do as writers is make things generic, because then no one will really care or remember, including us.

JA: We’re going to take inspiration from the person we’re writing for and try to stage in our heads what it’s going to be like when they step into the ring. We don’t know in advance exactly how their entry is going to pan out, so we’re trying to keep an eye on that, but we’re also staying focused on writing good music that can stand on its own.

ML: Once the WWE team knows where we’re going with a theme, we usually go through a more specific adaptation process to the actual entry. Speed ​​it up, slow it down, change the layout of the parts, etc. Everything you need to create a real moment for the fans.

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It compares to any power ballad from the 80s ever written.

What are your favorite entry themes that you haven’t written about?

ML: For me, it’s the songs I remember as a kid that stuck with me over the years: Undertaker, Ultimate Warrior, Kurt Angle and Jake the Snake, to name a few.

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JA: COLD STONE! Certainly some of the most iconic from my childhood like The Rock, Hulk Hogan, Mick Foley, Big Show and obviously The King of Kings HHH.

What are some of your favorite rock and metal bands?

ML: Difficult to make a definitive list because there are so many, and from totally different periods. When I was young, I loved Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath because that’s what my parents listened to. This led to 90s punk – bands like Green Day and Offspring. In high school, we were right in the middle of the nu metal scene, and there was a lot of bullshit to deal with, so I turned to stuff like Deftones, Rage Against the Machine, Nine Inch Nails, and Tool. I guess I’ve always been one to look for things that weren’t so simple.

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JA: I’m with Mike when it comes to my roots. We grew up together so we shared a lot of the same music with each other. Apart from that, I must say that the main rock and metal influences for me are bands like Lamb of God, Unearth, As I Lay Dying, Within The Ruins, Meshuggah, Circle of Contempt, Killswitch Engage and Misery Signals. I’m a drummer at heart so I’m more of a fan of bands that lean more technically into this area.

At this point, we asked the duo to collectively discuss how they came up with some of their most notable rock themes.

Finn Balor

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CFO $: While we’d love to take all the credit for Finn’s entry ourselves, we certainly can’t. We had written the main riff and orchestral sections of the song and brought them to HHH and the music team for a brainstorming session at an NXT event in Florida. Given the uniqueness of Finn’s character, we all knew his theme needed something special to suit him perfectly. Luckily, HHH had it all mapped out in his head – from the demon’s long brooding entrance – to the chorus that erupted during the orchestra’s breaks, giving the crowd the perfect moment to raise their arms and shout. It’s no wonder this one has become a fan favorite.

Bobby Rood

CFO $: Bobby’s theme started on an acoustic guitar with just the chords and melody of what is now the chorus. Our goal was to create something anthem everyone would feel compelled to sing in the arena. Lyrically, we knew it had to be overdone, and so the sound of the song had to match that as well. The layers and layers of vocals in the chorus were, unsurprisingly, inspired by bands like Queen and Muse. That being said, we wanted to keep things interesting and go very heavy in the section that followed to give it some contrast. Ultimately, it’s one of those songs you can listen to on repeat that doesn’t tire easily – each section makes the other feel new every time it comes back.

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Aleister Black

CFO $: Aleister’s theme might just be the heaviest we’ve written for WWE to date. Typically, we experimented with a number of approaches to the music itself, initially unsure of what kind of “heavy” we were really looking for. What we ended up with was what seemed most brooding and imposing to us. Even though the guitar parts aren’t the most complex in the world, they fit the mood perfectly. Our good friend Brendan Garrone from Incendiary came along and really delivered the vocal part of things, taking the song to a whole new level.

Seth Rollin

CFO $: We needed a piece of music that would match the energy and intensity of Seth’s personality… I mean, it’s SETH FREAKIN’ ROLLINS! The song speaks for itself.

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You can hear all of CFO$’s work this weekend on WWE NXT Brooklyn III and WWE Summer Slam on the WWE Network. Follow CFO$ news on instagram and Twitter. Watch their work throughout the weekend on WWE NXT Takeover Brooklyn III and WWE Summer Slam, only on the WWE Network.

Metal Injection likes to cover the intersection of wrestling and metal. One of the ways is with our podcast, Squared Circle Pit, where we talk to metal musicians about their love of wrestling. Corey Taylor from Slipknot, NJPW star Kenny Omega, George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher from Cannibal Corpse, Jamey Jasta, Andy Williams from Every Time I Die, Zakk Wylde, Mike D from Killswitch Engage, Jacob Bannon from Converge, Scott Kelly from Neurosis , former WWE announcer Justin Roberts, and more.

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