The lights in the arena go dark, and immediately the thousands of people in attendance begin anticipatory cheers. Piano music pumps through the speakers, the melody seemingly simulates a drum roll with the last note hanging in the air — the audience waits for it.
Spotlights shine on the stage to illuminate World Wrestling Entertainment star Bobby Roode — a 6-foot-tall Canadian nearly 20 years into his career as a professional wrestler. As soon as that light sheens on Roode, the speakers blare the word “glorious,” as fans sing along with Roode’s theme song of “Glorious Domation” by CFO$.
As Roode — who uses his real name instead of a wrestling pseudonym — struts down the ramp to the wrestling ring, he plays to the crowd, gesturing with each refrain of the word glorious.
In the land of spectacle that is WWE, Roode’s entrance stands above nearly all others, and that show will make its debut in La Crosse in March. The WWE Road to WrestleMania tour of untelevised shows will make a stop in La Crosse at 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 5 at the La Crosse Center. Tickets start at $15 and are available at ticketmaster.com or at the La Crosse Center box office.
Roode’s entrance serves not only as a lift of energy to the crowds for whom he performs, but also as a central basis of his character. Roode — aka “The Glorious One” — is better than you and whoever steps into the ring with him. Despite the ego present in his work, Roode is a crowd favorite, and knows his theme song is a big part of it.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Roode said in a phone interview on Tuesday, speaking on audiences’ reaction to his entrance. “When I was breaking into the business in 1998, the music was huge. Stone Cold Steve Austin’s glass breaking, The Undertaker, D-Generation X, it’s part of what made those guys popular.
“It’s what the fans are reacting to. It’s part of the performance, from the curtain to the ring, it’s all part of it.”
His theme song has become part of the broader sports landscape as well. The Nashville Predators used it as their anthem during their run to the Stanley Cup Final, playing it in their arena before the third periods of games and in promotional videos.
Roode is often sent videos via social media of couples who used the song as part of their wedding, be it as the song the groom walks down the aisle in or as a first dance tune.
“I’m really fortunate to have this song given to me, and create this ‘Glorious’ character,” Roode said. “And I’m given the time each week to do (the entrance).”
Social media is playing an increasing role in the lives of WWE performers, interacting with fans on a daily basis. Roode said there are positive and negative aspects to social media’s growth in his profession. He said he enjoys getting the aforementioned messages of his theme song being involved in peoples’ lives, and he likes to share artwork featuring his image his followers create. But, as many in the public eye can attest, constantly being open to anonymous online criticism can become grating.
“With social media, you take the good and the bad of it. You have to make the most of the opportunities,” Roode said. “You can use social media to your benefit to expand your character and gets eyes on you and what you’re doing.”
WWE as a whole pushes social media as hard or harder than any sports/entertainment brand — it spends weekly cable airtime describing its interaction numbers (likes, mentions, shares, etc.) and having its branded hashtags reach No. 1 in the U.S. and world.
Roode is involved in the company’s most recent social media blitz, the Mixed Match Challenge — a tag-team tournament with teams comprised of a male and female performer, exclusively streamed on Facebook Watch. Roode is teamed up with Charlotte Flair, the daughter of former wrestling star Ric Flair.
Pro wrestling industry outlets have speculated this tournament, which runs through March, is WWE testing the market to have its programming on streaming-only services when its cable deal with NBCUniversal is up next year.
“That’s the trend right now,” Roode said. “When I started, it was all about TV ratings. But TV ratings aren’t the way they used to be, you can’t go by just the TV rating you get.
“Now, we’re really dialed into the social media ratings, hits or what hashtag is being used the most. We’re social media-driven now, the social media team is huge in WWE. It really helps expand our brand.”