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Arts & Culture

Why Professional Wrestling Has Such Great Music

Action Figures In Wrestling Match: A Still From Barbecue Man Unleashed

Paul Swartzel has always been a fan of professional wrestling. It all goes back to North Carolina’s own Nature Boy Ric Flair and his delightful entrance music: “Thus Spake Zarathustra.”

“When I was a kid, my first love of classical music was through professional wrestling,” he said.

He said he was convinced that the wrestlers themselves composed their own theme music, and he was obsessed.

“Classical music for me is a wild, wild place,” he said.

Now Swartzel is a doctoral student in the music department at Duke University, and he has combined his love of music with his love of wrestling. The result is “Barbecue Man Unleashed: The Greatest Professional Wrestling Work of All Time.”

It follows the exploits of Barbecue Man Jr,. as he fights to avenge the death of his father.

“Baron Banks Gentry defeated the original Barbecue Man…with a move known as the foreclosure,” he said. “Barbecue Man Jr., witnessing the horror from the crowd, challenges Gentry to a match.”

Swartzel created it with his brother, combining the music with static images for a captivating performance.  

“It’s a piano concerto with a virtual orchestra, and it consists of photographs that my brother…made,” he said. “We made a miniature wrestling arena in my parents basement.”

Swartzel showed the film in March for a concert of dissertation pieces and he plans to submit it to various film and music festivals.

Barbecue Man Unleashed: The Greatest Professional Wrestling Work of All Time

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