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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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Alex Granados joined The State of Things in July 2010. He got his start in radio as an intern for the show in 2005 and loved it so much that after trying his hand as a government reporter, reader liaison, features, copy and editorial page editor at a small newspaper in Manassas, Virginia, he returned to WUNC. Born in Baltimore but raised in Morgantown, West Virginia, Alex moved to Raleigh in time to do third grade twice and adjust to public school after having spent years in the sheltered confines of a Christian elementary education. Alex received a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also has a minor in philosophy, which basically means that he used to think he was really smart but realized he wasn’t in time to switch majors. Fishing, reading science fiction, watching crazy movies, writing bad short stories, and shooting pool are some of his favorite things to do. Alex still doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up, but he is holding out for astronaut.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.