While flipping channels between PBS and the Science channel, you might have caught some professional wrestling at some point. If not, you should know that when there is to be a wrestling match, each wrestler comes out to the stage one at a time, to jeers or cheers from the waiting crowd. While covering the distance from backstage to the ring, background music blares just before the wrestler steps out and continues for a time after they enter the ring, with a positive correlation between music duration and gesticulation intensity once they have entered the ring. The wrestlers generally prefer up-tempo hard rock to Debussy as their accompanying song in that minute or so. This is the ‘entrance theme’ music and some wrestlers have entrance theme music written just for them. These songs can become part of the wrestler’s identity, and find their way into ring tones, DVD releases, and, of course, videogames.
THQ is a videogame publisher that has many original titles, such as Saint’s Row and Darksiders, as well as publishing games based on licensed material, such as South Park, Warhammer: 40,000, and WWE wrestling. THQ game producer Julia Sessing called James D. Papa regarding his ownership of songs such as “Badstreet USA” “Man Called Sting” and a dozen other titles of which Papa is the reported composer or co-composer. Though these songs are not all radio hits or known in every household, they are identified with entrance theme music for wrestlers, particularly Michael “P.S.” Hayes, of the wrestling group the Fabulous Freebirds. Sessing contacted Papa in anticipation of a “Legends of Wrestlemania” title, yet later indicated that THQ records showed WWE as owning “Badstreet USA” and other titles.
Papa then checked with Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) which handles collecting licensing fees and distributing royalties from artists. According to a complaint filed in federal court in Texas, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) had improperly re-registered themselves as the owners of the song, when Papa was the true owner. Thus, Papa has filed a complaint in federal court in Texas to re-establish his ownership, collect past royalties, enjoin further misuse, and so on. Now Papa has to watch for a Motion to Dismiss off of the top ropes.