WWE’s Seth Rollins helped The Wonder Years ‘cheat’ for WrestleMania Weekend theme song
Posted by  badge Boss on Feb 23

The Wonder Years have officially unveiled Year of the Vulture for NXT Stand & Deliver 2024.

The Philadelphian rockers – led by wrestling superfan frontman Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell – have recorded a storming track as part of ’s WrestleMania 40 festivities in their hometown, and it’s a dream come true for the 38-year-old singer.

Speaking exclusively to Metro.co.uk about the new single, Campbell said: ‘Yeah, so we cheated a little bit. Because my boy Seth Rollins, I text and was like, “Big dawg, what is the main going to be?”

‘And he was like, “We don’t know yet. But chances are, it’s“, and I was like, okay, so I know I want to write from Ilja’s perspective to a degree.’

It does look like he will be stepping into Stand & Deliver as NXT Champion, and The Wonder Years’ new song is teeming with nods to the ‘reckless’ and energetic titleholder.

‘You look at him standing next to Baron Corbin – Baron Corbin looks like a brick wall,’ Campbell pointed out. ‘Here’s a man who, literally, his finish is to run his skull into it. And that’s where you get the, “I ran my head into a brick wall” lyric.’

Ilja Dragunov is marching towards NXT Stand & Deliver (Picture: WWE)
The Tsar is the inspiration behind Year of the Vulture (Picture: WWE)

He took notes from, including getting attacked backstage by Carmelo Hayes, which gave way to the song’s title with ‘the vultures always circling’, while Dragunov prompted ‘I’m dragging you down with me’, and his Tsar nickname led to the line: ‘This is how the king falls.’

It was the summer of 2023 when The Wonder Years’ label sent NXT bosses some of the band’s material to try and land the Stand & Deliver theme.

It was a busy time for Campbell, working on the new Aaron West & The Roaring Twenties album In Lieu of Flowers, before spending time with family and then embarking on a nine-week tour.

By January, they finally got to writing with just three weeks until the deadline, while he was still scribbling down lyrics with Ilja’s matches on another screen as the band tracked guitars for the song.

Ilja is known for taking relentless punishment (Picture: WWE)

‘I did some s**t with my voice that I’ve never done before,’ he admitted, which proves true in the growling, intense feel to the vocals.

But there was still the question of whether or not WWE would actually select the song, which was by no means guaranteed.

‘I understand how privileged we are to have done the things we’ve done in our career. But things like this tend to go to bands that are not us,’ Campbell said. ‘When I got the phone call from the label… I was like, “What? Holy s**t really? Us?”‘

It’s only fitting he gets this opportunity, given his adoration for professional wrestling as an artform – and he’s already pitched other ideas .

The Wonder Years have crafted a song in Ilja’s image (Picture: Kelly Mason)

‘Everything from, you know, just let us come and watch to let us play at the end at the Kickoff show, to put me on commentary. I know what I’m talking about! Put me on a pre show. Give me something!’

Campbell’s ties to wrestling go beyond simply loving watching it – WrestleMania X and Bret Hart is a core memory for him there – as there is a deeper connection between the squared circle and his art.

‘There’s a certain difference in our brains, when you are so enamored with an art form, and performing that art form,’ he explained. ‘Where you are willing to live this total transient nomadic life with a serious lack of permanence, to go out and do this thing, and try to make a town every night, right? There’s not a lot of jobs, or lifestyles that are like that.’

It runs deeper still, with Campbell and the band’s outlook on their own ‘space’ in the music scene taking its lead from the way veterans in wrestling ‘go out on their back’ to help rising stars.

The band take inspiration from wrestling (Picture: Kelly Mason)

‘You’re giving that spot to somebody that’s deserving,’ he said. ‘It almost reminds me of when [John] Cena had the US Title open challenge, and he was giving marquee spots to Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens.’

Perhaps the clearest connection between wrestling and Campbell’s art is Aaron West, a fictional character he created who to date has two studio albums (with the third, In Lieu of Flowers, coming on April 12), a live LP, an EP and shows around the world.

It blurs the lines in a similar way to wrestling, and there’s even a nod to the grappling world with Aaron living in Rosita, California because Campbell has been so ‘so many PWG shows’ in the area.

‘I cry it everything,’ he said, pondering the connection listeners have to Aaron’s story. ‘I’m crying at the end of Parks and Recreation. I feel for characters deeply, always. I’ve cried watching wrestling, right? Like, you get choked up when you think about Shawn saying “I love you, I’m sorry”, and kicking [Ric Flair’s] head off.’

What do the next few years hold for Campbell and The Wonder Years (Picture: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images)

So, what of the future?

‘Anything can happen,’ Campbell admitted. ‘There are plenty of singers that blow their voice out and can never sing again, plenty of people that just decide, you know, music is not for me anymore.

‘Or, you know, I’ve got two young kid. At some point, I might have to leave this world and go work a job where I’m closer to home for them every day, and not just half the year or whatever.’

He added: ‘Every time I make a record, I want to make it with a finale that feels like it gives you everything you need.’

The Wonder Years – Year of the Vulture is available now to stream and download. Hear it during NXT Stand & Deliver on April 6.