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January 20, 2018

Jim Johnston On How Relationship With Vince McMahon Changed, Not Understanding His WWE Departure

On episode 31 of Prime Time with Sean Mooney, the former WWE play-by-play announcer caught up with longtime WWE composer Jim Johnston. Among many other things, Johnston talked about his relationship with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon and how it changed over his WWE tenure, how his WWE run came to a close, and what is next for the legendary entrance theme songwriter.

Johnston claimed that he worked very closely with McMahon early on, but Kevin Dunn became more involved over time.

"Well, early on, he and I spent a lot of time together," Johnston recalled, "I was out on the road and fortunately that stopped, so I could really just concentrate on being in the studio. It was actually necessary. It had to stop because of the demands and the need in the company for music was growing so rapidly that I was working seven days a week to keep up with stuff. But early on it was a very direct relationship where he would tell me about new stuff coming up that was needed and it was real simple. Slowly over time Kevin Dunn became a little bit of a go-between between us as well as having his own contributions. Often, he would have very, very good instincts about music."

Johnston indicated that his relationship with McMahon grew more distant as the company grew and their communication got very bad in the last few years.

"And then, as the company grew, sadly, that grew more and more distant because he got swept away into… well, we all got swept away because everything became more important. And then, towards the last years I was there, communication kind of fell apart. I think that's what really got us on a bad road."

According to Johnston, approximately 3 years ago WWE changed and things became more political. The scribe behind 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin's legendary theme should have taken 'The Rattlesnake''s advice: D.T.A.

"I guess three or so years ago, I'd say three to four years ago, a lot of politics got involved, personal stuff that I don't want to go into." Johnson explained, "but over the years I've had a failing in myself that I'll probably keep doing because I know in my heart that I don't think it's a failing, but it's not a good trait for business. I tend to get a bit Polly Annish to a point where I tend to trust people that unfortunately I've been shown that I shouldn't trust. There were people that really thought were friends that turned out not to be friends."

With respect to how his lengthy WWE career came to an end, Johnston said that he spoke with McMahon briefly. Johnston went on to suggest that the situation should have played out differently.

"I had a brief conversation with Vince and it was over," Johnston explained. "All I'll say is that I think there were a lot of ways to end it and the way that it ended was… I think there were better ways to end it where everyone could have walked away with a much better feeling. And after 32 years, it seems like a lost opportunity to me and I don't really understand it."

Johnston stated that he is starting from scratch in a way because WWE never rolls credits after its programs and he is not very well known in other circles.  

"This is what I've been doing and it's a combination of not ever having a credit roll in WWE programming, so while fans have been incredibly kind know me well, they're not the people who are hiring to write music for TV shows and films and I'm sort of lesser known there. And while I have a nice resume, it's still something that I'm kind of starting a new business. People kind of know me once I educate them about who I am."

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