In the world of professional wrestling, WrestleMania is the biggest event every year. It’s their Superbowl, their Oscars, their Fashion Week. And like those events, WrestleMania isn’t just thrown together like your last housewarming party. In his new book Creating The Mania: An Inside Look At How WrestleMania Comes To Life (hardcover, Kindle), writer — and my former coworker — Jon Robinson gives wrestling fans an all-access look at how WrestleMania 34 came together.
Photo Courtesy Of WWE
In a very general sense, what is Creating The Mania about?
It’s the most behind-the-curtain look at WWE and the creating of WrestleMania that has ever been written. The book looks back at everything that happened in the year between WrestleMania 33 and WrestleMania 34. I was given unprecedented access to everyone from the WWE wrestlers to the creative team who writes the storylines to the producers to even people on the business end who talked about the process of selecting the host cities. I couldn’t believe the level of access I received from WWE. It really blew my mind how open they were throughout the process.
Who came up with the idea for this book?
The editors at ECW Press came up with the idea for the book and pitched WWE on the concept. I had just finished another wrestling-related project for ECW, NXT: The Future Is Now, and they gave me a call and asked me if I’d be interested. They had me at “WrestleMania.”
What was it about this idea for Creating The Mania that made you think it was both a good idea for a book and a book you should write?
I was actually skeptical at first, because I didn’t think WWE would actually give me the access to the talent and the creative team that I’d need to actually write the book. But once I talked it over with the book editor at WWE and he assured me the company was on board with doing a true behind-the-scenes book, I jumped at the chance.
There are a couple different ways you’ve could’ve written Creating The Mania. As an oral history, for instance. What form did you chose and why did you think this was the best one as opposed to another?
Once I started the interview process and putting in the requests to meet with talent, I started thinking about how I was going to write it. I actually got to spend some time with Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman when they came to San Jose, and after I walked away from the arena, it hit me to basically do a chapter on each Superstar, telling the story of where their storylines were headed, then linking them all together. I don’t know if WWE thought I was serious when I said I wanted to talk to everybody, but I really did want to talk to everybody.
Non-fiction books can also strike different tones. Some are academic, while others are humorous. What tone did you feel would work best for Creating The Mania and why did you take that approach as opposed to another?
It’s WWE, so academic was out [laughs]. As a huge wrestling fan myself, I think I know what fans want to read, or at least what I’d want to read out of a book like this. I wanted an inside look at the storylines. What the wrestlers wanted out of their stories. Who they wanted to face and why. I also really wanted to learn the reasoning from the creative team as to why some Superstars get pushed while others don’t. I thought the business aspects were also fascinating, and what cities actually have to go through to win the economic windfall that hosting WrestleMania actually brings.
As you mentioned, Creating The Mania is not your first book about wrestling. Was there anything you learned from writing the earlier ones that had a big impact and either what you wrote in Creating The Mania or how you wrote it?
When I wrote NXT: The Future Is Now, everyone came back to me and talked about how they loved the chapter on Bray Wyatt and how he came up with his character, so when I started writing this book, I really kept that in mind and tried to talk to each Superstar about how they came up with different things, from their storylines to specific spots in matches to even the characters themselves. If Bray Wyatt was the greatest hit of the NXTbook, I wanted to create a book of greatest hits that all tied back together under the umbrella of WrestleMania.
In Creating The Mania, you spoke to such WWE Superstars as Seth Rollins, Sasha Banks, and Kevin Owens. Did any of them say anything that really surprised you or made you rethink something about the book?
The biggest thing that surprised me was how secretive the wrestling business is, even to their own performers. I always assumed there was this master script and everyone was working off this script to achieve the end goal, which would be WrestleMania. The WWE calendar is basically built around WrestleMania, and I figured everyone was on the same page knowing where their characters were headed in the storylines. Boy was I wrong.
One of the first guys I started talking to was The Miz, and he was like, “I have no idea what I’m doing for WrestleMania. Nobody does.” I thought he was joking, but he was serious. Then everyone I talked to basically echoed the same thing. They knew for a year that the main event was going to be Roman Reigns versus Brock Lesnar, and they knew heading into the Royal Rumble, that they wanted Nakamura versus AJ Styles, but everything else was really up in the air. A lot of it had to do with injuries. Once one match gets changed due to injury, it creates almost a domino effect across the rest of the card as everything gets shuffled around.
How about the writers, producers, and other technical people; did any of them say anything surprising?
There is a creative team that comes up with the matches and storylines, but even they are kept in the dark sometimes from WWE Chairman and CEO, Vince McMahon. For example, Vince didn’t tell anyone on creative that Ronda Rousey was debuting when she did. They were all watching on the monitors and had no idea it was about to happen. It’s a secretive business, but I never expected that Vince would keep secrets like that from even the creative team who is trying to write the scripts.
Finally, if someone enjoys Creating The Mania, which of your other wrestling books would you suggest they read next and why that one?
I wrote a fun biography with Pete Gas from the Mean Street Posse called Looking At The Lights that talks about how he got into the business, his relationship with Shane McMahon, and what it was like traveling 300 days a year during the infamous Attitude Era. Pete has a knack for really telling a great story.