Book Review: Creating An Inside Look Into Wrestlemania

Cover Design :Franco Malagisi

Being an honest reviewer, I admit I am skeptical of books released under the WWE brand. The books (at least in the past) have been mostly written with the wrestlers in character throughout, or sometimes, without the wrestlers’ involvement in the telling of their own stories. However, Jon Robinson’s  “Creating The Mania: An Inside Look at How Wrestlemania Comes to Life” (ECW Press/WWE Books, 2018) is an enjoyable book that dispels this notion of past WWE related books.

This book interviews many of the top WWE wrestlers, film producers, and other WWE employees to give an inside look at all the work that goes into the Wrestlemania card, including the events during the week that have grown beyond just having a wrestling show, which made its debut in 1985.

Vince McMahon Jr, who created the Wrestlemania concept, is interviewed early in the book, telling the story how he created the idea of Wrestlemania when he started to turn his then WWF league into a national, and eventually, world-wide extravaganza. Robinson interviews people such as John Saboor, the Executive VP of WWE Special Events, who details how the city of the event gets picked, and how the WWE wants the city’s community to be involved since Wrestlemania is full of events all week, including the Hall of Fame Ceremony, WWE Axxess (that includes fan events and meet and greets with some of the stars), and how the WWE expects to work with the city chosen for years to come, not just a one time deal with the big event. Saboor also states that the WWE plans their major PPV events three years in advance. This part was especially interesting when Saboor states a group of WWE executives meet every three weeks with the city officials, holding meetings that last as long as 8-10 hours a day. Most fans think that the WWE just shows up to the city and puts on the show, which is far from the truth. The planning and execution is extremely detailed and time consuming. The people behind the scenes are just as much champions as the talent seen in front of the cameras.

The book involves many of the WWE stars and their thoughts on Wrestlemania, their favorite Mania matches (as a fan or participant), along with some encounters that they have had, such as wrestlers getting knocked off the card, or matches being switched at the last moment due to injuries or the signings of new stars or celebrities.

The surprising part of this journey is how the writers and wrestlers discuss their involvement with other leagues. In the past the WWE would never mention that a wrestler was a part of another company, but this book mentions Ring of Honor, TNA, and Japanese leagues, which makes it a refreshing read. Another area that is surprising is that the people interviewed for the book talk about how some of the storylines were changed, and bring out subjects that fans may not have known about; such as Braun Strowman being scheduled to win the Andre The Giant Battle Royal before the WWE got football player Rob Gronkowski involved (which switched the ending) and how the creative team did not know if Brock Lesnar was going to beat The Undertaker until McMahon finally made the call during the day of the show. Proposed matches were set like Jason Jordan vs Kurt Angle, Kane vs Finn Balor, and how UFC star Ronda Rousey was going to be used in her first match are covered.

Interviews with Elias, Jeff Jarrett (right before his Hall of Fame Induction), and producer “Road Dogg” Brian James, who informs the reader how The Royal Rumble is planned, are informative, along with the Alexa Bliss/Nia Jax friendship turning into an on screen storyline. There is also a touching story about announcer Corey Graves, and how he had to learn the skills needed to be an announcer after his career ended by injury (His describing all the voices he hears in his headset during a program gives a new respect to the position for those that may not know what goes on during the televised parts of the shows).

“Creating The Mania” has great insights of the wrestlers stating their opinions on future storylines that they’d like to be a part of , or would like to see, including a possible Reigns vs Rock match. This was entertaining, and who knows a possible tease, for fans to converse.

Overall the book has insightful interviews by people in front and behind the screen, with plenty of photographs throughout the book. It takes the reader right before Wrestlemania. The last chapter has a summary of the WrestleMania 2018 results, so the reader can see what happened from the planning stages to the final product. “Mania” also has an interesting section where some of the wrestlers list their all time favorite Wrestlemania match, which is worth the read. The behind the scenes from planning storylines to how the television production is handled is refreshing compared to past WWE sponsored books. “Creating The Mania” is a different approach covering the WWE Universe. Robinson writes well and engages the reader, so much that the reader may go through the whole book in a few days (like I did). The interviews are wonderful, and the reader does not have to be a die hard fan to understand the topics, because it is easy to follow the flow of the stories. Do not let previous stereotypes of past WWE books prevent you from checking this one out. This is worth your time.

 

This review copy was sent courtesy of ECW Press and WWE Books.

 

“Creating The Mania: An Inside Look at How Wrestlemania Comes to Life” by Jon Robinson (ECW/WWE Books, 2018 ISBN: 978-1-77041-450-1 hardcover, 978-1-77305-271-7 ePub, 978-1-77305-272-4 PDF) can be found at http://www.ecwpress.com and is available August 7, 2018.

 

For information about the author, Jon Robinson’s Twitter account is  @JRobAndSteal.

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Cat and Caitlin: Spelling Softball Champions with 2 C’s!

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A shot I took of Firestone Stadium where the Akron Racers play. 2008

Sometime after I graduated college (I graduated in 2002) I was sitting around flipping through the TV channels on a Saturday Afternoon. Much like many things on cable, there was nothing on worth watching. I happened to pass through ESPN and they had women’s college softball on, so I decided to stop and check out a few innings.
I never made it past that channel. I was hooked until the end of the game.
There standing in the pitcher’s mound was a tall superhero, striking out batters right and left from the University of Texas. Not only was she dominating the opposing team, she was also very beautiful and conducted herself with class on the mound. Her name was Cat Osterman.

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Cat Osterman. Photo is from USSA Pride.

For anyone that follows softball or sports, Osterman became a legend in the softball world (yes the word “legend” is used way too much but she well deserves the name in this case). Many people my age may think of Jennie Finch when asked to name a softball player, but this generation may have been brought up on Cat Osterman.
After watching that game I became a fan of women’s softball and started having my favorite players (which were Osterman and Arizonia Wildcat Caitlin Lowe). I started to watch every game I could get access to, especially when it came to the College World Series. I even got printed in the USA Today in 2008 when I wrote about how harmful it was to female athletes when the Olympic Committee decided to remove the sport from their Olympic Events.
( The article can be read on USA Today linkhttp://usatoday30.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20080827/letfeat27.art.htm )

Osterman pitched her last game Monday Night as she announced her retirement. Although it was a losing effort, it takes nothing away from the legacy she has had on the sport. Here are a few stats to show it:
3 Time Big 12 Female Athlete of the Year, (the only athlete male or female to get that honor more than once), 4 Time Big 12 Conference Pitcher of the Year, 4 Time All American, 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist, 2008 Silver Olympic Medalist, 1st Overall pick for National Pro Fastpitch League (NPF) and a 2012 University of Texas Hall of Famer.
This is only some of the achievements she has had, as well as being Champion in the NPF and a commentator for ESPNU, on top of getting her Master’s Degree.

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This is a photo I took of Caitlin Lowe when she was with TEAM USA at a 2008 game against The Akron Racers. I tried to be creative and get a shot of a player away from the team and press , just having a time to herself.

Caitlin Lowe is also retired with an impressive career too , being in both Olympic Medal Teams with Cat and was 2006 and 2007 College World Champion and 3 Pro Titles. She has many records for the Arizona Wildcats, including leader in stolen bases, and Top 10 in hits, triples and runs. And she graduated college too.

 

I had the honor in 2008 to see Osterman and Lowe when the National Team was going around to gear up for the Olympics by playing some of the Pro Teams in Akron Ohio, when they came to face the Akron Racers. Even though Osterman did not play that day, I was honored to see Lowe play, even though a thunderstorm and lightning in the distance prevented me from staying after the game to meet the players (deciding to race the hour plus drive home instead).
The world of Women’s sports lost two great athletes in the past two years in the retirements of Lowe and Osterman on a national level, however both still give back to the sport in other ways, with clinics and coaching. With all the media focusing on male players in the NFL or MLB who are horrible role models, these two athletes not only showed class can be a part of determination to win, but also brought many people to the sport as followers. There will never be another Cat Osterman or Caitlin Lowe, but that’s what made them special.
Thank you to Cat and Cailtin for bringing many people to the sport, including a guy who just happened to stumble across the sport flipping channels one day. I still wear my Arizona Wildcat “Back to Back” Championship, my “Bound for Beijing 08,”and my Cat Osterman “Team USA” shirts with pride.