If there is one thing that WrestleMania has become known for over the last few decades, other than the matches and moments, it is the grand stage designs that have become synonymous with the event itself.
As fans, we don’t see any glimpse of the set until the days leading up to the show as sneakily captured images are leaked out, followed by WWE’s official reveal a day or so before the event. But what is the process for getting these sets from a blank piece of paper to an enormous design beamed around the world?
Australian sports website The Inner Sanctum spoke to WWE Production Designer and Lighting Director Jason Robinson who has been involved with the creation of the WrestleMania sets since 1998.
Before that time, WrestleMania sets were typically simple entranceways. It was only in the last few years of the 1990s that things began to change. The floodgates really opened when ‘Mania became a much bigger production with its move to stadiums and domes on an almost annual basis in 2001. Of the change, Robinson said:
“Until [the turn of the millennium], WrestleMania had featured fans 360-degrees around the ring and the sets had to be really small. After that, the sets grew with the venues. [To plan this out] we go to the stadium for a site survey to sit and simply look around and go: “Okay, what’s different? What’s creative about this stadium? What assets can we use? How do we want this show to look? When I get that ‘aha’ moment, it is time to go pitch it and say: “Hey, I’ve got a cool idea”. If Executive Producer Kevin Dunn says: “Yep, that’s a cool idea, go for it,” then I’m off. As soon as I know that I’m in the right direction, that’s where the work becomes really fun.”
The conceptualising of the set design will often begin around six months before the event itself takes place to ensure that fans get a special experience from stadiums they may have seen on TV on many occasions. That is especially true this year with the eyes of the world being on Raymond James Stadium as recently as February when it held the NFL’s Super Bowl between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs in front of the biggest sports crowds in the USA since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. When asked what this means for his team in creating something unique, Robinson said:
“A lot of sports fans around the world have just seen the stadium host the Super Bowl on TV. So they know what it looks like. Now it’s our turn. We’re going in there to do something different. I don’t think it matters whether fans are seeing it again after the Super Bowl or for the first time with WWE, they are going to love what they see.”
WrestleMania 37 takes place on April 10th and 11th 2021. You can get all the information you need on the event with our handy explainer guide or join in our WrestleMania Predictions Contest for the chance to win a classic WCW Championship mini-belt courtesy of WWE Euroshop.