The wrestling world is pretty excited that it is WrestleMania weekend. For me, it’s a little different.
It’s been years since I went to a WrestleMania — in Chicago for #22 in 2006, in fact. (I also went to WM VI as a fan in Toronto, and worked at WM XV in Philadelphia, WM 2000 in Anaheim, and WM 17 in Houston.) Since then, the SLAM! Wrestling site has continued to grow, along with the whole weekend. Whereas there were “just” a couple of Ring of Honor shows in Chicago in 2006 (including an incredible 65-minute draw between ROH World champion Bryan Danielson, er, Daniel Bryan, and Roderick Strong), now there is a smorgasbord of yummy wrestling shows for fans of all walks of life all around town.
Therefore my focus has switched from being the writer on site to being the editor in charge.
Much of my time the last week was spent arranging media credentials, discussing plans for filing stories and photos, and balancing when to run content on the site.
For the record, SLAM! Wrestling has Jan Murphy of the Kingston Whig-Standard heading down as the writer, filing to the entire Sun Media chain. Naturally, what we want at SLAM! Wrestling is a little different than what a mainstream newspaper would want, so Jan and I talked about what opportunities there would be. For example, Finn Balor is on the promised list of wrestlers at one event Jan has been invited to; well, we don’t need a Finn Balor story up before Mania, but we’d LOVE to have one — so if he gets him great (and I sent along a question for a long-range story for good measure).
But Roman Reigns for two minutes talking about his main event bout against Brock Lesnar is a gimme of a story.
We’ll have two photographers in town.
Veteran Mike Mastrandrea heads down from Toronto and will shoot mainly WWE events, including the WWE Hall of Fame and WrestleMania itself. He’s in the pit at Mania, along with the other photographers, which provides its own challenges. But he’s come through with some great stuff every year he’s gone, and I look forward to what Mike comes up with this year — including shots of Jan Murphy marking out for and/or getting pummeled by Brock Lesnar.
The other photographer is local, Devin Chen, from San Francisco. He’s done some great galleries for us in the past, and I’ve always been impressed with his work. His biggest weakness, which we talked about, is an inability to pare down the photos — I don’t need every photo sent to me, and it’s even less so now if the Sun Media papers are going to be picking up some. Devin is shooting Ring of Honor and all the amazing WWN Live events — SHIMMER, EVOLVE, the supershow — and hopefully WrestleCon. He’ll also shoot Smackdown on Tuesday.
As for me, I’m at home base, and I’ll live vicariously through my guys in town, and other friends who will be there (“When’s your birthday, Lewis Curry?”). Someone has to deal with Jan’s dozen stories or so, and the hundreds and hundreds of photos that come through. Plus there’s the live coverage of the PPV itself on Sunday night (headed by Nick Tylwalk and Dale Plummer), along with the PPV report from John Powell, and coordinating coverage with the rest of Canoe and Sun Media.
I debated going out, particularly since it’s in the Bay Area, and I have extended family there, but the reality is that I’d be spending hours in a hotel room with often-shaky wi-fi, uploading photos and updating the site.
Safe travels to all my friends and all the fans heading out to WrestleMania. It’ll be a great time, whether it’s your first or your 15th time.