Veteran WWE set designer Jason Robinson has opened up on the creative process behind the spectacular stage designs for WrestleMania and his Star Wars influences.
Approaching WrestleMania, one of the most anticipated moments for fans is discovering how the arena hosting the event has been set up to become the ‘Grandest Stage Of Them All’. Over the years, the designs have become ever more extravagant, from the New York City Skyline sitting above the ring at WrestleMania 29 to the rollercoaster built at the top of the ramp for WrestleMania 33, the big reveal never disappoints.
In an interview with Metro.co.uk, Robinson revealed that Star Wars has been a major influence on his work.
“Star Wars was a big influence for me, the unique shapes and the bright lights and the colours. I wanted my lighting to look like that.
“One of my favourite colour schemes that I use was inspired by Empire Strikes Back, the deep blues, purples and orange backgrounds during the lightsaber duel between Luke and Darth.”
Robinson says the process of designing the WrestleMania set begins six months before the show with the team looking at the empty arena and thinking up ideas. The process of sketching out plans goes on until they get the green light from WWE Executive Producer and Chief of Global Television Distribution Kevin Dunn.
“My favourite thing is carrying Post-It notes around with me and sketching ideas. And those ideas sometimes come at three in the morning or in the show. As soon as I know that I’m in the right direction, that’s where the work becomes really fun.”
He went on to explain that his favourite part of the whole process is getting to see the result of all the hard work over the previous months on the night before the extravaganza.
“My favourite part of the whole design process is the night before WrestleMania.
“When it’s all quiet, we’ve taken months and months to design and fabricate the set. I’ve done many site surveys and hours of planning. It’s 1:00am in the morning, all the rehearsals are complete, the stadium is quiet. The lighting guys still have all the lights on and the programming is finished, and we get to quietly look around at the final design before going on air the next day.”
Robinson is remaining tight-lipped about the plans for this year’s spectacle, saying only that it will be a different experience to the Super Bowl, which was held in the same arena earlier this year.
“A lot of sports fans around the world have just seen the stadium, 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.”
With only a few weeks to go until WrestleMania 37 descends on the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, we won’t have to wait long to find out what Jason Robinson and his team have in store for the ‘Showcase of the Immortals’ this year, but there’s no doubt it will be worth the wait.