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Rob Schamberger Talks Wrestlemania, Warrior’s Final Ring Jacket, Macho Man HOF, Undertaker’s Streak & More

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Acclaimed and exhibited artist, painter of the Champion Portrait series and portrait maker of your favorite wrestling stars as seen on the likes of WWEShop.com and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Rob Schamberger joined “Multi-time Award Winning” the Rack Thursday Night. In a nearly 30 minute interview, he discussed what it was like being a part of WrestleMania XXX and Axxess, how it was like to be in the arena and see the reaction live of ‘The Streak’ being broken, who are his most favorite people to paint and who most surprised him, what it was like to paint 80 works in 70 days, his reaction to getting to paint the Ultimate Warrior’s jacket and his reaction to Warrior’s passing, doing a live painting of ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin at SummerSlam, what it was like to paint a work about WWE Hall of Famer Connor Michalek and much more.

What was it like to be a part of WrestleMania XXX and Axxess events: “It was life changing; there’s no other way to describe it. It was a ton of hard work, each day was about 20 hours and it was more like napping than sleeping bit it was definitely… there was my life before WrestleMania XXX and then there’s my life after and those are two very different things and I’m very excited to see what happens this year.”

What was it like to be there and see ‘The Streak’ of the Undertaker be broken: “I had a very unique vantage point for the show, because I hand painted the jacket Ultimate Warrior wore the next night on RAW, I actually got to watch the show from his private box and my wife and I and his agent some of his (Warrior’s) personal friends; didn’t actually get to hang out with him there, he was pretty busy backstage. But, we’re up there watching and being able to see the whole crowd, about 75,000 people that were there; having that kind of vantage point to see that was awesome. Like when seeing everyone doing Yes chant at the same time, it was almost like something from a zombie movie; 75,000 people doing the same motion at the same time.

It was an Undertaker match, so I was definitely into it, but also in the back of my head, I was like ‘Oh, it’s a WrestleMania match, he’s going to win’. So, I was turned and talking to Warrior’s agent and all of a sudden it happened and I was like ‘wait, what… what just happened’ and everyone was just stunned and then the graphic went up that said 21-1 and I describe it to people and they think it’s hyperbole but it’s true: there was a tangible feeling of 75,000 people, at the same time, gasping. The air actually getting sucked out of the arena, it was just the strangest thing. Then they started showing the crowd reactions, and Warrior’s agent and I were just chuckling at the reactions on people’s faces at the time and then I turn around to nudge my wife and I see that she’s one of them. She’s was between utterly stupefied and 100% rage. It was just so strange.”

His reaction to seeing his jacket on Warrior the next night and Warrior’s passing: “We (him and his wife) actually didn’t stay in New Orleans on that Monday, we drove back and I’d told my family you need to text me screen captures right away (of the jacket on RAW) to see what he’s wearing. My wife was driving and then all of a sudden, my text messages start blowing up and my Twitter blows up and everyone goes ‘Oh my God, that’s a Rob Schamberger painting!’. So, we didn’t get to watch it live, unfortunately, but by the time we’d got back to Kansas City, it was about 1:30 am and we went ahead and fast forwarded to the moment and both of us had our ugly cry over just how emotional the whole week had been and finally there it was, my art in the middle of the ring, wrapped around Warrior in his dramatic comeback and with everything that he was saying.

So, Tuesday night, we were finally watching the show and the next segment to come up was Warrior and I got a text from one of my friends saying ‘Warrior died’ and I just couldn’t comprehend what I was reading, right? Those two words, is this carny talk that I’m unfamiliar with; is this just wrestler lingo? My wife could see that there was something wrong with me and I couldn’t say it, I couldn’t make it real. So, I did a quick search online and saw Triple H’s statement and WWE’s statement about it and then I had to tell her. After, we just sat there in silence for about an hour, and finally we were like we just have to go to bed, we can’t deal with this.

Warrior’s agent, I friendly with, his father had passed away a few weeks before so, I immediately sent a note to him letting him know he was in my thoughts and also everything with Dana (Warrior’s wife) and the girls. For so many people, their hero had come back and then their hero passed away, but for them (Dana and the girls) it was their husband and father. But I corresponded with all of them and I promised him (Warrior’s agent) to do a painting of Warrior in the jacket as a thank you gift for putting all that together and I used some of the same paint that I’d used on the jacket for the painting and that helped me; that was a hard painting to do. By the time I was done with it, I was very happy I’d done it and don it for that person.”

On returning to WrestleMania this year: “I will be painting there again; it’s pretty cool I’ll be doing a big portrait of Macho Man and WWE has provided me with a ring canvas that we’ve stretched out and I’ll be painting on that to do the portrait.”

On his painting about 80 works in 70 days : “All of these were for WrestleMania; 30 of them, well, 29 because I’d already done WrestleMania 30, but 29 of them were the WrestleMania Series paintings that I did, where I painted each WrestleMania, so that’s about 1/3 of them but also there are other paintings we’re going to have there. I had to get those done because I’m going to be backstage at RAW and Smackdown next week getting them signed so I had to have them all ready by then. So that’s why I had that amount of paintings to get done, it’s pretty much the whole roster plus each WrestleMania.”

The biggest challenge he has in painting portraits of WWE talent: “I haven’t had anyone tell me that they don’t like them; I don’t know if they’re just polite or what, but it’s not so much that as just trying, in my mind, to do the best piece possible that represents what their persona is all about and still have it look cool so that people will want it too. That’s mostly it; and then also mostly when I’m dealing with them, we’re essentially co-workers so it’s like when you’re at the office you want to make sure you’re doing a good job so that’s kind of how it is dealing with them too.”

The announcement of Connor Michalek being names the first recipient of the Warrior Award at this year’s Hall of Fame: “My wife just utterly lost it; she was bawling like crazy when we were watching that. I talk with Steve, Connor’s father, occasionally, he’s a really, really nice man, and it’s really special to see how everything around WWE and all the fans are keeping Connor’s memory alive and now that memory is being used to help out so many other people. I did a painting of when Connor pinned Triple H and did the Yes chant above him with Daniel Bryan and gave it to Steve and he set it up in his living room.

That one was really, really emotional; I mean, doing the painting alone was tough but the, when I talked to Steve he said he hadn’t been able to look at any pictures or footage of his son from that time because Connor was very, very sick and all that he could see was how sick his son was and that he was going to be gone very shortly. He said that the painting was the first time that he was able to look at that and really have those emotions about how special that moment was for Connor. That was one of those things that reminded me why I do what I do. That one was a tough one to do but I was glad to do it.”

You can follow Rob through his Twitter (@robschamberger), his Tumblr (robschamberger.tumblr.com) or visit his homepage (http://robschamberger.com) for all the latest on him and projects as well as a gallery of his work; you can also see and bid on Rob’s work through wweauctions.com. You can also see Rob as part of WrestleMania with WrestleMania Axxess week; go to wwe.com or Ticketmaster.com for tickets and a list of events associated with Axxess.

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