In an interview with Wild Talk Radio, 30 Years of Wrestlemania author Brian Shields spoke on a variety of topics, including the best rivalries in WWE history. Here are highlights:
On how he feels now that book is released to the public: “I have to tell you, whenever the date comes where the book is released, you always get butterflies; you’re always very excited. I think today with social media, it takes those feelings and multiplies them by a thousand. But I think today is a little extra special; the fact that it’s 30 years of WrestleMania, there’s never been a book quite like this that looks at WrestleMania and today culminates for me what was a year and a half working with WWE and DK Publishing. So, today is a very exciting day.”
On what the book offers: “That’s a great point. I think the big thing is there are some similarities between the WWE Encyclopedia, WWE 50 and 30 Years of WrestleMania and the big thing that readers will notice right away, which is a huge positive, is that 30 Years of WrestleMania is designed in that signature DK Style of these beautiful hardcover commemorative books. So, right away, that’s going to be just an incredible journey for the reader to be able to go on page after page. Once you get into the content of the book, 30 Years of WrestleMania is a behind-the-scenes, so you’re going to have a combination of stories from people that are sharing what was going on in the ring and behind-the-scenes. And then, you know, the rivalries there is some context; when you talk about these big rivalries, things that were going on at the time, whether it was between Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper or Roddy Piper and Mr. T for WrestleManias 1 and 2, Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, The Mega Powers. You’re going up through; you’re literally turning pages of history with each page. 30 Years of Wrestlemania is over 220 pages, so readers are going to get that insight from the first WrestleMania chapter all the way up through The Rock vs John Cena, which made mainstream news in terms of the actual tension between the two of them, so there will be insight there.
There’s so many things about the book that make it special and unique; one of the big things and it says this on the front cover, so you know it’s a big deal, that the forward of the book was written by ‘Mr. WrestleMania’ himself, Shawn Michaels. That’s something that takes the idea that this book is a commemorative volume to a whole new level.”
On the best WrestleMania rivalries: “That’s a tough question. First of all, I’m the worst at picking just one of anything. I think, for me, Hulk (Hogan) and Andre is there and I think, especially if you’re a fan of a certain age and I think maybe if you’re a younger fan but you love the history of sports entertainment as a business; I mean even when WWE released their Top Rivalries DVD, which is one of my favorite releases, that is on the cover. So, I think that one is huge.
Austin vs Rock I think is one that is so unique because when they were battling, you had WWE on television whether on the Monday Night War or following the Monday Night War, they were on television every week in countries all over the world and they main evented 3 WrestleManias. No other rivalry has seen that; that in itself is an incredible achievement. We’ve seen WrestleManias where a main event has been seen twice; you had Bret Hart and Yokozuna at WrestleManias 9 and 10 respectively, and in recent years we had John Cena vs The Rock at WrestleManias 28 and 29. But, for a rivalry to be in such a prominent position at three WrestleManias; I mean to main event a WrestleMania is what the competitors say that it is and that’s a dream, that’s why you get into the business and to have that at three is just incredible.
I think that the third one, for me, and it’s not a rivalry so that if it doesn’t count for me not answering the question, I’ll come up with one but I think, for me, just what The Streak meant to WWE and WrestleMania is just something that I don’t think we’ll ever see again. So when I think of WrestleMania and rivalries, the two: Hogan/Andre and Rock/Stone Cold are the big ones that come to mind and I think for me, at WrestleMania, The Streak is a big part of it.
I think another rivalry, now that I’m thinking about it; The Rock and John Cena I though was something really special and unique. That’s another thing where I don’t know if we’ll see something like that again; I mean the first WrestleMania I attended was WrestleMania 18 and The Rock vs Hollywood Hogan was just incredible. I think with The Rock and John Cena I think the rivalry being what it was in that these two were still in their physical primes, I thought it added a unique layer to it and was really something unique and special.”
On talking with Triple H about WrestleMania 28: “We talked about it and it’s one of things where you could tell how much it meant to him. It was something especially that moment where they’re look out together; that was something that happened. That was not part of the match or part of the performance or anything like that; it was something and that was something I really loved hearing about. When you see that, you can tell it really meant a lot to the fans and it meant even more to them (the wrestlers); even the announcers, you can even hear the announcers and it was just a very special moment.
I think, for me, it’s up there when you think of these iconic moments; the first iconic WrestleMania moment that I think of with Triple H is from WrestleMania 18 and him holding up both the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship. I think maybe because of my age and growing up watching all types of wrestling and sports entertainment where for me, that belt (World Heavyweight Championship) was from the competitive organization, so for me, when I think of his iconic moments, that’s the first one. But yeah, the ‘End of an Era’, with the three of them standing on the stage looking out to the crowd, was one of the top ones of all time and I think one that I think people will talk about forever.”
On the future of WWE: “First off, NXT is one of my favorite parts of WWE programming and the WWE Network. For me, I really enjoy watching NXT and I think when you look at Monday Night Raw and Friday Night Smackdown and you see the superstars of today, there are so many incredible athletes and storytellers that the WWE’s future, it’s exciting when you think of the next 3, 5, 7 years and you look at the WWE roster today, I think when you watch NXT you start doubling those numbers. The talent there is phenomenal; they are signing talent and there’s the important thing and that is really exciting is the development and what’s going on with development is really a first-class development system for athletes and entertainers. So I love NXT.
I think the three of those signings (KENTA, Prince Devitt and Kevin Steen) are all great and to have them all within a certain amount of time from one another I think is very exciting. I’m going to be very interested to see what happens with each of them and when they get called up. I think that’s another thing that’s really unique and exciting about NXT and the WWE Network is that before that, you really had to follow the industry very closely, kind of like anything else is sports or entertainment where you’d have to follow the professional sports team and their farm system and things like that, whereas now, if it was OVW or Deep-South or FCW, it was available but you’d have to really search for it, just to follow it. Now, I think it’s so exciting that we’re able to follow these performers and see them on television and now we really see their rise through the main roster and one of the coolest things, I thought, was last week’s NXT tag match (from RAW) and I think that things like that are only to get better. That’s why I’m so excited to know when we talk about WWE’s future; I think when you look at their main roster and then you look at NXT and see what’s happening in NXT, it’s really exciting. ”