SAN JOSE/SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — There’s media relations and then there’s media relations.
Many companies and professional sports leagues the world over pride themselves on establishing strong relationship with the media.
None are even in the same sport, let alone league, as World Wrestling Entertainment.
Friday was international media day during WrestleMania 31 festivities in Silicon Valley and the WWE not only trudged out some of its marquee stars to mingle with media from literally all over the world, but it pretty well rolled out the red carpet and practically spoon fed the massive throng of reporters and photographers, which totaled two full chartered buses carrying international media and scores of domestic and local media as well.
Literally hundreds of media representatives from the likes of Japan, England, New Zealand, China, Canada, the UK and elsewhere were on hand for three media-only events, the first at the site of WWE Fan Axxess in San Jose, followed by a media junket at the luxurious Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Francisco and topped by a media appreciation dinner at a restaurant in San Jose.
Where other pro sports leagues will hold a media scrum where reporters can do rapid-fire questions or perhaps an organized press conference at which reporters can ask questions to a player or players sitting at a podium, the WWE brings its talent to the media.
In the morning session, media were situated at tables, around a makeshift NXT ring and all over a conference centre and nearly a dozen WWE stars were brought to the media, for one-on-one interviews and photo ops. In the course of roughly three hours, dozens of members of the media got to ask a variety of questions (nothing was off limits) of the stars, who moved from one area to another, answering questions thoughtfully and openly.
Some interviewers wished for the talent to remain in character, while others sought opinions on things such as sports teams, television programs and more.
If that weren’t enough, there was more. Media were bused an hour to San Francisco, at the Fairmont, where it waited for a tour bus trolley to deliver a number of the WWE’s biggest names, including the legendary Hulk Hogan, for even more interviews, inside the hotel’s presidential suite.
There, media were divided by their respective medium, fed and treated to 10-15 minutes with Hogan, WWE’s Chief Brand Officer and daughter of Chairman Vince McMahon Stephanie McMahon Levesque, John Cena, Daniel Bryan, the Bella Twins, and Roman Reigns.
Interview questions again ranged from sporting questions to questions about the future, industry talk, WrestleMania itself and more.
The evening was topped by a dinner and appreciation event that was not a working event, but rather a chance for media and clients to mingle with WWE talent and brass in a relaxed environment.
You can criticize the product, the writing or the outcome of a match, but it’s hard to be critical of the WWE when it comes to how it handles its media and makes its talent readily available.
What WWE officials and stars said on media day
“I hope that after WrestleMania the level of writing and focus and spotlight that is put on this title continues, because if it doesn’t, then it’s all for nothing. But like I said, we get this moment at WrestleMania. We’re going to go out there, we’re going to kill it, we’re going to have a great match and put in a great performance, I guarantee it. Like I said, after WrestleMania, fingers crossed that momentum can continue.” — Bad News Barrett
“We very much enjoy having Brock Lesnar as part of our roster. When Brock Lesnar comes out … looks like the killer that he is.” — Stephanie McMahon-Levesque
“You can’t put it into words, you know what I mean? You cannot articulate it. Unless you’re actually there and you feel it, trying to describe it is just completely futile.” — Damien Mizdow on the feeling when walking out in front of a WrestleMania crowd.
“Lots of people have been champion, but no one else has had a streak like his at WrestleMania. For me, it is the omega.” — Bray Wyatt, on facing The Undertaker.
“I keep telling people I started the year and now I’m going to finish it at WrestleMania. So I’m like, ‘Oooh, it’s a lot of pressure.’ But I can’t wait. I’m excited. My mom’s going to be there, she’s going to be in the front row during my match. I’m so excited.” — Paige
“I just leave all the pressure to my dad and he can plan it all and I’ll just enjoy it.” — Stephanie McMahon-Levesque
“I have three older brothers, so we watched it when it was WWF. Hulk Hogan, of course, he’s amazing, Andre the Giant. We fell in love with just kind of the art of it.” — Eva Marie
“My goal is to not be the next anything, it’s to be the first Roman Reigns.” — Roman Reigns.
“He will lose at WrestleMania to the reigning, defending, undisputed WWE heavyweight champion of the world Brock Lesnar.” — Paul Heyman on Roman Reigns
“If you’ve ever heard anything about our family, it’s we’ve burned through some comps.” — Roman Reigns, who comes from a long line of wrestlers.
“I’m not a good guy, I’m the guy.” — Roman Reigns
“Coming out in an arena full of people who are all very supportive of me, it’s pretty surreal. I’ve wrestled in front 35 people, probably less.” — Daniel Bryan
“Toronto is my favourite city. Montreal’s the most beautiful city, but I love Toronto. But I can’t win a damn match in Toronto. I can’t win a match there.” — Hulk Hogan
“The hardest thing is being here and not wrestling. It’s just hard to be around all these guys and watch these matches and know how loud it is.” — Hulk Hogan