The Beckett Blog


We go behind the scenes with WWE Magazine as it offers up 26 ways to celebrate WrestleMania by Chris Olds

By CHRIS OLDS | Beckett Media

With the world’s biggest stage for sports entertainment — WrestleMania XXVI — just nine days away, the staff of WWE Magazine opted for something special with its latest issue, a project that shows just how big the “grandest stage of them all” really is.

It’s not quite an irresistible force or an immovable object a la WrestleMania III with Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant, but it’s pretty darn close — and it’s something that fans and collectors should enjoy.

What is it?

There are 26 different covers for the April issue, which will be on newsstands by March 23, just days before WrestleMania takes over Glendale, Ariz., on March 28.

Subscribers will get copies with “Mr. WrestleMania,” Shawn Michaels, on the cover, a fitting selection since his career will be on the line at the event. If Michaels loses his re-match against Undertaker, who has never lost in 17 career bouts at ‘Mania, then he will retire, ending his 25-year career.

We caught up with WWE Magazine Assistant Editor Jeff Ashworth via Twitter and lined up some behind-the-scenes information about how this project came about.

Read all about who appears on the covers, see a full gallery of images and get the dirt-sheet defeating inside scoop on the project after the jump.

Besides Michaels, the 25 other cover subjects are:

John Cena, Triple H, Rey Mysterio, Undertaker, Batista, Randy Orton, Edge, Chris Jericho, Big Show, CM Punk, Sheamus, The Miz, Kofi Kingston, Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase Jr., Drew McIntyre, John Morrison, Christian, Bret Hart, Evan Bourne, Kane, Jack Swagger, MVP, R-Truth and Santino Marella.

We’re bummed that there’s no cover for Divas Champion Maryse in the bunch, but here’s our Q&A on the project with Ashworth …

Beckett Media: How long was this project in the works — and who was its brainchild, or how did it come about?

Ashworth: Six months in the making. The April issue is always a big one for us because it coincides with WrestleMania, so it’s essentially one of the most important issues of the year. When discussing how we could really make a splash with the mag, the idea came out of those talks.

Beckett: Does a larger project like this happen to involve Vince McMahon’s input/approval in any way?

Ashworth: Anything of this magnitude goes through Vince for sure, but another unique fact is that Vince approves every cover, and typically has options to choose from. So in the end there were more than 26 covers designed, probably twice that number [mocked up], and he signed off on all of them. He’s a busy guy, but he makes the time for stuff like his. He’s an incredibly hands-on CEO.

Beckett: Since the Shawn Michaels cover is only going to subscribers, will the rest be printed in equal quantities?

Ashworth: Most of the Superstars are printed equally and all were distributed equally across the U.S. Some covers have more copies because they’re the ones that are available internationally. All 26 covers are only available in the U.S.

Beckett: Logistically, how much more of a challenge does this create for the process of putting out a magazine? (We’ve done an alternate cover or two before on occasion, but not 25 extras …)

Ashworth: Logistically, it’s a nightmare. It’s nearly impossible. Designing 26 separate covers is time-consuming — somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 hours. But that’s just the beginning. We used three different distribution centers, and each issue was hand-fed into the sorting machines before they could be collated. Then they were hand-sorted to ensure that each palette of magazines had exactly the number of each cover that we wanted it to have. This way the folks in Boise, Idaho, don’t end up with all the Evan Bourne covers … and instead get a nice mix of all 26 Superstars. The difficulty of the distributing is also why all 26 aren’t available in other countries. The covers available in the UK/Canada are John Cena, Triple H, Rey Mysterio and Undertaker. Sorry Bret Hart fans.

Beckett: I noticed on a recent Raw broadcast that one of its “Did You Know” segments said “WWE Magazine is the No. 1 sports magazine sold in Walmart.” This kind of cool promotion will certainly help those numbers as collectors try to chase them all. Will there be any other way for fans to try and get them all later down the line? (Order online, back issues, etc.?)

Ashworth: Certainly — and it is possible to travel around the country and track down all 26 covers. You can also buy back issues of our magazine online at backissues.wwe.com,  and we’ll have all 26 available for purchase. The final note here is that we’ll be giving away full sets in the future, and some of them will be autographed by each superstar … which is pretty sweet.

Beckett: Since WWE Magazine’s relaunch/redesign in 2006, you guys have consistently added cool extras like posters to go with some top-of-the line visuals and design – definitely WWE-caliber, but quite different than wrestling magazines of the past. Any memorable past projects or items like this come to mind as highlights like this? (Or does this one stand alone in its uniqueness?)

Ashworth: Two that immediately come to mind happened back-to-back. The first is the signed headshot promotion, which we did in February. It was rough because those were hand-inserted into the magazines after they’d been signed by four different superstars and then they were poly-bagged.

The second contest was the Golden Ticket promotion in March, where we gave away five golden tickets to WrestleMania — the legal issue of giving away trips is a hurdle, and getting Vince to give away five tickets to anything is a hard sell. Then those had to be hand-inserted as well, and then bagged — plus security was involved because of the value of each prize. But the 26 covers was a unique undertaking, and it’s the first of its kind in publishing … we’re psyched about it.

Beckett: Any chance you guys will bring back perforated trading card sheets in the magazine? Those were a staple for a stretch of time in previous years – and many a star, including Triple H – made their trading card debuts that way.

Ashworth: It’s certainly a possibility, but at present I can’t say for sure.

Beckett: Anything else you’d like to add?

Ashworth: Just that we hope people are as excited about this as we are. It took a lot of work, a half a year’s worth of planning, and a commitment to doing something as over-the-top as WrestleMania is going to be. … I’m happy to share that our next special issue will hit newsstands soon. It’s a poster special with some kickin’ art, and you’ll want to get your hands on it.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

COVER GALLERY COURTESY OF WWE MAGAZINE (CLICK FOR A CLOSER LOOK.)


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12 Comments so far
Leave a comment

It’s pretty messed up that Matt Hardy didn’t get on one of the covers. But Santino did? What’s up with that?

Comment by Jen

Matt hardy didn’t get a cover but santino did? does anyone else see how messed up that is. I didn’t even think santino had a match at wrestle mania!!!

Comment by cordelia

oh even shelton benjamin would be a better choice than santino. Or maybe a DIVA can get cover that isnt all about sex appeal.

Comment by cordelia

It is messed up that Matt Hardy isn’t on any. Santino? Bull. Way to say f*** you WWE.

Comment by Jessica

Matt Hardy needs to be on this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11111

Comment by U kno

WWE just won’t go away. Vince McMahon must’ve made a deal with the devil. bret hart is over 50 years old, why is he still wrasling?

Comment by President Obama

[…] The Beckett Blog has an interview with WWE Magazine Assistant Editor Jeff Ashworth talking about the planning and process that went into publishing the 26 covers for next month’s magazine. They mention that subscribers will get the Shawn Michaels cover, and all the 26 covers will only be distributed within the US. In UK and Canada, the only covers available are John Cena, Triple H, Rey Mysterio and Undertaker. So Canadians wont be able to get the Bret Hart, Chris Jericho, Edge or Christian covers. Click here to check it out. […]

Pingback by WWE Magazine 26 WrestleMania Covers, Hardy’s Comment on Matt Not on Cover | Wrestling Daily

[…] You can read an article about the special issue of the magazine here. […]

Pingback by WWE Magazine/Wallpapers | Shawn Michaels Web

wrestling rocks!

Comment by david

wresting rocks!

Comment by david

Can i have a backissue.

Comment by david

26 covers was a great idea for fans and collectors.

Comment by catchfan




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