WWE artist Rob Schamberger living the dream
By Mike Pankow
March 29, 2019
From a kid growing up in Kansas City to working for WWE as its official artist in residence, Rob Schamberger has come a long way.
Ever since picking up his first comic book when he was 7 years old, Schamberger was hooked.
“I was like, ‘OK. I want to do this. I want to be a person that makes something like this,’ ” he said last week at C2E2. “That’s where the whole desire to be an artist started. I always planned for success. I had it in my mind that I’m going to be the biggest artist in the world. I didn’t expect things to take off as fast as they did when I started with the wrestling art.”
Schamberger stopped by C2E2 last weekend for the first time even though he’s been in Chicago for other conventions such as Wizard World.
“This is my first time (at C2E2). I am a big fan of Chicago,” Schamberger said. “I come here fairly often, once or twice a year.”
Schamberger shared the story of how he got linked up with WWE after meeting wrestling legends at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Waterloo, Iowa.
“I was exhibiting my work (there),” Schamberger said. “I met Gerry Brisco and Jim Ross there and stayed in touch with them. Eventually, Jim Ross made the call to Triple H’s office and said ‘We need to work with this guy.’ That got everything going.”
He has been working in conjunction with WWE for six years and has produced hundreds of portraits and pieces of artwork, many of which are on sale at WWEShop.com. His work has also been included with some recent Mattel WWE Elite Action figures as well as in WWE comic books and T-shirts.
Schamberger is proud of all of his work, but one piece he did really hit close to his heart. He did a painting of the Ultimate Warrior with Connor “the Crusher” Michalek, a young WWE superfan who died of cancer in April 2014. WWE created the Warrior Award in Ultimate Warrior’s honor in 2015 and Michalek was the first recipient of the honor.
Schamberger was in attendance at the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the SAP Center in San Jose prior to WrestleMania 31 and presented the Michalek family with the portrait after Dana Warrior and Michalek’s father gave their speeches in the arena.
“I was really happy with the painting itself, but the emotion around that, I don’t know that anything will replace that in my heart by any means,” he said.
Schamberger got into wrestling as a kid, but it took some time before he had a chance to see it as he grew up a single-mother household that had just one TV.
“I think wresting was on at the same time as ‘Murder, She Wrote’ or something, so I didn’t get to watch it,” he said.
But when his mother remarried, the door swung open.
“My stepfather was a wrestling fan back in the 60s and 70s. He would go to watch Harley Race and Bulldog Bob Brown and those guys. One night I was there doing laundry and he was flipping through the channels and it landed on Ric Flair doing a promo, and it was ‘Bam, I get it.’ I heard the angels’ choir. Ric talked me into the building.”
Schamberger quickly became a fan thanks to the “Nature Boy” and has been ever since.
As for today’s WWE, he excitedly spoke about the Women’s Revolution and how wrestlers like Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks and Bayley were among his favorites. He also speaks glowingly of Mia Yim and Bianca Belair in NXT.
“Everyone’s killing it,” Schamberger said. “It’s really an exciting time.”
When asked about a potential weekly WWE women’s show, he responded: “I don’t think it should be a separate show. I think that the fans should continue to dictate what they want. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the next face of WWE be a woman’s face. Hairs are standing up on my arm just talking about that.”