Canvas on canvas: Artists take on WWE icons

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November 15, 2012

Rob Schamberger

Artist Rob Schamberger paints WWE Legends.

In summer 2011, Kansas City–based artist Rob Schamberger had a bright idea. He was going to attempt to paint portraits of every World Champion in wrestling history.

“I thought that was narrowing it down,” Schamberger told WWE Classics with a laugh. “But with the different promotions I’m covering, it’ll be about 230 portraits when it’s all done.” 

A mammoth undertaking sure, but the light bulb of inspiration that flicked on above the painter’s head a year and a half ago has ended up changing his life. Inspired by CM Punk’s now infamous “pipe bomb” speech on the June 27, 2011, edition of Raw, the man who once specialized in paintings of pin-up girls put The Second City Savior on a canvas. Soon after, he announced his intentions to immortalize the ring’s greatest and received an overwhelming amount of support from wrestling fans and art collectors alike.

“I was working in a cubical for a corporation and feeling really frustrated at the time,” Schamberger said. “I was aiming to make the leap into doing art full-time with this project, which has happened. In the last six months, between gifts and commissions, I’ve done about 250 paintings.”

Now able to make his living as an artist, Schamberger has painted David Arquette for David Arquette, an image of Dino Bravo lifting weights for CM Punk’s home gym and a portrait of SmackDown commentator JBL that he was personally able to present to the former WWE Champion.

“Not only do I think it was my artistic best, but also on a sentimental level that piece really meant a lot to me,” the artist said. “Being able to spend the day with JBL at the [Dan Gable Wrestling Museum in Waterloo, Iowa] and find out what a great guy he was in person, how cool is that?”

Apart from “The Wrestling God,” Schamberger has completed portraits of a wide array of men who held World Titles, ranging from major WWE Superstars like Brock Lesnar and Dolph Ziggler to obscurities like Ali Baba and The Mighty Igor. Still, his mission continues.

“I’ve still got a couple hundred of these champion paintings to do,” Schamberger said. “Right now that’s my focus, but I’m sure I’ll do Mantaur sooner or later.”

To see more of Rob Schamberger's artwork, visit

Follow Rob on Twitter @robschamberger

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