I don’t always have a lot to post gear-wise, as you can see, unless it really captures my attention, so if you have requests about what you want spotlighted, or talked about, or what my favorite of something is, send them in.
@TheBrandiRhodes:Surprise rookie gift from @CodyRhodesWWE. Guess I traded heels for boots. TRAINING begins Monday @WWE @WWEPerformCtr
The team at Main Event Gear create trunks, shorts, singlets and other items of in-ring apparel for some of the biggest names in the business. The company was founded by former competitors Robert Adams and Patrick Bentley, who avoided paying for expensive ring gear whilst competing on the independent circuit by making their own. Now, alongside Robert’s sister, the pair design pieces for performers in the WWE, TNA and numerous other promotions from their base of operations in the tiny provincial town of Pisagh, Alabama. We caught up with Robert to find out more about his craft.
Q. So, Robert, exactly how did you become involved in making ring gear for professional wrestlers?
A. Ultimately, the decision was born out of my temper getting the best of me. My tag partner TC Carnage and I had just done a show out of Atlanta as part of a promotion called NWA Wildside. We competed every Friday for their TV tapings, but on one occasion we were being jobbed out to wrestlers who only showed up there every six months. After that, I said I was done and shredded my brand new singlet out of frustration. After I calmed down, I thought “good job, idiot” and borrowed my mom’s sewing machine to fix it. It was comparing the stitches on my singlet to what was on her sewing machine that got me started on this journey.
Above: A look inside Main Event Gear’s studio
Q. In the early days, how did you set about finding work?
A. Gaining clientele is extremely hard when you’re just starting out. Luckily, we started taking on our friends from Wildside, and word began to spread that we were good and cheap. But selling your gear cheap is the biggest mistake you could ever make, because once you do so, everyone will want you to stay at the same price. This is a competitive market when it comes to pricing. A lot of people will make gear for nearly nothing just to get someone to wear it. But when it comes to quality, it’s not so competitive. Being able to cut vinyl and press it on to pleather does not mean you can make gear. And yes, a computer plotter can give you very detailed designs, but have you crafted the rest of the outfit correctly? Here, the majority of our designs are all hand done. We do have a vinyl machine, but it is rarely ever used.
Q. What was your first job?
A. I’m not sure who the first independent guys were. I would like to say it was Ace Rockwell and Shaun Tempers, who we knew from when we were at Wildside. But our first WWE guys were Mike Knox, Derrick Neikirk and Ryan O’Reilly, who we came across when the developmental programme was still in Atlanta. After doing their gear, MVP called me asking us to make something for him. And it kinda took off from there.
Q. Of all the pieces you have worked on since, which has been your favourite?
A. I enjoy making Daniel Bryan’s jackets, or his robe for WrestleMania XXVIII. All his gear is designed by an amazing artist named Jill Thompson, who is the creator of Scary Godmother and a former DC Comics artist. She sketches all of his gear and sends it over to us. When she first sent us the robe design, we knew it was going to be a challenge, but we were up for it.
Above: Daniel Bryan makes his way to the ring at WrestleMania XXVIII, resplendent in a robe created by Main Event Gear. Image from wwe.com
Q. Speaking of challenges, which piece has been the most difficult to create?
A. When Shelton Benjamin was with WWE, the office wanted him to wear a cape, which never made in on to TV. I had to remake the thing about eight times. I knew the material it was to be made from was just the wrong choice right from the beginning, but I saw it through and eventually the office signed off on it.
Q. How long does each piece take to complete?
A. It depends on what it is. Something like Kofi Kingston’s tights will take about one-and-a-half days. We’ve done so many for him now that it just comes naturally to us. Other pieces can take considerably longer. Fandago’s takes us about four days to complete, and gear for the Diva’s tends to take a while due to everything you have to do to it.
Above: Fandango’s ballroom dancing-inspired outfit was also designed by Robert and his team. Image from wwe.com
The first step you take is figuring out exactly what your doing for the client. If you don’t have a pattern for them then you have to make one, and hope they have their measurements correct! Translating someone’s character into their gear can prove to be difficult. Of course, all the WWE guys are easy to do, but it tends to be more complicated with the guys in the independents. So many people will see something they think looks cool and just want to slap it onto a set of gear. It’s not uncommon for us to look at something in bewilderment and just say, “what is this?!”
Above: WWE Superstars and Main Event Gear customers Kofi Kingston, Mark Henry, Cody Rhodes and Jimmy Uso in action. Images from wwe.com
Q. What do you think are the most important things to consider when designing ring gear?
A. Guys need to look at themselves and think “who am I?” They also need to be able to take constructive criticism. Just because they think something looks good on paper, it will not always turn out the way they think. Their look also needs to be marketable and able to sell merchandise.
Q. In your opinion, what is greatest piece of ring gear of all time?
A. The Undertaker’s ring jackets! I know the lady who makes them, and she is so super talented. At every WrestleMania I am in awe at what he wears. Seeing what everyone wears to WrestleMania is the only reason I get the pay-per-view.
Q. Who would you like to work with next?
A. Come one, come all! We don’t have any specific person we’d like to work with. We just strive to make the best there is out there. We put the same amount of effort and quality into indy gear that we do pieces for our WWE clients.
Q. Finally, what projects have you currently got in the pipeline?
At the moment we are working on some stuff for the next pay-per-view and the upcoming European tour. We’re also doing some Diva gear, which is something we’ve not done in a while. We do have a project we’ve been thinking about venturing into, but I can’t really discuss it at this stage. We’ve been doing all of this alongside building a larger shop to work out of.