On December 28, 2015, the worlds of sports entertainment and sandwich shops collided in a previously unthinkable way. With one tweet, a small-time account by the name of @WWESubway would unwittingly cause an online sensation thanks to a joke about Subway’s Italian herb and cheese bread:
Yes, another absurd Internet phenomenon was born. But unlike flash-in-the-pan acts such as “The Dude Who Fucked a Hot Pocket,” Subway captions coupled with the endlessly funny expressions of characters like Vince McMahon and his cronies felt like something that had a longer shelf life. The mix of WWE GIFs mashed up with ruminations on spilling sauce on your arm, your 4/20 Subway order, or when the lead sandwich artist is making your sub seemed to humor people in the most unexpected way. It was odd, mundane, and so plainly clever without the cheapness of shock value—in other words, the perfect formula for creating a distinct brand of meme.
That’s no small accomplishment in today’s landscape of Fire Tweets. But what was the connection in the first place, and why were a handful of media outlets so smitten by the strange Twitter account? While former Subway spokesperson/current mega-creep Jared Fogle had been appearing on WWE programming since 2006, the pairing of five dollar foot-longs and professional wrasslin’ wasn't necessarily "natural." But through hundreds of tweets, @WWESubway struck a chord, resonating to heads who love a good clothesline, a turkey sandwich, or those who simply admire the Internet’s wild way of describing a litany of feels.
How did it all start? Here we caught up with Nick, one of the creative minds behind @WWESubway, to discuss the origins of the parody account, the process behind making Internet gold, and his go-to Subway order.
What was the motivation behind the account? What made you guys want to pair WWE fandom and eating at Subway?
The account started purely by accident. On my personal account (@ScorpionDong), I made a joke about walking out of the bathroom with the Vince McMahon strut. Matt, the other person who runs the account (@Paperwash), replied that I should do it while walking into Subway. I replied with a GIF of D'Lo Brown's entrance and we went back and forth from there. Eventually, we got a lot of other people joining in. It wasn't until December of last year that we decided to just make a dedicated account for fun.
What’s your day job? Does @WWESubway ever get in the way of your job/home life?
I manage an office for a family-owned oil service company. I wouldn't say WWESubway ever gets in the way. From time to time, I'll post from work, but not a ton of effort goes into the account. We only post a couple times a day, if that, and there are two of us. The hardest part is finding usable GIFs, but that usually doesn't take too long.
@WWESubway is currently sitting at over 61,000 followers. Was there one big break or retweet that resulted in an influx of new followers?
I'm not exactly sure what happened. One day we were showing a steady influx of new followers and then out of nowhere we started getting a ton of exposure. We started getting these mentions from Deadspin, Fox Sports, Mashable, Mandatory. It kind of just went uphill from there. Recently we were featured on Twitter's moments too.
What do you think it is about the account that’s resonated with fans of WWE and comedians like Ron Funches?
I think people like the absurdity. I also think people can relate. WWE has a very diverse and wide-reaching audience and so does Subway. I also think people love the juxtaposition of over the top WWE reactions paired with something as mundane as getting a sandwich at a fast-food restaurant.
Have any of you been in contact with anyone from the WWE or from professional wrestlers in general about the account?
When we first started, Joey Styles (WWE VP of Digital Media Content) was nice enough to give us a shout-out. That was pretty cool. Other than that, we haven't been in touch with anyone from WWE. Colt Cabana replied to us early on. A few pro wrestlers follow and have retweeted on occasion. I think the strangest and funniest thing would be that Shawn Michaels and Kevin Owens blocked us. We have no idea why, but I guess they aren't Subway fans.
What’s the process behind creating a good @WWESubway tweet? Will one of you come up with the caption/situation first then look for a GIF, or is it the other way around?
For the most part, I'd say we find the GIFs first. However, there are certain times where we'll think of a situation and try to match it. Now that Twitter allows GIFs in DMs, it's been much easier for us to share ideas.
Former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle has shown up on WWE programs in the past. Did the @WWESubway tweets change at all after learning about his scandal?
@WWESubway wasn't around when news of Jared broke, so we haven't changed. However, we never mention Jared, not just because of the terrible things he did, but also because we try to focus on what it's like to visit Subway.
The references on the account range from current wrestlers like Rusev throwing fish out of the ring to throwbacks like Akeem. How into the WWE are you guys? Are any of you watching Raw/Smackdown/NXT weekly?
Both of us have been watching wrestling for quite some time. I can only speak for myself specifically, but I started watching WWE around '88, '89. I stopped watching regularly around the time of the WCW/WWF Invasion. I do still catch PPVs and weekly programming when I can, but I mostly stay in the loop from Twitter and/or friends.
Any favorite matches or moments that stick out for you?
Of course I have to mention Macho versus Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat at Wrestlemania III. I wish I could have seen that one live. I also loved the Undertaker vs Mankind Hell in a Cell and the Dudley/Hardy/Christian-Edge TLC match at X-7.
What are your goals for @WWESubway?
Right now, we're just doing it because it's funny to us. When it stops being fun or funny, we'll stop.
What’s your go-to Subway order?
Depending on how I'm feeling, either a meatball or a turkey and ham. Always footlong. Italian herbs and cheese bread.