The COVID-19 pandemic has forced WWE to make several changes to their programming and presentation, and they are taking a step further now with the introduction of virtual fans. WWE announced their exit from Performance Center and the move to Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.
WWE is referring to the stadium as WWE Thunderdome, and are expected to present their programming from the same stadium for the foreseeable future.
WWE’s Executive VP of TV Production, Kevin Dunn, recently talked with Sports Illustrated and gave several details on how the Thunderdome experience is going to be like. Dunn promised an experience that will be on par with WrestleMania, with pyros and smoke returning for entrances.
“We can now do things production-wise that we could never otherwise do. We’re flying drones in the arena, we are putting a roof inside the Amway Center, and we’ll be able to project content onto the roof.”
He also talked about virtual fans, and said that similar to NBA and MLB, the company will use the fans to provide reactions along with other stadium audio. The company will also use drones for varied camera-angles which will be used to provide a whole new presentation.
“We’ll have almost 1,000 LED boards, and it will recreate the arena experience you’re used to seeing with WWE. The atmosphere will be night and day from the Performance Center. This is going to let us have a WrestleMania-level production value, and that’s what our audience expects from us. We are also going to put arena audio into the broadcast, similar to baseball, but our audio will be mixed with the virtual fans. So when fans start chants, we’ll hear them.”
Dunn also said that the company will use over 1000 LED boards, so fans can expect a lit up Thunderdome on a weekly basis. With WWE moving back to live programming soon, they are leaving no stone unturned to produce quality shows.
RAW and SmackDown’s ratings have taken a major hit since the pandemic hit, and this could be WWE’s way to shake things up on television for the time being.
WWE also posted record revenues in Q2 of 2020, which will allow them to produce shows in a bigger scale with much more razzmatazz. The verdict will be reserved until the day of SummerSlam, but the build-up looks quite promising.