WWE is about to go beyond the Performance Center and right into the Thunderdome. After months of shows with limited crowds, WWE is attempting to bring fans back into the arena with virtual technology and unique set design. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, longtime WWE executive vice president of television production talked about exactly what that process looks like and how their plans can bring the spectacle back to WWE.
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. So when a big star like Drew McIntyre comes down to the ring, the whole arena will turn into his content with lasers, pyro, smoke, projections on the top of the building and on the floor. It will be a big, beautiful entrance, better than WrestleMania.
This means that not only will WWE fans be in on the action during matches, but the LEDs will be used as an arena wide entrance ramp, making the entire WWE presentation less like traditional sports and more like something you’d only previously see in a video game.
We won’t have a flat board, we’ll have rows and rows and rows of fans. 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.
Dunn does say that WWE will be piping in crowd sounds like the MLB has done recently, but it will mix in with virtual fans so that authentic reactions can be captured and presented just as they were in the before times.
We may have fans for certain entrances, standing up and cheering for the typical babyfaces. But someone like Bray Wyatt, who is so character-driven, the entire Amway Arena will be one big Fiend-dom. That’s our opportunity to be different from sports, where we can present these larger-than-life characters uniquely. This will be great for people watching at home across the globe, as well as the ones participating.
The Thunderdome will be a closed set once again, and WWE’s current partnership with the Amway Center is open-ended, meaning that WWE could be there until the end of 2020 or beyond. “This is going to be an interactive experience, and it’s something like I’ve never produced before. Producing the show is the best part of my job, and this is going to be a historic challenge for our team to pull off. We’re excited to pull it off.”