Earlier today, WWE announced WWE ThunderDome, a new "viewing experience" at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. The new set will include drones, pyrotechnics, lasers, LED boards and "cutting-edge graphics."
WWE Executive Vice President of Television Production Kevin Dunn recently sat down for an interview with Justin Barrasso at Sports Illustrated to discuss ThunderDome.
During their conversation, Dunn admitted it had been difficult for the company at the Performance Center as it was "impossible" to put on a spectacle at the training facility. He did thank fans for sticking with them, however.
He said: "When people think of WWE, most think of the spectacle that we are, but it was just impossible to put on a spectacle in the Performance Center. Moving to Amway, and unveiling the ThunderDome, the opportunities are limitless."
He later added: "We're grateful and so appreciate the fans are hanging with us. It's been tough. The shows haven't been what we'd like them to be, and we'd be dishonest saying anything else. We miss our fans. Our fans make our shows. Without them, it's been really challenging. I can't wait to see the ThunderDome full of 1,000 people, giving us the energy we need to make this as entertaining as possible. I think people watching and participating are really going to enjoy this, and it's going to make people say, 'Wow, WWE, it's back.'"
Dunn also provided additional details about ThunderDome and revealed WWE will have rows of virtual fans in the arena by using close to 1000 LED boards. Chants from the virtual fans will also be sweetened by piping arena audio into the broadcast.
"Like the NBA, we're doing virtual fans, but we're also creating an arena-type atmosphere," the WWE EVP said. "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. 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.
"We start on Friday on SmackDown, and it will be a learning experience. We have two days of testing, and we're going to practice like hell, then we're off to the races. 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."