WWE Orlando promises (thunder) ing bouts


WWE in Orlando Image: MJR Group Ltd./Coliseum

After basing its television production out of the World Wresting Entertainment (WWE) Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, since March, WWE is moving to Orlando’s NBA arena and plans to cash in on features not available at their previous site.

WWE has made an official announcement that their SummerSlam (2020) is taking place at the Amway Center in Orlando, US.

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is an American integrated media and entertainment company that is primarily known for professional wrestling. WWE has also branched out into other fields, including movies, football, and various other business ventures.

WWE will also take residency in the Amway Center in the near future, holding Raw, SmackDown – both American professional wrestling television program, and pay-per-views in the building, which will be renamed the WWE ThunderDome.

Kevin Dunn, WWE’s Executive Vice-President of Television Production, confirmed the news, “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.”

The new setting will be unveiled on August 21st on SmackDown, complete with pyrotechnics, drone cameras, and video boards.

Added Dunn, “We can now do things production-wise that we could never otherwise do. We are flying drones in the arena, we are putting a roof inside the Amway Center, and we will 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.”

WWE programing has missed the electrifying environment provided by a live crowd, and the shows at the Amway Center will feature virtual fans via live video on LED boards. WWE has teamed up with the fan experience company Famous Group to bolster its in-arena atmosphere, an element that has struggled amidst empty arena shows amid the coronavirus pandemic which has the United States in its fatal grip. Beginning during Raw, people may register for their virtual seat at www.WWEThunderDome.com.

“Like the National Basketball Association (NBA), we’re doing virtual fans, but we’re also creating an arena-type atmosphere. 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,” Dunn informed.

“We may have fans for certain entrances, standing up and cheering for the typical baby face. 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,” he continued.

The venue will be a closed set, and Dunn confirmed that WWE will continue to mandate COVID-19 testing, social distancing, and wearing face covers when off-camera.

“We’re going to have a very tight set that is focused on safety for our performers. Everyone is going to be tested all the time. It’s really important that our performers feel safe,” Dunn asserted.

There is still no plan in place to bring supporters back into the venue, which is why Dunn stated there is the potential to remain at the Amway Center through the end of the year.

He informed, “It’s open-ended. Obviously, we want to get back in the live event business. We rely so much on our fans. The Amway people have been fantastic to work with, and we look forward to staying as long as it takes.”

After 38 years of television work in WWE, this is an entirely new experience for Dunn and his production team.

Remarked a full of beans Dunn, “If you asked me a year ago, I’d have said we’ve done everything. But 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.”

Strikingly similar to pro sports, WWE’s shows have not been the same without crowds. Dunn is optimistic that the ThunderDome experience will add a significant exciting quotient to the WWE product.

He noted, “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, its back.’”

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