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Although not officially announced yet, all signs point toward WWE holding Summerslam at Amway Center, a nearly 20,000 seat arena in Orlando, Fla. Also, WWE plans to hold Raw and Smackdown live at that venue for the foreseeable future starting the day after Summerslam. An Orlando city spokeswoman confirmed to the Orlando Sentinel that WWE was negotiating with Amway Center. Summerslam would be the first event at the arena since a March 10 concert.
Jon Alba from Orlando’s Spectrum News 13 posted a photo of WWE production trucks parking outside Amway Center taken by his colleagues.
— Jon Alba (@JonAlba) August 14, 2020
WWE is planning to add a computer-generated crowd similar to what Fox is doing with Major League Baseball games. The rest of the set-up is still a mystery, so it may or may not continue to include wrestlers and trainees behind plexiglass at ringside. It surely will include grander ring entrances and a larger set, and perhaps simulated crowd noise (which is more of a challenge when broadcasting live compared to post-producing the show). The general public, at this point, will not be invited into the venue.
In an exclusive interview with PWTorch.com, former WWE Producer and Creative Team member Chris DeJoseph talked about the initial meetings on how to present WWE TV without an audience when the pandemic first led to all live touring events being cancelled.
“When the pandemic first hit, we knew we were going to go down to Florida to start shooting” he told me yesterday in an hour-and-a-half interview that will be posted for PWTorch members later today. “Obviously, this is going to be a different process. We don’t even know if we would be able to have wrestlers wrestle each other. Are we going to do cooking segments? They asked all of us to run down a list of outside-of-the-box ideas of things that we could do. It was a huge compiled list. It was everything from have a big fight in the office to a cooking segment if we have to. Do we have everyone on Zoom from home? There were so many ideas because nobody knew what we were going to be able to do.
“There was a lot of discussion about getting fans on screen watching the show and reacting,” he said. “It started with Smackdown, and Fox had just tried it with a NASCAR race, and they didn’t feel it was worth doing. After going through all the trouble, they didn’t think the payoff really affected the show all that much. And you really can’t control what the audience reaction is. Also, eventually those shows we started doing in advance and it kind of became impossible to do something like that. There were also sorts of ideas [considered], like live Twitter reactions,” he said, but ultimately Vince McMahon decided it wasn’t worth the trouble.
“Everything was thrown against the wall,” he said, including simulations of fans with a green screen at the P.C. or using augmented reality technology already being used for Smackdown’s virtual billboard and other wrestler entrance graphics such as Asuka’s. “There was talk of animated fans. Nobody really knows what we’re doing here because it’s a whole new world. You’re watching other shows and seeing how they’re handling it. There was an idea – I threw an idea out there to have legends come on and do taped segments with them to add some newness to the show. We didn’t know if [the wrestlers would] even be allowed to wrestle each other at that point.” He said there was talk of CGI fans and someone talked about hologram fans. “We’re talking about a big budget at that point,” he said. He said there was early talk of putting writers and crew in the audience.
Be the first to listen to the fascinating behind-the-scenes full hour-and-a-half interview later today when it’s posted exclusively for PWTorch VIP members. We are running a sale this month, bringing the price of VIP membership for a full month down to just 99 cents. (Details HERE.)
This interview, conducted yesterday afternoon, is the most comprehensive behind-the-scenes first-person detailed account of the tumultuous first half of 2020 and the adjustments they were forced to make due to the pandemic, including the Roman Reigns withdrawal and replacement by Braun Strowman.
He also talks about Bruce Prichard taking on a larger role after Paul Heyman was removed as Raw Director, and his thoughts on Prichard’s style and approach.
He also detailed working with Vince McMahon in 2020 compared to 2004-2010, the last time he was with the company, and why he didn’t want to stay long-term this time around.
All of that and much more.
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Listen to an early preview snippet of this exclusive interview with DeJoseph speaking about working with Vince McMahon in 2020 compared to 2010.