Kevin Dunn reveals more details on new WWE TV set debuting Friday, thanks fans for sticking around during below par production in recent months

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor


The following are key highlights of WWE’s executive vice president of television production Kevin Dunn’s interview with Sports Illustrated today regarding WWE’s new production set-up at Amway Center on this Friday’s episode of WWE Smackdown on Fox. Like the Global Wrestling Federation in the early 1990s running its TV at the Sportatorium in Dallas, Tex., but dubbing it the “Global Dome,” WWE has christened the new set-up at Amway Center in Orlando, Fla. the “WWE ThunderDome.”

•“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,” said Dunn. “Moving to Amway, and unveiling the ThunderDome, the opportunities are limitless.”

•“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.”

•“Like the 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 a thousand 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.”

•“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.”

•“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.”

•“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 said the setting without the general public in attendance could last until the end of the year. The current deal with Amway Center is through the end of October, though.

READ MORE AT SI: WWE Turning Orlando’s Amway Center Into ‘WWE ThunderDome’ for TV Production Going Forward

RECOMMENDED: WWE announces new ThunderDome TV set for Raw, Smackdown, PPVs, details inclusion of fans at events virtually, partners with new live event production company

1 Comment on Kevin Dunn reveals more details on new WWE TV set debuting Friday, thanks fans for sticking around during below par production in recent months

  1. This is an idea with incredible potential. WWE could offer virtual house shows every night they aren’t on regular TV, on The Network at a reasonable cost. It would allow them to re-hire performers, establish new stars and most importantly make some money they aren’t making now. With a return to a normal business model impossible to predict at this point, this may well be the business model to follow for some time to come.

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