WWE debuted its ThunderDome experience last Friday with SmackDown. After a show to work out some kinks, the ThunderDome was open for business once again on Sunday for SummerSlam.
Fightful spoke with multiple fans regarding their ThunderDome experience, wondering how their experience differed from those watching at home and if it was worth it to enter.
Fightful was part of the ThunderDome test run on the Thursday before SmackDown and the biggest issue on that day was the call time. Fightful was given a 5:15 call time and by 6:00, "My House" by Flo Rida had been played roughly 138 times. Once the test run started, the experience was rather smooth, though those in the crowd were still images for a long stretch of time. The still images continued on Friday for SmackDown, but had largely seemed fixed by SummerSlam as the audience on the LED boards had more life.
However, call times were still an issue for some on Sunday.
"Getting in was frustrating. They sent me a link earlier and gave me a call time at 8 PM Eastern. I opened it on time but was given the 'full capacity link,'" said user @Vx1AlyxsWorld. "I had to refresh for 15 minutes until it finally let me in."
User @whamdawson4567 had a far more frustrating experience, saying, "I was emailed information about the ThunderDome itself and what to do when my call time comes. My call time was slotted at 7:30, so I was obviously very excited. Around this time, the match between Vega Boys & Street Profits was going on. However, I didn’t get to even see this match due to the fact that it took so long to even get into the ThunderDome itself. In fact, I had to refresh my page numerous times until I got a “Click to Enter” link on the main page. Once I entered, I cheered, I clapped, and I even had “signs” made out of notecards. However, this experience was short lived. After only 2 minutes, I was told that my session had expired."
He continued by saying he was not able to re-enter and was given no reason for why he was booted, even after contacting WWE support.
WWE has said the most vocal and supportive fans would remain in the ThunderDome and while there's no real proof of this being the case, fans definitely had different experiences as to how long they could stay.
User @TashaXXRollins said she was able to get in and stay in the entire night. User @Vx1AlyxsWorld said they were kicked out after 30 minutes, with no reason given as to why. Multiple users believed internet connectivity issues could have led to the reason why they were booted, but again, not concrete reason was given.
User @JoshKirsch5 was also booted, but the reason might be clear.
"My time was supposed to be 9 pm, but when I logged on at about 8:45 it said that it was it was full, but then I saw Warren Hayes tweet about having to refresh it so I did and that took about 15 minutes before letting me on. It was terribly glitchy and it was very hard to see because I didn’t get there early (obviously) and so I was put in the back. I was screaming my head off and heard nothing in the arena, and I could barely see and the glitchiness was really detracting from my viewing experience and so I thought putting my thumbs down for Drew would be entertaining and funny for myself and two seconds later… boom! I’m kicked out of the Thunderdome. So yeah, it wasn’t that fun," he said.
The viewing experience inside the ThunderDome is similar to what fans would see on television, meaning no singular point of view. Multiple users said they were given direction on who to cheer and boo.
User @johnnyislegend said, "Honestly it was much better then my experience being in the thunderdome for smackdown. I had no lag issues and the feed was smooth. Saw myself a couple of times on the screen. No issues getting on at all. Got on right at my call time with no issues and stayed connected for over hours. I really liked it honestly. Makes you feel connected as much as you can be. Plus it’s fun to try and see yourself on the screen. I hope to do it more in future honestly."
Other users shared the same sentiment as @johnnyislegend, saying they would enter the ThunderDome again as it made them feel connected to other fans and the WWE product once again.
WWE will be holding events in the ThunderDome for until at least October as they signed a two-month agreement with the Amway Center.
Pikachu did not return Fightful's request for comment.