Kevin Dunn details how WWE's new ThunderDome setup will bring about extravagant entrances that are on par, if not better, than WrestleMania.
WWE’s executive vice president of television production spoke with Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated to discuss the company's move from the Performance Center to the Amway Center. However, WWE won't just be moving to the Amway Center, but also create new experience for fans, including LED boards featuring virtual fans. Among the visual changes that the move will have is content being projected to the venue's roof as well as drones being flown in the arena, things that Dunn believes will have
“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," Dunn said.
The ThunderDome will also include virtual fans, which is similar to what the NBA is doing with its bubble, but it won't be an exact setup. Dunn details the differences between both companies' plans for virtual fans and stated that the production value will be at a WrestleMania level.
“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 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," Dunn said
The first WWE show at the Amway Center will be the August 21 episode of SmackDown with the next one being SummerSlam on August 23. For a full list of matches for SummerSlam, click here.