WWE's upcoming television shows and pay-per-views will be unlike anything its fans have seen before. WWE ThunderDome, a state-of-the-art set that will be utilized for all of its major broadcasts, is set to be introduced on Friday, Aug. 21 as the company takes up residency at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, for the foreseeable future amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
WWE ThunderDome will feature "video boards, pyrotechnics, lasers, cutting-edge graphics and drone cameras" along with "massive LED boards" that will place fans into the Amway Center virtually and provide those watching at home with an "unprecedented" viewing experience. The NBA has been injecting virtual fans into its broadcasts since the introduction of the bubble, and the NFL is considering similar technology this season.
The new set will be utilized for Monday Night Raw, Friday Night SmackDown and all WWE PPVs, while NXT and its special NXT TakeOver events will continue to emanate from its weekly home at Full Sail University in Orlando.
"WWE has a long history of producing the greatest live spectacles in sports and entertainment, yet nothing compares to what we are creating with WWE ThunderDome," said WWE executive vice president Kevin Dunn. "This structure will enable us to deliver an immersive atmosphere and generate more excitement amongst the millions of fans watching our programming around the world."
The company has been running its non-NXT programming out of the WWE Performance Center in Orlando since March as the coronavirus has prevented WWE and other types of sports and entertainment from traveling and having live crowds watch their shows. Though the venue was not build for television production, WWE retrofitted the Performance Center over a number of weeks to present its product in the best manner possible.
Nevertheless, the Performance Center's limited size and ceiling height made many standard features of WWE's programming -- including large sets and pyro -- impossible to utilize. It is believed the Performance Center will be reorganized back to serve its original purpose as a training center for WWE superstars and developmental facility for up-and-coming talent.
With WWE moving into the Amway Center, it will keep a closed set with only essential personnel in attendance at events. "WWE will continue to administer its health and safety protocols for talent, crew and employees in conjunction with each production, including PCR testing for COVID-19, social distancing and wearing masks," the company wrote in a release.
It is unknown whether the developmental talent that had been utilized as fans during the Performance Center shows will be part of a crowd in the WWE ThunderDome.
WWE has teamed up with The Famous Group, a company well known for using LED screens and augmented reality to enhance sports events and concerts, to create WWE ThunderDome. Its goal is to "virtually bring our fans back into the show and recreate the interactive in-arena atmosphere that has been a stable of WWE events for decades," according to WWE CMO Brian Flinn.
Beginning Monday night, fans can register for a "virtual seat" on WWEThunderDome.com as well as WWE's social media pages.