In a new interview with Cynopsis Media WWE Executive Producer Kevin Dunn discussed the origins and the challenges presented by the ThunderDome.
It became obvious throughout March as numerous sports leagues suspended seasons and went into lockdown that WWE would be unable to have fans present at their events. Wrestlemania went ahead without any fans present, and weekly episodes of Raw and SmackDown were moved to the WWE Performance Center. However, with WWE still keen to keep fans involved, the ThunderDome concept was born on 21st August.
Dunn explained that after researching what other sports leagues were doing, WWE needed to go in their own direction.
“During months of testing and learning and listening to our fans, we were experimenting with new ways to add more energy into our live shows. We looked at what other leagues were doing, but we ultimately wanted to do something that was right for us and right for our fans.
We knew we had to innovate, think outside the box, and recreate the in-arena atmosphere and interactive experience that is synonymous with WWE events. But do it virtually. Our world-class WWE TV production team had a specific vision, and designed and executed WWE ThunderDome, which launched on August 21, in advance of SummerSlam. A state-of-the-art set, video boards, pyrotechnics, lasers, cutting-edge graphics and drone cameras. A true spectacle. To date, nearly 300,000 WWE fans from around the world have registered to be a part of WWE ThunderDome.”
Dunn went on to explain that the biggest challenge that this created was implementing so much new technology on such a large scale.
“I think the biggest challenge was just trying to reimagine our weekly flagship programming with a new technology that, we believe, has never been implemented before at this scale. Everything had to be reassessed as we were planning to launch ThunderDome. In testing, traditional camera shots were making the virtual fans look flat. Our entire lighting and production design had to be reimagined from the ground up.
We have a great team that had to reinvent themselves, and their day to day responsibilities, in order to come up with something as innovative as WWE ThunderDome.”
He also later reveals that “in a post pandemic world I would expect to see our live shows draw heavily from our ThunderDome learnings.”