The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the nature of a lot of different businesses. While many corporations have thrived as a result of this widespread illness (we're looking at you, Amazon), others aren't so lucky, like those that earn big bucks from live viewership. The WWE is one of those businesses and has had to adjust its model accordingly, like centralizing its shows in a specific location and welcoming the advent of virtual fans.
That's right, the WWE's hopping on the virtual fans bandwagon.
While it might seem like a weird solution, it's infinitely weirder to watch sporting events without throngs of faces peering at the action from the stands. It's something that I personally thought I'd be able to get used to, but after several UFC pay-per-views and multiple RAW and SmackDown episodes, it was still striking me as "weird" that there wasn't anybody "watching" the action from the outside.
Other pro sports have managed to incorporate the virtual fan experience in a variety of interesting ways. The MLB decided it would put cardboard cutouts in the seats instead of streaming video of people's faces surrounding the players. And while it seems like a weird movie gaffe at first, it actually ended up being incredible. I mean, look above at what this Chicago White Sox fan did.
How do you become a WWE virtual fan?
I know, after seeing the above clip, you're probably furiously searching for any printing company that'll be able to produce mass quantities of your mug in the fastest amount of time possible, but the WWE virtual fan experience is completely different and that's thanks to the fact that the organization has adjusted its business model to take up "residency" in the Amway Center, aka the "Thunderdome."
Because it doesn't really make sense for the organization to travel from stadium to stadium and setting up a new light and screen every time, especially since it's not like they're securing a live attendance gate. So, the WWE figured they'd pick a permanent home for all of their shows until this COVID-19 stuff is over and in the meantime, they can go all-out and have a fixed spectacle venue that'll blow people's minds.
And that includes a ginormous screen that can be filled with virtual fans. So, how do you sign up to become a member of the virtual audience cheering your favorite superstars and jeering the heels who are either distracting the referees or tossing steel chairs into the squared circle? It's easy: just hit up the WWE social media pages: @WWE on Twitter and Instagram, or head on over to the Thunderdome's website here.
WWE's schedule of events for August:
NXT shows will still take place at Full Sail, but RAW and SmackDown will be at Amway. Here's the list of events fans can look forward to:
• Friday, Aug. 21 – Friday Night SmackDown®, Amway Center, 8 p.m. ET on FOX
• Saturday, Aug. 22 – NXT TakeOver® XXX, Full Sail Live, 7 p.m. ET on WWE Network
• Sunday, Aug. 23 – SummerSlam, Amway Center, 7 p.m. ET on WWE Network
WWE ThunderDome, featuring a state-of-the-art set, video boards, pyrotechnics, lasers, cutting-edge graphics and drone cameras, takes WWE fans’ viewing experience to an unprecedented level starting Friday on #SmackDown, kicking off #SummerSlam Weekend! https://t.co/24IrawOj8a— WWE (@WWE) August 17, 2020
And here are the others to round out August:
• Monday, Aug. 24 – Monday Night Raw®, Amway Center, 8 p.m. ET on USA Network
• Wednesday, Aug. 26 – NXT®, Full Sail Live, 8 p.m. ET on USA Network
• Friday, Aug. 28 – Friday Night SmackDown, Amway Center, 8 p.m. ET on FOX
• Sunday, Aug. 30 – Payback®, Amway Center, 7 p.m. ET on WWE Network
• Monday, Aug. 31 – Monday Night Raw, Amway Center, 8 p.m. ET on USA Network
These latest WWE plot rumors are keeping fans intrigued.
Braun Strowman teased a distinct change for his character and hinted why he attacked Alexa Bliss: and it's because his trip to the swamp with Bray Wyatt has made him turn into a distinctly nasty heel, or at least his character is headed in that direction, as per his latest tweet. Looks like The Fiend got under his skin so much that he's engulfed with destroying the boogeyman and nothing else.
Before you pulled me into that swamp, I might have been a little naughty, but after i crawled out, I became something much, much worse. The stuff nightmares are made of!!!!!!— Braun Strowman (@BraunStrowman) August 15, 2020
There are tons of benefits the WWE can enjoy now that it'll have a "headquarters" of sorts for its shows moving forward. Are you excited to see what direction they're going to take their shows in now?