One of the masterstrokes that WWE has managed to stage in this pandemic 2020 that has just ended was the construction of the ThunderDome; the immense structure built first at the Amway Center in Orlando and then at Tropicana Field in the same town in Florida, with the WWE Universe audience being able to connect from home, effectively becoming part of a WWE show since alive despite the physical presence is currently blocked.
The virtual audience created by the WWE has meant that many fans returned to follow the product offered by McMahon assiduously, with the shows behind closed doors and without an audience that instead had left a bitter taste in the mouth of the fans of the company, who no longer felt that irresistible call to follow the events of WWE Superstars, without an immediate reaction from the live audience.
Not even the various hosted by great legends like Stone Cold Steve Austin and Goldberg had helped the federation to keep its ratings high. In fact, during 2020, there had been a drastic drop in Raw and Smackdown views that had never been seen by WWE.
While speaking at the CES 2021 Sports panel, WWE Executive Vice President Stephanie McMahon wanted to tell all her interlocutors why WWE opted to build such a complex and bulky structure as the ThunderDome. "There were no fans and therefore there was no audience to listen to," opened up McMahon.
Stephanie McMahon on WWE ThunderDome
"We didn't think about putting in audio recordings because it wouldn't be authentic and it would definitely be a worse experience than it was without an audience, so we started experimenting.
We started with different technologies, starting only with audio, then we brought development talents to the audience, who obviously had done the test beforehand, because health and safety come first, giving live reactions, but it was still not enough," Stephanie McMahon said on the origins of the ThunderDome.
While speaking to The Playbook podcast, Stephanie McMahon said that she enjoys the boos from fans as they give her heat on television. This is something she encourages as she continued praising the product. “Well, from a business standpoint, you know, I portray a heel or a villain as a character.
And I encourage the boos and all the haters. And quite frankly, from a storytelling perspective, I find the antagonist a million times more interesting than the protagonist. But when you consider that basic format, right? Whether it’s a book or a movie, an opera, ballet, it is protagonist vs.
antagonist with conflict resolution. It’s the most basic form of storytelling that there is. In WWE, our conflicts are settled inside the ring, right? With some of the greatest live-action that you can see in sports or entertainment, in my opinion.
But of course you want to encourage the haters I guess, in that aspect, because you want them to root for the good guy."