WWE have been piping crowd noise into their empty arenas to give the ThunderDome more atmosphere. Since the absence of fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic, WWE have been using pre-recorded cheers and boos to provide a reaction to crowd-less matches.
It has been reported that some of the talent are now frustrated with these fake reactions. As per the Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, wrestlers are aware that WWE changes the volume and pitch of piped-in reactions depending on the competitor.
Meltzer notes that this has seen some athletes draw the conclusion that WWE doesn’t care if they get over, if their piped in reaction isn’t as distinct as a top stars would be.
Here is the full quote:
“The ability to completely control reactions has led to frustration in some of the underneath talent because they realize the company creates the sound based on who they want to push and who they don’t, and then you have to face the fact that you’re not on the list of people they want to push, and whatever you do, you can’t get the reaction from the fans to change that.”
Certain WWE stars receive reactions greater than what the company would’ve predicted, or even understood.
When AEW’s Miro (FKA Rusev) would receive chants of “Rusev Day”, Vince McMahon thought that the crowd were mocking the Bulgarian Brute, rather than supporting him.
With WWE controlling the “fan” reaction, it is very difficult for wrestlers to know how audiences actually feel. It would be frustrating to be treated as “less popular” if you’d proven that you were a fan favourite prior to the pandemic.