Kevin Dunn, whose official job title is ‘the man who gets blamed for all of WWE’s production mistakes’, has opened up about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before the arrival of the ThunderDome, WWE held its shows in the Performance Center when travelling to arenas was no longer an option.
Speaking with Cynopsis Media about the initial switch to the PC, Kevin Dunn said:
“In mid-March when sports leagues began to postpone and cancel events, we quickly got to work on a plan to continue delivering in-ring content to fans. We were a few weeks out from WrestleMania, our biggest event of the year, and we ended up going from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay with more than 70,000 fans to a two-night event at our Performance Center via closed set with no one in attendance. We continued to produce Raw and SmackDown from the Performance Center for the next several months. Throughout that time we were constantly tinkering and experimenting with new production techniques and cinematic style matches to bring added excitement to our shows.”
On the ThunderDome and its evolution, Dunn added:
“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. It’s the hottest ticket around.
“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.”
Kevin Dunn then spoke about potential plans for when the pandemic has passed, saying:
“If you asked me a year ago, I’d have said there is nothing we haven’t done from a production standpoint, but during this process, we’ve learned a lot and innovated in so many ways that I’d say anything is possible. Our goal is always to create the best possible experience for our fans. So, we are exploring a number of ideas and new shooting techniques, and in a post pandemic world I would expect to see our live shows draw heavily from our ThunderDome learnings.”