Big Changes coming to WWE Raw and Smakdown TV Shows…Jay Reddick, former News and Record reporter and writer, and now on staff at the Orlando Sentinel, has all of the details here for us today…Be sure to read this, and we thank Jay Reddick for his outstanding coverage of this breaking story coming in today, from Orlando, Florida…..
BREAKING: @WWE has a long-term lease on @AmwayCenter and will air #WWERaw and #SmackDown live weekly "for the foreseeable future" from there, company officials revealed. Shows will air from a high-tech ThunderDome with virtual fans. #Orlando https://t.co/S76Yyi7K9c
— Jay Reddick (@runninjay) August 17, 2020
WWE leases Amway Center ‘for the foreseeable future’ for TV shows
By JAY REDDICK
ORLANDO SENTINEL…./CLICK HERE
After more than five months sitting dormant, the Amway Center will be buzzing with activity in the weeks to come, thanks to WWE.
The wrestling promotion’s weekly Raw and Smackdown TV shows, along with its pay-per-view events, will air live from the arena beginning this Friday, WWE officials confirmed Monday.
Fans will not be allowed into Amway Center for the live events, but their faces may be seen on TV thanks to technology that will enhance the look of recent empty-arena shows.
WWE has leased the Amway Center “for the foreseeable future,” said John Saboor, WWE’s executive vice president of special events, who called the deal a “residency.”
The company has had a long partnership with Orlando, opening the WWE Performance Center training facility here in 2013 and bringing its signature event, WrestleMania, to Camping World Stadium in 2008 and 2017. WWE has staged most of its events on a closed set at the Performance Center since the pandemic struck in mid-March.
“We all look forward to the day we can welcome fans back in person, but this will serve as an excellent bridge and an exciting opportunity for Orlando, which has been an important part of so many milestones for us,” Saboor said.
The promotion’s Wednesday night NXT shows will continue from a closed set at Full Sail University, as they have throughout the pandemic.
WWE plans to turn Amway into a “highly immersive experience,” improved pyrotechnics, drone cameras and LED boards, which will project images of fans, much as NBA and MLS have done during its recent games. The company enlisted The Famous Group, a California-based fan experience company that has serviced 15 Super Bowls and numerous other sports and live events, to create the look of the arena, which will be called “WWE ThunderDome.”
“This structure will enable us to deliver an immersive atmosphere and generate more excitement amongst the millions of fans watching our programming around the world,” Kevin Dunn, the company’s executive vice president of television production, said in a news release.
Beginning Monday night during Raw, fans can register at WWEThunderdome.com for a “virtual seat” to appear on the LED boards in the arena during shows. The service is free. Saboor said up to 1,000 fans’ likenesses can appear in the arena at any given time.
The new-look Amway Center will debut this Friday night with Smackdown on the Fox network. SummerSlam, scheduled for Sunday on the streaming WWE Network, will also air live from Amway.
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Contact Jay Reddick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jay, who came to the Sentinel in 2012, is the viewpoints editor at the Sentinel, soliciting and editing guest columns and letters for the Opinion page and serving on the editorial board. He is also the combat sports reporter, writing about pro wrestling and mixed martial arts. He is a North Carolina native and proud Wake Forest University alumnus.