WWE executive vice president of television production Kevin Dunn was recently interviewed by Sports Illustrated to discuss WWE’s new Thunderdome concept. Highlights are below.
On Bray Wyatt’s SmackDown entrance in the Thunderdome:
Bray had a lot to do with that entrance, and the ThunderDome became his environment. We were able to put a lot of his content on the dome, as well as on the wire shot where you could see it on the video board behind him. A big part of that entrance is the anticipation. When someone is in the ring, and in this case it was Vince McMahon, and then a bank of lights suddenly goes out, and you hear the sound effect, you know he’s coming. That’s what it was all about, building that anticipation in our new environment and seeing it play out.
How everyone was excited to explore new options with the Thunderdome:
Everyone was pumped to do something new and special, but we’re tough graders on ourselves and I think we can do a lot better. There are some nuances we need to fix that we’re already working on it. Our camera two, the wide shot, the boards looked flat. We need to present that better because it adds such perspective. SmackDown was a lot like a WrestleMania show with so many production changes. We learned a lot from the rehearsal on Thursday with NXT talent, and we’ll keep at it until it’s exactly where we want it to be.
Says WWE really missed having fans and the Thunderdome helps:
The fans were fantastic, and we’ve missed them so much. The depth of the rows of fans really creates the atmosphere of a big-time arena, and that gave more energy to our superstars. We’re going to really work on making sure the fan experience is special, and we have some surprises in store for them. It just felt so good to have fans back.
On fan reactions to Jeff Hardy’s I.C. title win:
We got a lot of reaction when Jeff Hardy won the Intercontinental title, which was great, and we’re learning how to shoot those boards a little better,” said Dunn. “They tend to look better on the wider shots. We had some focus issues on the tighter shots, and we’re working on that with [interactive in-arena atmosphere partner] The Famous Group. This is bigger than any amount of virtual fans they’ve ever done, and they’re working hard on this, too.
How the Thunderdome will help reinforce characters:
The ThunderDome allows us to be whatever we want. We have such strong characters, and our goal is to create an environment that fits them, not only with our LED boards, but with projections and pyro techniques, like you saw with Bayley and Sasha Banks. This is an opportunity is to reinforce our characters. That’s the goal, tell our story. We need to tell our stories and show the emotion of what fuels our characters, which is a staple of WWE, and now we’re adding these enhanced production values.
Promises some big surprises for SummerSlam:
SummerSlam is a major pay per view, and there are going to be a lot of surprises. I said this last week, the goal is to show people that WWE is back, and I think we took some big steps in accomplishing that on SmackDown.