The Thunderdome

A new experience for the WWE Universe

The pandemic has changed the lives of professional WWE wrestlers since the coronavirus outbreak. Due to the pandemic,future shows were canceled. An audience was no longer allowed in order to keep the environment a safe place for employees. The fans watched their favorite WWE wrestling shows at home on TV. The fans play a huge part in the shows as the audience.


What was the reason behind the Thunderdome?


The largest wrestling company in the world, WWE, has now moved on from no audience to virtual fans displayed on LED screens around its new setting called The Thunderdome. Due to the pandemic, the WWE was forced to make changes, according to Sports Illustrated. The most important pay-per-view of the year, Wrestlemania 36, was moved from its original location at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay Florida to the performance center in Orlando, Florida without fans. Wrestlemania is comparable to the Superbowl where thousands of wrestling fans from different parts of the world come together in one stadium.


The company has its own three independent shows called Raw, Smackdown and NXT, all of which experienced delays in broadcasting for months. Because of this, WWE has debuted a new experience for wrestling fans. The Thunderdome allows fans to participate in the shows virtually by signing up for free through a registration link, where they may get selected to be a part of the show. WrestleZone reported that the CEO of the company, Vince McMahon, has made a new deal with the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida to continue shows in the arena .


The Thunderdome originally debuted on an episode of WWE Smackdown on Aug. 21. To secure the safety of his employees, the chairman makes sure that everyone gets tested before entering the building. The shows have to continue in order to keep viewership and ratings up to compete with other wrestling companies. AEW, Impact Wrestling and Ring of Honor are in competition with the WWE. For them to boost their ratings, they’re making efforts to ensure that the viewers get the content they want.


How storytelling captivates its audience


The ability to tell a compelling story makes the audience care and continue to watch the shows. Most of the time, the ratings also depend on the booking of the superstars. Every talent has their own character and that character is shown in different ways, whether they’re the villain or hero of the story. It has to be captivating and should have memorable moments that will be written in their history books. Female superstars, Sasha Banks and Bayley, had captivating promos that the audience was invested in. Both women had an exchange of words that led to the climax of the match.


In this story, Bayley betrayed her best friend Sasha Banks by brutally attacking her neck with a steel chair after they lost their Women’s Tag Team Championships. Later on a TV episode of Smackdown on Oct. 16, both of these ladies had a contract signing for their upcoming pay-per-view called Hell In A Cell where they had an exchange of words. Bayley said,“You’ve been waiting to turn on me all this time, but I just beat you to the punch. I get it, that’s why you’re so upset right now, it all makes sense.”(AlexaBanks,4:02-5:54).


Bayley explained her reason for attacking her best friend Sasha Banks. Sasha had a look of desire when she would stare at Bayley’s Smackdown Women’s Championship, which made her believe that Sasha was going to betray her at any moment. Bayley took her chance when Sasha least expected it. The audience was shocked at this behavior because they did everything together. Sasha helped Bayley in many ways to keep her title when she defended it against her competitors. After everything she did to help her best friend, Sasha was the one who was betrayed.


Sasha replied, “I’m going to end you because I am Sasha Banks and my name is bigger than your title and come Hell In A Cell when I walk out with your Smackdown Women’s Championship, that’s just going to be the icing on the cake.”(AlexaBanks, 4:02-5:54). Sasha wanted revenge. Her name alone is very popular in the wrestling world because of how much history she’s made. Her revenge on Bayley will be Sasha taking her Women’s Championship inside Hell In A Cell.


Sasha wanted to hurt Bayley the exact same way she hurt her by taking away what she loves most. The recent pay-per-view, Hell In A Cell had people talking all over social media because of the storytelling between Sasha Banks and Bayley inside the cell. Once the door from the cell is locked, anything is legal. The storyline is that the hero must conquer the villain no matter what it takes. Despite the circumstances, fans around the world still get to watch their favorite wrestlers perform on TV and different social media platforms. 


The media helps superstars keep connections with fans


Social media platforms such as Youtube, Twitter and Instagram have allowed fans to keep up with their favorite wrestling shows. Those who want to rewatch an episode they missed can do so easily on the official Youtube channels of RAW, Smackdown, or NXT. Anyone that watches these shows also has the ability to see clips on Twitter and Instagram. The company itself has its own Twitter account where they provide timely updates of what happened during their shows. Similarly, the official WWE account on Instagram, also has highlights of the shows to give fans updates.


Ultimately, WWE continues to give its fans wrestling content despite the challenges posed by COVID-19. The company found a new way to connect with the WWE Universe which has benefited them with ratings and viewership due to their fans loyalty in keeping up with their shows. Their social media presence has also allowed fans to rewatch shows on any social media platform. The WWE Universe is a huge part of WWE because of its massive and passionate audience that craves new and exciting wrestling content.


The Thunderdome has caused its fans to keep interest in its product. By continuously having WWE superstars perform on live TV it has sparked an interest from people who are unfamiliar with this product. Since the new change,it has led to more views. The WWE has found a way for its audience to be a part of the shows. The experience of not being able to attend a live show and being able to attend virtually shows the amount of effort that was put into this project. 


Ashley Chinchilla can be reached at [email protected]