– Variety recently spoke to WWE World champion Drew McIntyre and Chief Marketing Officer Brian Flinn on how the company has had to reinvent itself during the COVID-19 pandemic and rolled out the ThunderDome. As noted, McIntyre is currently in self-isolation after receiving a positive COVID-19 test. Below are some highlights.
Flinn on having virtual fans for live WWE shows: “What’s interesting is, yes, to a significant degree is that the virtual fans that were now seated around the ring…[that] provided the opportunity for us to do things from a pyrotechnic, from a laser perspective, and from a drone camera perspective that you couldn’t do with human beings sitting in those seats. So it created some new elements for us, but importantly, really created the scene that is so true to what we do and created the opportunity for superstars like Drew to have the interactivity with the audience that’s so critical to what we do. In the sports world, certainly home field advantage is a thing. Fans and buildings matter. In the entertainment world, I would argue it matters even further in that they’re part of the cast. They’re part of the show.”
Drew McIntyre on how the ThunderDome helped: “Once we got into the ThunderDome and we were able to jazz things up without the fans there, we really took the entrances to the next level. And I just saw from my entrance on the clip, I come out in my traditional Scottish kilt, the five foot claymore, I turn that bad boy around, drive it into the stage, and it sets off a crazy pyrotechnic show. And if the fans were there live, we couldn’t do it to that level, so you’ve got to find the positives in the negative times. That’s what it’s all about right now. And as performers, it feels we’re back at home.”
A video of the Variety chat can be viewed in the player below: