Triple H walked with his arms crossed like an X – his symbol of X Degeneration – with his 7-foot teammate Joel Embiid to ring a ceremonial bell last month before a Philadelphia 76ers playoff game.
His themed music rang through the arena and nearly 19,000 fans hung from the beams roared as the fighter raised his chosen weapon hammer and rang the bell.
Sure, the setting wasn’t WrestleMania – although Triple H lost a match in the same building when the event was held there in 1999 – but for the superstar turned executive, the frantic atmosphere was a a reminder of what the WWE lost during the 16 for months ran without live events and strong crowds.
“It was a fun opportunity to re-enter a stage full of fans and drive them crazy,” said Triple H, known these days as WWE executive Paul Levesque. “This adrenaline rush, there’s nothing like it.”
WWE has not been the same without its “Yes!” chants or “That’s wonderful!” sings once the pandemic relegated the company to playing empty arena matches each week with a built-in soundtrack and virtual fans.
Like the introduction to the DX theme, WWE has a question for its fans: Are you ready?
With most American sports leagues grounded in their old routines, the WWE is finally ready to leave its starting point in Florida and resume touring from Friday night with “Smackdown” from Houston, a pay Sunday in Texas and a Monday back in Dallas for the flagship TV show “Raw” in the US. The WWE is ready to spawn sets, recover old stars and press the reset button on TV programming, humiliated with record low scores and a great need for new stars.
WWE Universal champion Roman Reigns stared at all opponents in the ring, from the enemy of Sunday’s main event to WrestleMania victim Daniel Bryan, and demanded that I be “recognized” as the best of the game.
Maybe it would have been nice to hear what the fans had to say, or make fun of the ultimatum.
“I think if we did it in front of the live crowd, it would have been a situation that would have made me an even better performer,” Reigns said. “As a live performer, this simultaneous response keeps you sharp. We had to adjust and adapt to the times ahead.
With Hulk Hogan at home, WWE only held WrestleMania on April 10 and 11 at Raymond James Stadium with fans. WWE last hosted an overnight televised event with a paid crowd on March 9, 2020 in Washington. The WWE moved to its in-house representation center in Florida on March 13, before establishing what it called The ThunderDome, where fans registered for spots on LED digital videobards, for stretches in Florida in the United States. Amway Center, Tropicana Field and the Yuengling Center. .
The WWE played with its formula during pandemic and recorded cinematic coincidences, used a more augmented reality, and wrapped itself in an “underground” concept that never reached its potential. With the WWE press on the reaction buttons, it was guaranteed that fans would not leave the hopeful creative direction and favorite fans of the fans for the sport, as they had previously done with Reigns and current John Cena , Hollywood heavyweight.
“People like Roman have been able to emotionally deliver a performance that, perhaps with people cheering on him, booing him, or going in different directions about him,” they have benefited from, Levesque said. “But this is the beauty of what we do: go and entertain ourselves, however you want. As a performer, this is sometimes difficult. But if you don’t entertain, sometimes they will entertain.
The closure of WWE fans was not entirely the end result, as the company reported revenue of $ 974.2 million in 2020.
Even with no ticket revenue, local merchandise and the loss of a lucrative Saudi Arabian program, WWE’s $ 1 billion television deal with Fox and USA Network and the relocation of its broadcast network independent at Peacock, home of Sunday’s Money in the Bank event, will keep the company profitable for years.
WWE’s July 5 RAW program on USA Network reached 1,472 million viewers, the lowest in the program’s 28-year history. Over the holiday weekend, “Raw” bounced back to $ 1.609 billion this week. Last Friday’s “Smackdown” had 1,986 million viewers on Fox. The WWE never missed any television event during the pandemic.
Levesque, PDE of WWE’s global strategy and talent development, said the company would “take a hard look” at how it can attract more fans to the product each week. WWE can only hope that the combination of live crowds and the return of box office attractions like Becky Lynch, Goldberg and Cena can ignite interest and raise ratings during the construction of the August 21 SummerSlam marquee at home. of the Las Vegas Raiders.
“It’s never a thing,” Levesque said. “We see it as a time when you change everything. I think you will see it only in the layout of everything, in the sets, in the way it is presented. There is a greater emphasis on the use of the spaces we have and the television aspect, although fans are still involved. Much of this comes from the moment we had to experiment inside the ThunderDome.
The first start is to put fans back in their seats with their homemade banners and slogan t-shirts.
“When we have that crowd live, sometimes they almost become the cameras of a lot of the performers,” Reigns said. “But when you don’t have that real-time interaction with the meat, the red light becomes the center point of the performer.”
Cena and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson tweeted their screams and WWE CEO Vince McMahon greeted fans with a short video featuring some of WWE’s memorable moments.
Reigns is ready to add some more to the most prominent reel.
“Our production, our show of the show is much bigger with a live crowd,” Reigns said. “Being able to visit different markets, different towns and cities and incorporate a group of fans who haven’t seen us in a long time, there’s nothing that can replace that.”
It’s been 20 years since “The Fast and the Furious” hit theaters. Now Vin Diesel sits down with NBC entertainment reporter Heather Brooker to talk about why this story continues to improve with age. And John Cena talks about the intense sibling rivalry between the Toretto brothers. ‘F9’ is available exclusively in cinemas on 25 June.