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Empty Arena in a different Era


The Cutting Edge
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We're coming up to a year in the empty arena era, it has been very hit and miss in both WWE and AEW (haven't seen Impact or ROH so can't comment) cinematic matches, crazy gimmicks, piped in crowds, thunderdome screens etc 

Real question is how would a different Era have faired in this challenging time? Obviously technology of the time would play a huge part in what they could do but it's interesting to think how many great moments we remember being different or ruined without a crowd or natural reactions.

Imagine attitude era in either wwe or wcw with no crowds? Or Any point in the 80s? 

 

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WWE can still turn profits due to the network and lucrative TV deals. New Japan also has its online subscription. In previous years I think this could have killed off wrestling or set it back decades. 

Regards to crowd reactions, bringing in a big name star from another promotion would be pretty crap as doing that gave many surprises. Other things like Sting in 97 coming from the rafters would look a bit shit if the crowd wasn't there. 

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WWE's problem with empty arena has been that it's really no different to the green screen AWA stuff - they're pretending that there is an audience, even when there isn't one. All that does is highlight how irrelevant fans actually are to the way they structure their shows - if people are wrestling exactly the same regardless of whether there's an audience there, can they really ever make the case that a babyface is drawing energy from the crowd's support, or that an audience reaction has any bearing on the story of a match whatsoever?

They can't do an entire show of Terry Funk vs. Jerry Lawler Empty Arena Matches, but I find it baffling that they've stuck to the tired old wrestling TV format. There's no reason to structure the show as a linear three hour live block when there's no live audience to entertain. Do a handful of matches from the Performance Center, but also some stuff shot on location elsewhere, promos from a studio setting, matches from the vault, and so on. It should look somewhere between Memphis studio wrestling and the old ECW TV where it would basically be stitched together from footage of different shows with promos and lead-ins by Joey Styles.

Why did the Roman Reigns/Jey Uso feud, for example, have to just play out as a conventional wrestling story with "live" in-ring promos, run-ins, and all the rest of it? Could that story have not been better served with archive matches and footage of the Anoai family and their contributions to WWE over the years, with documentary footage of them as kids and breaking into the business together, interviews with Rikishi, Afa and Sika....and so on. 

It all should have been an opportunity to break away from WWE's biggest problem - that their production has been unchanged for the better part of 20 years, and the way they structure TV has been the same for even longer. 

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11 hours ago, Chris B said:

The AWA tried it in their latter years. For the time, not a bad attempt, but just weird with the green screen. The piped-in audio, the fake cutaways... it's amazing stuff.

 

I see where Kevin Dunn gets his ideas for production now... 

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During times like the Attitude Era, it would have bombed completely as the ridiculously hot crowd were such an integral part what made the shows so enjoyable. The reason it works (to a degree) as well as it does now is because the audiences have never been so lukewarm, so there’s no that much of a shift in atmosphere from pre to current pandemic shows. 

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5 hours ago, BomberPat said:

It all should have been an opportunity to break away from WWE's biggest problem - that their production has been unchanged for the better part of 20 years, and the way they structure TV has been the same for even longer. 

I think that within that probably lies a secret fear; they don't know how. Well, perhaps theoretically they do. But they've homogenised everything and beaten so much personality out of everything and everyone that there's nothing left now except the autopilot, sanitised version of Raw from the start of the millennium.

There's also another part to it that perhaps is what's helping to tie them down - if I remember correctly, under the terms of their big new TV deals, they are required to provide a certain amount of live programming; i.e. it literally has to be 'live' even if it's from Vince's walk-in cupboard in Stamford. I think they're so terrified of losing that money which is sustaining them that they basically hit whatever is the safest option available to sustain it.

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One episode from a few years ago* that really stands out is the Raw that they had to cobble together during a blizzard - and it did more for character building, and more to salvage Roman Reigns at the time than anything they'd done in years.

However, as @Daaaaaad!said, I'm reasonably certain part of it is about the live TV aspect, and the actual wrestling being the thing that keeps people coming in while channel surfing. For a live TV show, if you're doing wrestling, you're doing something almost nothing else on TV at the time is doing. It's why everything takes place in the ring - 'Something's going to happen at any moment' is really important for them. Whereas, once you're doing backstage stuff, you're basically just doing people standing around and talking, and, well, that's everything else on television, except you're probably doing it worse.

 

 

 

*I just looked it up and it was in 2015. SIX YEARS AGO. Jesus Christ.

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Tough one to answer because if we are using an Attitude Raw as an example then back then matches were shorter, shows were shorter, more backstage skits, more characters/gimmicks, with very little internet and no streaming during a pandemic you would still have lots of eyes on the product. Presumably WWE would probably darken the arena as it all looked more edgy back then to now anyway. I think as a show they would have been fine (I know fans played a huge part back then). 

Not too sure about money/profits but they would have probably made the shows more bearable than they are now even with less technology.

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I used Attitude Era as an example just cos the fans played a good part in how it looked and sounded on TV, not saying fans would be going crazy over the stuff presented in 2020 but what we got we wouldn't have (if that makes sense).

Some times and guys  wouldve been better than others, but must be hard for WWE to book and push say Riddle for example without knowing if crowds are getting into him, ratings for a segment can be measured, I'd mostly ignore online fans opinions.

Austin 3:16 in a thunderdome would've gone nowhere at the time without it being organic.

All very hard to gauge

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It might have helped WWE 10 years ago when Cena, their biggest babyface, was getting half boos/half cheers. And I think at present it's helping Omega become an even better heel because in a full arena the crowd would be doing the "North Carolina" thing and the best heel in the company would have the fans doing his entrance with him. It's why I don't get why they've got their wrestlers singing Jericho's theme. But in the same theme, the New Age Outlaws wouldn't have got as over if they didn't have a crowd doing their speech with them. 

Feel good moments like Foley winning the title or breath taking moments like Lesnar breaking The Streak probably don't hold the same weight without fans. 

So overall I think it'd be like it is now. Some things would benefit more from an empty arena, some things would suffer more from an empty arena no matter what the era.

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