WWE never wavered. Continuing in-house live shows as the COVID-19 pandemic arrived and forced (most of us) indoors for the summer, Vince McMahon's professional wrestling empire chose the old adage: "The show must go on."
Raw and Smackdown powered forward, while the virtual WrestleMania 36 was largely a hit thanks, in part, to The Undertaker whooping AJ Styles in a cinematic "Graveyard Match." Fans rallied around the never-before-seen style, but still, it's hard to smell what The Rock is cooking through a television set. (I know he's retired. The joke still applies.)
Enter: WWE ThunderDome.
What is WWE ThunderDome?
First look at the new WWE Thunderdome
— B/R Wrestling (@BRWrestling) August 20, 2020
Debuted August 21 during Friday Night Smackdown on FOX, WWE ThunderDome is a virtual board full of professional wrestling fans ready to do their part — cheering babyfaces in championship matches and strengthening heels — from the comfort of their own home.
Welcome to the future.
"WWE ThunderDome is a state-of-the-art set, video boards, pyrotechnics, lasers, cutting-edge graphics and drone cameras, that will take WWE fans' viewing experience to an unprecedented level. WWE ThunderDome will virtually bring fans into the arena via live video on massive LED boards for every Monday Night Raw, Friday Night SmackDown and WWE pay-per-view event."
— Via WWE.com
The ThunderDome brings fans from all over the globe together like never before. There are no assigned seats for events, as the first-come, first-serve seating rotates every 15-30 minutes to give everyone a fair chance at joining the superstars in action, according to Wrestling Inc.
Obvious rules like no profanity, nudity, inappropriate images, or political messaging apply to everyone in attendance.
Is WWE ThunderDome Free?
Yes! The coolest part is that signing up costs nothing. Now, being able to watch pay-per-view events and access WWE's full library of digital content still requires a WWE Network subscription, but ThunderDome seats cost nothing.
The one caveat, via the company's Frequently Asked Questions, is that only one viewer may occupy a seat at any time. In addition, WWE ThunderDome attendees must be 18 years of age unless a parent or guardian agrees to the Terms of Service on their behalf.
WWE ThunderDome Sign Up
Join fans from around the world live on TV!
— WWE (@WWE) August 22, 2020
Visit www.WWEThunderDome.com to sign up and join the WWE Universe's latest craze.
Signing up is pretty straight-forward, though you aren't guaranteed a spot. If chosen, you'll receive a confirmation email with a personalized link to your seat. As previously mentioned, virtual seats will be rotated often so more viewers get the chance to join, and it's unlikely you'll be front-and-center for an entire block.
WWE suggests joining Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown shows at 7 p.m. ET, as access to Main Event and 205 Live inside the WWE Performance Center will be available. Pay-per-view events will have varying call times, like the ThunderDome's PPV debut at WWE SummerSlam inside the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida on Sunday, August 23.
Expect demand for these shows to skyrocket, so sign up for your SummerSlam seat here as soon as possible.
WWE SummerSlam 2020 Card
WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Randy Orton
Universal Championship: Braun Strowman (c) vs. "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt
Raw Women's Championship: Sasha Banks (c) vs. Asuka
SmackDown Women's Championship: Bayley (c) vs. Asuka
Street Fight: Seth Rollins vs. Dominik Mysterio
No Disqualification; Loser Leaves WWE: Mandy Rose vs. Sonya Deville
Raw Tag Team Championship: The Street Profits (c) vs. Andrade & Angel Garza
United States Championship: Apollo Crews (c) vs. MVP
— WWE (@WWE) August 22, 2020
Virtual fans cheering on pro wrestlers via live stream. What a time to be alive.
WWE Thunderdome Moves To Tampa
WWE?s ThunderDome at Tropicana Field continues to develop -- the venue is set to make its debut at the Trop this Friday for SmackDown pic.twitter.com/rOaYSjLWHy
— Justin Barrasso (@JustinBarrasso) December 8, 2020
The WWE finished up its residency at the Amway Center (home of the NBA's Orlando Magic) with NXT Takeover: WarGames and has begun constructing a new Thunderdome in St. Petersburg, Florida, at Tropicana Field, the ballpark of the Tampa Bay Rays. Above is a first look at the new WWE Thunderdome.
"We are proud to have reimagined the in-arena atmosphere and provide an interactive experience like nothing else in sports and entertainment with the launch of WWE ThunderDome," WWE Executive Producer & Chief of Global Television Production Kevin Dunn told WWE.com. "Our fans' response and industry-wide recognition are both humbling and further validation of the innovative spirit and passion that exist across the entire WWE organization."
The organization is expected to hold the December 11 Smackdown on FOX episode there and later this month the WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs event.
Sign up now before it's too late to get the full Thunderdome experience.
This article was originally published August 22, 2020, but has been updated since then.
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