COVID-19 has caused every sport to shut down from the XFL to basketball to baseball and hockey. Luckily for us wrestling fans, professional wrestling didn’t stop for the pandemic. In a somewhat controversial move, WWE and AEW have been allowed to continue filming and broadcasting, but with one caveat: There will be no fans allowed.
Any wrestling fan knows that a live audience is arguably the most important part of the show. A hot crowd can add so much to an event and in rare occasions, have the power to change storylines and have a real voice. During the pandemic, both AEW and WWE have held shows on their normal schedule, but with no fans in attendance. Although both companies are dealing with the same situation, only one of them is handling it well. That would be AEW.
AEW is using the empty arena to their advantage by staging fresh, creative angles that wouldn’t be possible with fans in attendance.
For example, every week, AEW wrestlers that are not featured on that particular card sit ringside and cheer and boo their friends and foes. This is an ingenious idea that WWE should capitalize on and use. Having superstars surrounding the ring for matches creates an environment similar to a crowd, while simultaneously allowing superstars who aren’t featured on that card to get some airtime and even show off their gimmicks through attire, taunting the face or heel in the ring, or getting the camera’s attention.
In the meantime, WWE shows are dead silent when a match is taking place. In my opinion, it is unappealing and WWE could use a bit of noise to spice it up, even if it was from an audience of wrestlers.
WWE has also yet to use the empty arena to its fullest potential for matches. As you saw on AEW Dynamite last week, the street fight main event utilized every part of the arena including golf carts, the halls and alleys of the arena, and other heavy machinery in the venue. They fought all over the stadium and it led to an entertaining and unpredictable brawl. WWE should utilize the emptiness of the Performance Center to their advantage and have more take place outside the ring.
Between the silence of not having fans, and containing everything to the ring, WWE shows seem limited at the moment- and they are. They would benefit a lot if they took a page out of AEW’s book and lined their superstars around the ring to watch the show just like an audience. It adds a whole new level of character, emotion, and setting to the show.