WWE’s Stephanie McMahon on Re-Launching Live Events With Fans in Attendance: ‘We Absolutely Cannot Wait’

WWE WrestleMania 37
Courtesy of Craig Ambrosio/WWE

WWE is getting back on the road with a bang.

The sports entertainment giant is set to begin hosting regular live events across the country with fans in attendance for the first time in over a year starting on July 16 with a 25 city tour schedule set to run through Labor Day. This comes after WWE successfully hosted their flagship PPV, WrestleMania, back in April across two nights with over 51,000 fans in attendance.

Stephanie McMahon, WWE’s chief brand officer, told Variety that everyone at the company is chomping at the bit to get back to doing their live shows in front of real crowds.

“I think I can speak for everybody that touches the WWE Universe — whether it is our fans, our Superstars, our employees, or our partners — we absolutely cannot wait to get back together and come back home where we belong,” she said. “And even though we never went off the air and we continue to produce our content, even though we brought in nearly a million virtual fans over this time period through the ThunderDome with over 70 plus live shows, there’s still just such a huge component missing without fans physically in attendance.”

WWE never went dark during the pandemic, at first airing shows with no fans in attendance before switching to its ThunderDome set. The ThunderDome features large LED screens that virtually bring fans into the arena via live video, in conjunction with the Famous Group and its proprietary technology.

McMahon says that working under those conditions taught the WWE production team a number of lessons, some of which will be carried over into the new wave of live shows.

“In the ThunderDome, we were able to experiment with different types of technology,” she said. “And we needed to over-deliver for our partners and our fans watching at home. But now we have the ability to apply all of those learnings to the live event experience with our fans. So from a production and storytelling standpoint, it will look and feel different.”

“We’re going to have a new set design, a new presentation of our talents, different locations, and arena setups,” McMahon continued. “We’re going to be utilizing augmented reality in a way that we never have before. We experimented with it a lot during Thunderdome, but it is now going to be incorporated into our talent entrances. There’s also going to be animated graphics. It’s going to be so exciting and so different than anything we’ve done before.”