WWE’s Brian Flinn & Drew McIntyre: Reimagining the Fan Experience

WWE CMO Brian Flinn and champion Drew McIntyre sat down with Variety NY digital editor Todd Spangler to discuss how the WWE reinvented itself in the age of coronavirus for the Variety Entertainment Summit, in partnership with CES 2021.

“Virtual fans… provided the opportunity for us to do things from a pyrotechnic, from a laser perspective, and from a drone camera perspective that you couldn’t do with human beings sitting in those seats,” explained Flinn.

“It created some new elements for us, but importantly, really created the scene that is so true to what we do and created the opportunity for superstars like Drew to have the interactivity with the audience that’s so critical,” he continued. “In the sports world certainly, home field advantage is a thing. Fans and buildings matter. In the entertainment world, I would argue it matters even further in that they’re part of the cast. They’re part of the show.”

McIntyre addressed how the rollout of WWE Thunderdome, an immersive virtual experience, was key to raising the stakes for eager fans stuck at home.

“Once we got into the ThunderDome and we were able to jazz things up without the fans there, we really took the entrances to the next level,” he said. “And I just saw from my entrance on the clip, I come out in my traditional Scottish kilt, the five foot claymore, I turn that bad boy around, drive it into the stage, and it sets off a crazy pyrotechnic show.”

“If the fans were there live, we couldn’t do it to that level, so you’ve got to find the positives in the negative times,” he finished. “That’s what it’s all about right now. And as performers, it feels we’re back at home.”