WWE Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler spoke with USA Today’s Commercial Appeal after commentating on this past Monday’s RAW, which took place at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, numerous WWE events have been cancelled and will now take place from the WWE PC without a live audience.
Lawler said one of the biggest issues at the moment is not knowing if the segments are entertaining or not, since there’s no one there to react.
“That’s our obstacle [now],” Lawler said. “How do you entertain when you don’t have a live audience? That’s how you judge whether you’re being entertaining or not ? the crowd response. When nobody’s there, you can’t tell.”
Lawler then recalled his empty arena match in 1981 against Terry Funk at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, saying that he felt kind of dumb going through a match without any fan reactions. He noted football training camps pipe in crowd noise and maybe that’s something WWE could do for matches.
“That may have been the very first empty-arena match,” Lawler recalled about his match with Funk. “Of course, ours was done intentionally. It was at like 1 o’clock in the afternoon. It was classic at the time. When I go back and think about it, I do remember, right in the middle of the match, I thought, ‘This feels stupid.’ He’s throwing me into empty chairs and those sorts of things. There’s no fans screaming, no background noise at all. It just made you feel kind of dumb.
“I’ve been to [football] training camps where the players go through their practice sessions with loud music or crowd noise piped in. I don’t think it would hurt anything at all if they piped in some crowd noise behind the matches. And even explain it to the fans. It’ll make the matches more entertaining and it’ll make it easier for the performers themselves.”
During his interview, Lawler also noted WWE checked the temperature of anyone who came into the Performance Center as a precaution for dealing with the Coronavirus.
“It was definitely different,” Lawler said about Monday’s RAW. “Everything about it was different.”