WWE Thunderdome debuted last week at SmackDown and it will be used in the foreseeable future for all WWE events and PPVs. It adds production quality to broadcasts although not all were thrilled with some of the elements used.
“I was happy with what I saw. When I say happy, I was so excited about this ? not necessarily for the show but what this kind of technology and this use of technology could mean for the industry for the next 10-15 years. I was that excited about this,” said Bischoff.
“My impression ? and I’m not talking as a TV producer ? Mrs. B and I sat down and watched it and we went to our neighbors for dinner and we came back and watched it. The first entrance ? The Fiend when he came out to confront Vince ? it was too busy. There was too much going on and too many lasers for me. Other people may dig it and if you’re younger and love playing video games then you may have dug that. For me, the use of the lasers and layered lighting almost made Fiend’s entrance look insignificant compared to the lighting used to bring him in. It was too much. It didn’t add to The Fiend’s character and for me it took away.”
Bischoff added that for a dark, eerie character like The Fiend, WWE shouldn’t have made the setting as busy and bright. He also guaranteed that when the show was over, there were pages of notes that WWE compiled in which they’ll go back and tweak and refine the look of Thunderdome.
“Another thing I noticed in that same segment with Vince McMahon standing in the ring was that I got no expression from Vince’s face whatsoever because the way the red was in the ring, Vince’s face was completely washed out. I don’t know if he was crapping his pants. I don’t know if he was laughing. I don’t know if he was scared to death. I don’t know anything,” stated Bischoff. “So that whole scene was a complete waste of time because you achieved nothing for Fiend. You didn’t make him scarier or more imposing or more threatening. You didn’t get the sense that The Fiend was thinking about doing something to Vince. You got nothing.”
He noted that not seeing Vince’s expression and not seeing Fiend’s face due to his mask meant you got no emotion from the segment.
“How was I supposed to feel? What was I supposed to be thinking as a viewer? And that’s critical by the way ? that’s the exciting event. That’s the explosion. That’s the spontaneous combustion that sets off a chain of events that lead to a story or angle. So, those first few moments are critical and yet I saw nothing. I felt nothing about The Fiend. I didn’t care as a viewer. He wasn’t foreshadowing anything. I couldn’t see Vince’s reaction because of the lighting ? his facial features were completely washed out. All I saw was a red blot and it looked like he was wearing a red mask. But they’ll work through those things,” said Bischoff.
He then talked about his work at TNA and how even though they had lots of big names at one point, none of those names mattered because the promotion didn’t invest in an important thing that WWE did with Thunderdome.
“In TNA it wasn’t just the visual ? you can play with the visual with wide-angle lens ? there’s a lot of techniques you can use to camouflage the fact you’ve got 600-800 people in a room and make it look bigger. But you can’t make it sound bigger,” stated Bischoff. “For me, the best part of what I saw last night, as much as there were a lot of things like the crowd being around the ring and people being a part of it, but the thing I loved the most about it is the audio.
“Even when you didn’t see the virtual fans on camera, you heard them and felt them. Subconsciously you knew they were there which gave me permission to now invest in what I was watching because I wasn’t kicked between the eyes with the fact there was nobody in the room. Now that you’ve create that emotion and background noise, you create that energy that the virtual crowd brings to the production. Now I felt like I was watching something reasonably close to what I used to love to watch. It’s still not there because it’s not a live crowd, but damn they’re getting there. As time goes on they’re gonna find more and more ways to refine the production techniques and equipment technology available to them and they’ll find better ways to use it.
“Kevin Dunn if you’re listening to this, I know you’re not, but if you read anything and you hear me reference this, I know you’ve got those laser lens, bro, but that doesn’t mean you have to use them so much.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.