The Mat Men Podcast host Andrew Zarian has dropped a number of major WWE reports in recent months. In the last week alone he reported WWE was planning on bringing live fans back beginning with the July 16 episode of Friday Night SmackDown, followed by the news that WWE bumped up Hell in a Cell to June so that Money in the Bank (July 18) would be in front of a live crowd as well. He returned to Twitter on Monday with the news that WWE is also working on changing up the entrance sets for both Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown.
The Red and Blue Brands had distinct sets prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but once WWE started operating out of the Performance Center and ThunderDome they started having a uniform look.
For those who didn't get it... New Sets coming soon. https://t.co/VW67o3ibCM— Andrew Zarian (@AndrewZarian) May 17, 2021
While WWE never stopped producing weekly episodes of Raw and SmackDown, the company was forced to move inside the WWE Performance at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last March. The ThunderDome, a setup that allowed fans to attend shows virtually via rows of led screens, was introduced over the summer and has since been home to all episodes of Raw, SmackDown and month pay-per-views.
WWE officials, while not confirming Zarian's report, have repeatedly stated live fans will return in the second half of 2021. There's also a belief within the company that their return will provide an improvement to the ratings for WWE's weekly television products.
"... As it relates to live events that [the audience] always matters to us. Our fans are our fourth wall, if you will," WWE president Nick Khan said in an investor conference call in mid-April. "We know immediately from them what's working and what's not working. The ThunderDome was a phenomenal creation by the creative team here, but to get live fans and to get our performers in front of them, we yearn for that as much as our performers do. And we think it's going to have a direct impact on all parts of our business in an overwhelmingly positive way."