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WWE reportedly following AEW’s lead, will use NXT talent as fans for Raw & SmackDown (updated)

According to an internal memo obtained by Fightful Select, WWE is going to use talent from NXT and the Performance Center training roster as fans on the episodes of Raw and SmackDown they’re filming in Orlando this week.

The lack of crowd reactions is frequently cited as one of the main problems with empty arena shows.

The wrestlers will be kept off camera, which will differentiate WWE’s approach slightly from AEW, who has been using wrestlers as a surrogate audience throughout the pandemic. Most viewers and critics have pointed out the noise from the crowd as a positive aspect of Dynamite and last Saturday’s Double or Nothing PPV, although there have been criticisms that it defeats the purpose of closed set, as well.

Dominik Dijakovic, Chelsea Green, Shotzi Blackheart, and Jessamyn Duke are among those who will reportedly take part in the taping. Fightful’s report says the talent being used was screened this morning for COVID-19 before being transported to the P.C.

Plans called for WWE to tape two episodes of all three of their nationally televised shows this week. Fightful only confirms the “crowd” will be used for Raw and SmackDown. Wrestling Observer’s Bryan Alvarez says they’re considering doing the same thing for NXT, but it hasn’t been decided yet. The final decision will, of course, be Vince McMahon’s.

Excited to here some noise on Raw tonight?

UPDATE: Fightful’s moved the story to their free site, and their report now says “many” of the talent will be kept off camera, but perhaps not all since there is a dress code of black pants, black shoes, and a WWE-provided t-shirt. Audience members at the Raw and Main Event tapings today were spaced six feet apart, and there was a plexiglass barrier between the seats and ring area like you’d see at a hockey rink.

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