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Let’s talk about WWE’s ‘crowds’ of ‘Performance Center recruits’

We’re entering our third week of Raw, SmackDown, and NXT episodes that feature audiences of socially distanced wrestlers cheering, booing and chanting behind plexiglass.

It’s WWE’s twist on something AEW’s been doing throughout their fan-free, pandemic-era shows, and it’s a move a lot of fans were looking forward to after weeks of watching Superstars perform in a mostly empty building. After the first Raw with what Vince McMahon & Kevin Dunn insist on calling “ Performance Center recruits” as a “crowd”, 50% of the people who voted in our poll thought having in-arena reactions would make them more likely to watch WWE television.

Here we are a few weeks later. Do you still feel that way?

For me, I do like having some noise other than the grunts and thuds coming from the ring. It’s been a neat way for a few people to stand out in the “crowd” (I’m looking at you, Jessamyn Duke).

But as is often the case, WWE seems to have found a way to micro-manage it. Rumors indicate the audience gets directions via an intercom system. And when those directions lead to things like pre-match “This Is Awesome” chants as they did at TakeOver: In Your House on Sunday night, or a “You Still Got It” chant for Edge on this week’s Raw... it can be more cringe than energizing. Sure, it’s what fans might do (saluting In Your House’s show-opening six-woman tag before the bell was a very NXT Universe-type move). But that doesn’t mean it’s what we want. And when it feels particularly forced, it can take me out of the moment just as much as no crowd noise would.

That’s just me, though. What do you think?


Is WWE television better with ‘crowds’ of ‘Performance Center recruits’?

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    (826 votes)
  • 15%
    No, I miss the silence
    (318 votes)
  • 45%
    Eh, doesn’t matter. Let me know when the fans are back.
    (948 votes)
2092 votes total Vote Now

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