‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin Doing His Thing in an Empty Arena Feels So Strange

In Tuesday’s Hot Clicks: The bizarre sensation of a wrestling show without a crowd, Bill O’Brien makes another brain-dead move and more.
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It just isn’t the same without the crowd going wild

With all sports on hold due to the coronavirus, you had two options if you wanted to watch live TV on Monday night: the news and WWE. 

Yes, WWE is still airing Raw and SmackDown as the world hunkers down. But instead of playing to packed arenas around the country, the company moved all of its shows to its Orlando training facility, the WWE Performance Center, where they’re being filmed in front of nobody. Even WrestleMania on April 5 won’t have any fans

It’s a truly surreal sight to behold. The typically over-the-top world of professional wrestling is suddenly turned into a black-box theatre production. It creates for some oddly tense and compelling character work at times, like this promo from Adam “Edge” Copeland. 

But when “Stone Cold” Steve Austin appeared on screen, it was just... weird. 

No one can get the crowd to go wild with just his mere presence like Stone Cold can. If Raw had been at the 19,000-seat PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh last night like it was supposed to be, everybody would have been on their feet the moment the glass-shattering cue of his entrance music hit. There would have been raucous cheers when he smashed his beers together and when he delivered his signature Stunner. 

Instead, there was silence. 

Austin said after the show that the experience was bizarre even for him. 

“It was really cool to be here today and it was really strange to be in front of an arena with no people,” Austin said. “For so long, you train to get a response and when you get that response, you proceed accordingly. So to be here in front of an empty crowd was very interesting, a very strange feeling. I’ve worked in front of small crowds back when I first started, but when you’re used to a lot of people being here it’s a little bit different.”

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