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SmackDown Live Attendance Gets Smacked Down

In theory, the WWE should be red-hot right now as it approaches Hell in a Cell—perhaps the most-anticipated non-"Big Four" show on the annual calendar. It's got a critically-acclaimed World Champion in Seth Rollins, IWC darling Kevin Owens riding high as Intercontinental Champion, the New Day continuing to entertain with their antics on the tag scene, a mildly-entertaining mini-feud between the remnants of the Shield and the rebooted Wyatt Family, the imminent culmination to the 18-month saga between Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker, and John Cena continuing to elevate the midcard with his workhorse ways as reigning U.S. Champion.

Roman Reigns upon seeing the Roman Empire in attendance was more like a Roman Barangay

And yet on its home stretch towards the show, we've been hearing some alarming news in terms of attendance for TV tapings. Not only did the traditionally-rabid Chicago crowd fail to sell out the building in this week's RAW, with just a supposed 10,000-strong crowd showing up despite WWE touting a full house, the Philadelphia crowd was even weaker for next night's surprisingly-good SmackDown taping.

Twitter reports indicate that the Wells Fargo Center, which can seat a wrestling crowd of 19,500, actually saw an audience of just 3,000 people, with the entire upper section practically tarped off, and the seats behind the "hard" camera practically empty.


Essentially the ENTIRE upper arena has been tarped off for Smackdown tonight. pic.twitter.com/SIVZbKQyOl


Credit to WWE's post-production crew for sweetening the audio mix enough to sound like a red-hot capacity crowd was in attendance, but if you looked closely during the interview portions—particularly during Roman Reigns' in-ring promo—you'd have noticed entire sections of the arena were empty.

The venue supposedly 15 minutes before the tapings begun. 


Frankly, we wouldn't mind the WWE running smaller, more intimate shows once in a while—the energy of the first few Monday Night Raws or an early ECW show at Hammerstein Ballroom presented a unique crowd dynamic that always gave a different flavor to each show. A PWR show, for example, may only feature an audience of 500-600, but with the energy contained so tightly by the compact Makati Square Arena, you'd never know it.

Do you think this is just a bump in the road for the WWE, or is pro wrestling approaching desperate times yet again? Do you think the WWE would be best-served by hot-shotting the WWE World Heavyweight Championship back to John Cena? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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