This subtle WWE change has completely transformed the company

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Sami Zayn’s entrance was one of the greatest of all time.

WWE is in the middle of a massive behind-the-scenes overhaul that only the most intense pro wrestling fans are aware of — but even if you’re just a casual viewer you probably noticed something incredible about Sami Zayn’s entrance on Monday Night RAW.

You don’t even need to be a wrestling fan to appreciate the single camera shot, transitioning seamlessly into another. It’s just brilliant TV.

Jey Uso left through the crowd, walking his way through the Bell Centre lobby in Montreal, before running into Sami Zayn who had the next scheduled match. After some talk, the camera then followed Zayn to the ring — who was flanked by his hometown fans all the way to making his arrival.

WWE has been experimenting with new camera styles since parting ways with former director of production Kevin Dunn. Dunn, a Vince McMahon guy, took an action movie approach to how he filmed entrances and matches, which often made them devoid of any feeling or realism. Entrances were too scripted and felt inorganic, and his shaky-cam in-ring work was enough to make viewers feel sick.

Now WWE is being directed by Lee Fitting, formerly of ESPN — and that’s led to a more sports-like presentation. The action itself is zoomed out more to let performers shine, and this single-shot style has been used to dramatic effect on entrances like Zayn’s, as well as backstage brawls, which then transition into in-ring action.

Professional wrestling always balances on a knife-edge which is supported by the suspension of disbelief. If everything feels over-produced it ruins any tension of the moment. Under Dunn the viewer was supposed to believe that multiple camera people, just so happened to be in the the perfect position to capture unplanned moments backstage from multiple angles. It was frankly ridiculous, even if it looked slick.

This new approach to camera work is intentionally messier, grittier, and conveys this sense that WWE has to have single cameras positioned everywhere — in the hopes that something might break out that they didn’t expect.

It’s made the product so much better as a result, and the Zayn entrance on RAW is perhaps the best example of that.

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