The current health crisis has had an effect on the entire wrestling world, AEW included.
All Elite Wrestling’s President and CEO Tony Khan recently sat down with the AEW Unrestricted Podcast to discuss making the decision to move from going live to taping several episodes at once. This was released before last night’s episode of AEW Dynamite.
Khan spoke about how their taping process for shows that aired in April.
“I tried my best to tape the matches so that we can take care of the wrestlers. First and foremost protecting the wrestlers, you couldn’t ask people to do so many matches back-to-back-to-back. Also, [we] wanted to be sensitive to people that wanted to get out and get back on the road Thursday night vs. people who are going to stay over or lived around Atlanta, and it was basically putting a taping schedule. There were a couple of different ways these shows could have aired. I knew that this could possibly be a month worth of stuff. It could be 6-8 weeks worth of stuff if we need to rely more on video packages. Thankfully, it never really came to that especially this past week’s show, I think it was one of the most action-packed shows that we’ve had in terms of awesome stuff, but as you guys know from being there and all over the shows, it was a challenging 24 hours putting it all together and going to people asking, ‘would you be comfortable doing this?’ It’s a lot a day, but everybody was really excited about it. The group of people that were there were really hungry.”
Khan admitted that a lot of what we saw on television happened last minute, including having Chris Jericho on commentary.
“A ton of it that day came together really late. On Wednesday night, when we finished the live show, let’s be honest, we didn’t know if Chris was coming in the next day. So Chris called me after we finished the live show and said, ‘what are you doing?’ I told him we’re about to start taping matches and gonna get some sleep and just gonna tape matches, and everybody is gonna rotate. We’re gonna get enough stuff to get us through this and with great shows however we’re gonna do this. I got a plan, and I started telling him some of this stuff.”
“I’m really counting on Orange Cassidy against Jimmy Havoc to pull a rating, and it’s not like outta nowhere. It’s a story. I told him these things. I’m really counting on this No DQ match and boy did Best Friends, Kip and Jimmy really deliver. And I told him what was going on with the tournament. I told him the hottest thing in wrestling right now, by the time we get through this, is gonna be Lance Archer. I told him these stories and what we’re gonna do, and he’s like this is gonna be great. Chris said, right before I got into much detail, he was like I’m coming, and I was like that’s insane because I wasn’t sure. Everyone’s on the fence. It’s a tough time. Chris said I’m gonna come, and I’m gonna do commentary on the whole thing.”
Khan went on to discuss what effect not having an audience has had on the overall presentation as well as revenue.
“You go from 12,000 tickets in Newark sold and once having 10,000 people out there to now 10 people around the ring, but 10 is much better than none. Wrestling in front of your peers and reffing in front of a crowd, I think it makes a difference. I’m a big fan of the territory, the studio wrestling and the small audiences. Frankly, those are bigger audiences than what we’ve had but at least in some kind of ball park to what we’re doing, and I’m glad there were people out there to watch Cody and Darby and then Lance Archer vs. Dustin to see these matches and give it some energy, but I would have loved it if we had those matches in front of 10,000 people.”
“We were on a really good run. What was happening in between Revolution and Double or Nothing, this was going to be the best run of business we’ve ever had, and we’ve lost millions and millions of dollars in live events. I don’t take it lightly, but I can’t take it out on the people that work here because it’s not their fault. We’ve really not let anybody go here as a company, and look, I’m gonna be honest, there’s gonna come a day where somebody, we’re gonna have to, but now is not the time. This is a hard time for everybody. It’s a hard time for us, but I have to look at the bigger picture. In the big picture, we’re in such good shape. We’re the second healthiest wrestling company in the world, and that’s a really great place to be. And we haven’t let a single person go to do it.”
Despite all the changes, Khan says he is still very happy with AEW Dynamite’s TV ratings.
“We’re on a good trajectory and our numbers were up, to be up in the 18-49 is the thing that, at the end of the day, I’m going to be judged on here, that we’re gonna be judged on, that we’re doing very well there, trending well, and to be up in the 18-34 like 19%, I was doing cartwheels last night when we got the ratings.”
AEW returned to live tapings this week for Dynamite. Khan wanted to assure everybody that all safety precautions will be adhered to.
“I’m really excited with what we are doing with Double or Nothing. I wish it was in front of the thousands of people, but I hope everybody will still support us and watch the show because it’s gonna be the best wrestling show you’re gonna get on PPV I promise in this climate. The best show we can do, I promise. We’ve been trying to support the wrestlers and also support a lot of independent wrestlers by bringing in a lot of independent talent over the last couple of months. Trying to do the right thing and doing this show we’ve been trying to do everything responsibly for tonight’s show. We’ll be testing people upon arrival. [We’ll be] keeping people isolated and practicing social distancing backstage and around the show.”
#AEWDynamite is live tonight on TNT at 8pm ET/7CT! I’ve tested negative for COVID as have all wrestlers & staff here, we’re taking best precautions possible & it’ll be a great show with the debut of Matt Hardy teaming w/ Kenny Omega v. Jericho & Guevara, + @JonMoxley v. Kazarian! pic.twitter.com/Kh56Drk5I4
— Tony Khan (@TonyKhan) May 6, 2020
Matt’s Musings: Glad to see AEW continuing to grow and progress despite everything that is happening in the world.