WWE Hall Of Famer Bully Ray has discussed the connection that AEW has with its fans and compared it to the connection that ECW had with its audience.
It has been a historic week for the upstart company on the back of their All Out pay-per-view. CM Punk had his first match in over seven and a half years, while Adam Cole, Ruby Soho, and Bryan Danielson all made their debuts for the company.
Speaking on an episode of Sean Waltman’s Pro Wrestling 4 Life podcast, Bully Ray – who some fans will know better as Bubba Ray Dudley – has discussed the gulf between AEW and WWE in the directions that both companies seem to be headed in:
“I think these companies are going in two completely different directions. One company is a traditional pro-wrestling company. The other one is very much, week by week becoming more and more, sports entertainment. AEW is as close to competition as WWE has had in forever. We’ve already seen a little skirmish and how it ended up.”
Bully Ray then spoke about AEW President Tony Khan and how Khan is adept at learning from the history of the business given his long-time standing as a fan. Ray also says that Khan’s experiences as a spectator in the ECW Arena has helped shape what is on AEW television today:
“AEW has the energy and the enthusiasm of the pro-wrestling fanbase because they are giving fans everything that these fans feel that they are not getting from the WWE. When you look back in history and you go ‘Okay this worked, and this worked, and this worked. Why don’t we just try to repackage it and do it again? What I’m seeing is Tony Khan and AEW have looked back and said ‘Okay, this worked in ECW, this worked in the Attitude Era, this worked in WCW. I’m gonna put it all together in a big bowl, call it AEW and I’m gonna pour it out there for the wrestling fans to enjoy.’”
“Tony was a huge fan! I mean, as a 12-year-old kid, he’s sitting in the third row of the ECW Arena. He got to experience a real wrestling revolution live. His eyes saw it, his ears heard it… being a fan all his life. Knowing what worked and what didn’t work.”