With pro wrestling promotions starting to tour again, this is the perfect time to look back at AEW and how they managed to succeed during a pandemic. Especially without one of the most important things in pro wrestling, the fans.
Crowds have always been and always will be an important aspect of wrestling. The pandemic created a major challenge for promotions to produce daily content while they didn’t have fans, but AEW talent had the advantage of knowing how to work on very small crowds thanks to their indie days.
AEW using wrestlers at ringside as fans to help generate background noise was one of the best ideas the promotion had during this pandemic era of wrestling. Having a psuedo-crowd allowed the viewers of Dynamite to connect easier to the show and make them forget for two hours we were in middle of pandemic.
Without a crowd, it’s challenging to know who is over and who isn’t, but thanks to TV ratings and social media, AEW was able to have a pretty good idea on who was over and who wasn’t. Darby Allin is someone who has become a draw for AEW and was presented as a major star during a good portion of the pandemic era.
Daily’s Place was a fantastic venue for AEW during the pandemic. It’s unique look helped AEW differentiate themselves from other promotions who were running shows on studios that had almost the same look. The open venue at Daily’s Place allowed AEW to be different and that helped in the long run to win the Wednesday Night Wars.
The pandemic also presented AEW with the opportunity to change the structure of Dark and this helped scout and sign interesting talent like Anna Jay, Powerhouse Hobbs, Griff Garrison, The Acclaimed, Leyla Hirsch and many more interesting young prospects. The success of Dark inspired AEW to create a second show to develop talent in Elevation.
AEW is back to touring and there’s no promotion that adapted better during such difficult times. TV ratings and PPV buys are the perfect example of the growth AEW saw during the pandemic era. Only time will tell who much they will be able to grow with things going back to normal.