As the COVID-19 virus rapidly swept the planet, time stood still. When the smoke finally cleared just enough to get a first glimpse of what remained, professional wrestling looked very different. The crowds were gone, as was most of the spectacle.
Tony Khan believes that All Elite Wrestling grew as a company during the pandemic. They defeated WWE NXT head-to-head, forcing NXT to switch nights. Tony Khan spoke in a recent Washington Post piece about the promotion about how the pandemic situation set the two major wrestling outfits apart.
“The pandemic made it more obvious who was putting more time into the stories, and who was trying to put on more quality national television.”
WWE and AEW handled their pandemic shows very differently. WWE developed the ThunderDome which allowed fans to “attend” shows virtually. AEW initially used other wrestlers as fans, but because of looser COVID restrictions in Florida were able to welcome fans to the outdoor Daily’s Place much sooner.
Khan also discussed how to keep his fanbase happy. He said the goal isn’t to please everyone. Tony believes the correct approach is to please most of the fans most of the time instead of striving for absolute perfection.
“I don’t think you’ll ever please every wrestling fan, but if you can make most of the fans happy most of the time, then you’ll have a great fan base. That passion has been within the fans all along. The fans were just looking for an outlet to express it.”
Tony Khan has had a stressful week. After announcing that Jon Moxley was taking a leave of absence to go to alcohol rehab, the AEW President had to scramble to change plans. Moxley was a fixture at the top of the AEW card, so several plans had to change on the fly. He’s also promoting a live Rampage tonight.
Which company was better during the pandemic? Let us know in the comments!