While major sports leagues shut down in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, wrestling carried on with WWE and AEW continuing to produce its weekly television.
Both companies had to adapt to the times, removing audiences from arenas, changing up taping schedules, and taking extra precautions during events. And TBS, TNT, and truTV General Manger Brett Weitz believes AEW President Tony Khan did a great job navigating uncharted waters.
“I think where where the rubber really met the road was during when COVID hit and watching Tony really pivot and grow,” Weitz told Variety. “And he was able to keep those storylines going and put so many great things together, even through a global pandemic, and that tells you everything you need to know about the DNA of that brand and that guy as a producer.”
In discussing the pandemic and how AEW had to adapt, Khan said, “After the first two weeks of the pandemic, as our roster started to thin out, what happened was we were forced to do shows with less than 30% of our wrestling roster available to us. And I’m actually proud of those shows as I am of anything because they kept us going. I wanted to film shows to keep the storylines moving so that we could build a testing plan,” he continues. “I always believed that, as we’ve shown, a safe testing plan could be implemented. I didn’t know how long it was going to take to design and get all the tests we would need and get it all set up. But it came together in about a month.”
AEW has run the majority of its shows during the pandemic at Daily's Place in Jacksonville, Florida. More recently, the company began allowing a limited number of fans into the building.
It was also noted in the article that the second AEW show will be a one-hour show debuting at some point in 2021. No further details were provided.
Fightful will have live coverage of AEW Dynamite beginning at 8 p.m. ET.