Fans Are Returning To AEW Dynamite

Ever since the pandemic started back in February, no major wrestling event in America has been able to put tickets on sale. We began with empty arena shows in both WWE and AEW. After a few weeks, we started seeing wrestlers take the place of audience members during Dynamite and eventually WWE followed suit. While it’s definitely an improvement and some weeks sounds really nice, the energy was never quite the same. Well, for AEW, we’re starting to get close to normality again.

For next week’s round of tapings, taking place August 27th, there will be a limited amount of tickets sold, starting tomorrow. This was announced in a press release and you can see the whole details in the tweet below:

To summarize, for the first show, 10 percent capacity will be permitted. If safety protocols are followed ‘meticulously’, they will be allowed 15 percent capacity going forward. These protocols include physical distancing, where only people who arrive together will be placed together. They describe these groups as being in their own pods, with markers on the ground to help with the distancing, I assume security will also play a part in enforcing that. Masks are mandatory and everyone coming in will be getting temperature checks.

AEW has been having more guests in shows these past few weeks, seemingly testing the waters for this, and practicing camera tricks to make people look closer together than they actually are:

AEW opening up before WWE makes sense given the circumstances.

If you’re wondering why the CDC has given AEW this clearance but not WWE, that’s actually pretty easy to explain. For starters, WWE has had a pretty severe outbreak in the past and that has yet to happen in AEW. AEW did actual testing as soon as they could whilst WWE didn’t do real tests until after an outbreak. They also allowed those in the crowd to wear from the beginning, whereas WWE reportedly forbade masks in the crowd for a couple of months, though some within the company have disputed this.

What’s more, WWE has been situated in the Performance Center these past several months, whereas AEW has used the Daily’s Place arena. The Performance Center is a very small building that is entirely indoors, whereas the Daily’s Place is much bigger and open air, which makes it a fair bit safer. The press release also mentions industrial fans which were installed to increase air circulation. WWE will be in the Amway Center for most shows soon, which is a far larger venue, but it’s still indoors.

The normal capacity for the Daily’s Place Arena is about 5500, though this might be slightly different for AEW’s specific setup. But regardless 10 percent would mean about 500 fans in attendance. Should they be bumped to 15 percent, that puts them in the ballpark of 800.

I’m nervous but hopeful about this.

The immediate response is understandably mixed. Undoubtedly the show itself will benefit greatly but there’s certainly potential for this to be a major mistake. The biggest cause for concern really is that this is taking place in Florida, which has been infamous for it’s mishandling of COVID-19. It’s likely the most dangerous state that it could be happening in, but that’s where their base is.

I can’t say I’m not worried. But I am an optimist and I’d like to think these protocols will pay off. So far AEW has remained safe. They’ve been running for five months without an outbreak. A handful of scares arose but it doesn’t appear anyone has ever contracted COVID from being at an AEW show, that’s why they have this opportunity now in the first place.

Realistically speaking, it was going to happen eventually and it’s unlikely it was ever going to feel like the right time. Let’s just hope everyone stays safe.

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