Tony Khan Reveals Why He Is Taking AEW Dark to Universal Studios, Wants to Recreate WCW Worldwide Feel


AEW President, CEO, General Manager & Head Of Creative Tony Khan has confirmed that AEW Dark will be taped at Universal Studios in Orlando moving forward. Khan said he wants to bring back the feeling of the old WCW Worldwide tapings that were held at Universal.

As noted, it was revealed this past week that the weekly AEW Dark show will begin taping from Universal Studios in Orlando at a Sound Stage similar to the ones WCW and TNA/Impact Wrestling used for years. Elevation will continue to be taped on the road each week along with Dynamite and Rampage. It was also said that the Dark tapings at Universal will be open to the pubic.

TNA/Impact previously taped programming from three different sound stages at Universal Studios in Orlando, referred to as The Impact Zone. The company used Soundstage 21 from 2004 – 2013, and then Soundstages 19, 20, and 21 after they returned from touring, up until they went back on the road in April 2018. The company was not allowed to charge for general admission to the events, and it sounds like AEW will have a similar agreement with Universal. WCW also used Soundstage 21 for WCW Worldwide, WCW Pro, and WCW Saturday Night episodes in 1996, calling the venue The WCW Arena, up until 1998. The XWF (Xcitement Wrestling Federation) wrestling promotion briefly used Universal Studios’ Soundstage 21 in 2001.

In an update, Khan was asked about Dark moving to Universal Studios today during a media call to promote Sunday’s AEW All Out pay-per-view. He talked about what purpose Dark serves, how Universal will be good for veterans and younger wrestlers, and how they want to bring back the feel of the WCW Worldwide tapings. Khan was asked about the Universal deal and what makes that venue a good place for Dark.

“I, first of all, had worked with our Live Events Director Rafael Morffi, who had a really good experience there [Universal] in the past,” Khan said. “He had worked with Impact and I’d like to now take this opportunity… I was glad you asked this because I want to position this… it’s funny that I’ve sen people say, ‘Oh, they’re going to that building…’ and the perception of that building, and I think people need to look at the history of that building, and also look at where Dark stands in terms of our TV platforms.

“It’s not like I’m doing Dynamite there, it’s not like I’m doing Rampage there. It’s very different and if we did, look, it’s a great venue, OK? But it’s not the plan any time soon. You know, we’re running very large arenas and have done great attendance for Dynamite and Rampage. It’s a very different thing. So, Dynamite and Rampage are the A-Shows, and Elevation and Dark are great shows. You’ll see some huge, huge stars on those shows. In fact, you know, you see Darby Allin, Jon Moxley, Eddie Kingston, huge stars compete on those shows on a regular basis. Orange Cassidy, Thunder Rosa and Nyla Rose, a lot of our top wrestlers compete on Elevation and Dark on a regular basis, but they also do so in terms of working with young wrestlers, developmental talent. We found a lot of people who are important wrestlers in AEW now, due to them working on Dark and Elevation. Red Velvet, The Acclaimed, The Varsity Blonds, ‘Powerhouse’ Will Hobbs, all of these are people who were losing matches on Dark and then I saw something in them, we saw something in them, and I ended up signing these people to contracts, and have booked to push and utilize all those people because they all have great skills, all of them came in and even those tag teams were working separately, and I liked them and I put them together.”

Khan continued, “So, I think it gives opportunities to young talent, and to me, I position it like the show that was taped there before Impact, which was WCW Worldwide. I like Impact, they’ve been very good to me, but I think it’s a difference between how we’re utilizing it and how they utilized it, even though they had an amazing run there. But to me it’s more like what WCW used it as, in terms of Worldwide being a show where they developed a lot of young talent. It’s ironic, you know, Chris Jericho, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Dean Malenko… these are guys that work for me now in AEW, and those are some of the stars of Worldwide, and those guys in Universal Studios had some classic matches with some veterans. Rest In Peace to one of my all-time heroes, one of the all-time greatest wrestlers who ever lived, ‘Beautiful’ Bobby Eaton. I’ve watched ‘Beautiful’ Bobby Eaton have great matches there, with including Chris Jericho, which we were just talking about recently, at Universal Studios.

“So, it’s a great place for veterans, it’s a great place for the young wrestlers. We don’t have to essentially be doing CM Punk vs. Darby Allin, we don’t have to be doing Kenny Omega vs. Christian Cage, or Britt Baker vs. Kris Statlander, but we’re going to do a lot of fun stuff there, and I think the fans that come will see some top stars and some great wrestling, and I want to bring back the spirit of those Worldwide tapings, which hold a very fond place in my heart.”

It’s believed that AEW Dark will begin taping from Universal Studios later this month. Next week’s Dark episode was reportedly taped this week at the NOW Arena near Chicago.

AEW Dark airs each Tuesday night on the AEW YouTube channel at 7pm ET. There is no word on if this move to Universal will affect the timeslot. Elevation airs each Monday night on YouTube at 7pm ET, while Dynamite airs on TNT each Wednesday night at 8pm ET, and Rampage airs each Friday night at 10pm ET on TNT. Dynamite and Rampage will be moving to TBS in 2022.

Stay tuned for more.


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