Appearing on The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugoz this morning, AEW President Tony Khan talked in depth about the explosion, or lack thereof, from the Exploding Barbed Wire Death match between Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley at AEW Revolution. Khan revealed he had hired a team of professional pyrotechnics to rig the explosion, and after their work it’s not something he’ll be doing again.
“I was trying to be too safe and I let the professionals handle the stuff and they are guys who don’t understand wrestling,” Khan said. “It was professional pyrotechnic guys. They totally s--t the bed, these guys. I ended up not paying them. It was like $100,000 they ended up refunding for all the expenses of the match. So I didn’t end up paying for the (exploding) barbed wire deathmatch, which I shouldn’t have. They screwed up royally. We put together something great. Kenny and Jon worked their asses off and all they had to do was set up the final explosion. This is because we used professional pyrotechnic people who are supposed to know.”
Despite the explosive failure, Khan remains happy with the work Moxley and Omega put in, as well as how successful Revolution was. Because of that, the Exploding Barbed Wire Death match is one AEW will look to explore again.
“The next time we do this, and I will do it again because the match drew,” Khan revealed. “Everything Jon and Kenny did up until that point was outstanding, it wasn’t their fault the thing didn’t go off. Long story short, that was a long time ago and we’ve bounced back since then. That was three months ago and everything has been pretty perfect and couldn’t have gone much better. I was really grateful that the next pay-per-view was up and did a big number.”
Khan also discussed running shows without fans for the past year and how to gage the product without the reactions wrestling was accustomed to getting. He revealed AEW used the online reactions to help gauge interest in the product.
“It was difficult,” Khan said. “We had to use social media and what the fans were saying online, which is important. But really it’s only one of the things you normally look at, because you’d also be weighing the reaction of the live fans, which is some of the most important feedback you get is how the fans at the show react. When there are no live fans, you have to look at the online audience. What I did to kind of keep the shows entertaining and to keep the wrestlers insane and keep things going, I put the wrestlers themselves in the bubble, out of ringside, the people who weren’t in the matches, as the audience.
“I thought it gave us an advantage over our competitor, because they were doing it at first in a completely empty building with no reaction. At least we had the reaction of the wrestlers, who again are wrestling people, they know when to react. Is it 100% genuine compared to having a pure, paid audience of feedback from the most hardcore fans? No. So what I did a few months later when drive in movies and such started opening back up, we have an out door amphitheater that holds 5,000 people. We opened it up at 20% at first in pods, almost like a drive in movie. You come, you bring your family. So last summer, people started going to the wrestling shows again. We were the first ones to start selling tickets. We’ve been doing it now since about a year ago and we did it all with no transmissions. And we brought wrestling back and sold tens of thousands of tickets, at first in 20% and then in 25% pods.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugoz and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription