AEW looks to follow in the footsteps of WCW and Impact Wrestling as Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida is reportedly set to become the new home for AEW Dark tapings.
As noted earlier this summer, AEW President Tony Khan noted in an interview that he was planning to find a new venue to use for the werkly AEW Dark tapings, and “other content that’ll be great.” When promoting the premiere of AEW Rampage, Khan told PWInsider back in June that the weekly “Dark: Elevation” show will be shorter than it has been as it will be taped before the weekly Dynamite show, instead of Dark taping before Dynamite. The plan has been to tape Elevation before Dynamite, and Rampage after Dynamite, but also go live with Rampage some weeks, for shows like pay-per-view go-home episodes.
“Before Dynamite, we used to tape Dark. That’s going to change. I’m going to tape Elevation before Dynamite now,” Khan said. “So it’s going to be a shorter Elevation and I may add matches that I’ll explain where I’ll add them from. I’m going to procure a venue for use to tape Dark and other content that’ll be great. And I’m really looking forward to this. I think it’s going to be tremendous and it will be where we’ll shoot Dark and we’ll do tapings. And it’ll be, as it’s been, it’s been a developmental situation and it’ll continue to be developmental. And it’s been great doing it all under one roof, all at one taping. And there’s been advantages, but there’ll be some advantages now to doing it as its own taping and being able to give 100% attention to these and not having also to think about Dynamite and soon Rampage and Elevation also.”
In an update, Mat Men’s Andrew Zarian reported that the likely new home for AEW Dark is Universal Studios in Orlando at a Sound Stage similar to what TNA/Impact Wrestling used for years. Furthermore, Dave Meltzer seemingly confirmed the report in another tweet, adding that Dark will be taped most of the time at Universal Studios in Orlando going forward. It was noted that the AEW Dark tapings will be open to the public.
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.
Next week’s AEW Dark episode will be made up of matches taped last week in Chicago. It’s believed that the Universal Studios tapings will begin the week after, or perhaps in early September if they decide to tape Dark matches during All Out Week in Chicago. There’s no word on if Dark will be taped weekly at Universal, or if they will tape multiple episodes at once.
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 updates.