All Elite Wrestling, competitor to WWE, to bring live taping to Pittsburgh
On Oct. 2, All Elite Wrestling will debut its weekly live pro wrestling show on TNT.
This has been the buzz of the wrestling world since the group that formed less than a year ago has come out the gates with tremendous momentum.
It will serve as weekly competition to WWE, which has been the industry leader on TV in America for more than 20 years. Up to this point, all of AEW’s shows have been on-off pay-per-view events months apart, and all of them sold out.
AEW’s launch into weekly TV events is bringing the same initial excitement from fans. The first three locations have been announced — Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Boston — and all three events sold out the day tickets were released.
The fourth week will be in Pittsburgh, as AEW will take over Petersen Events Center on Oct. 23.
AEW is owned by Tony Khan, who also owns the Jacksonville Jaguars. Working with Khan is a list of pro wrestlers who will both perform and carry the title of executive vice presidents.
Among those EVPs is veteran wrestler Cody Rhodes. His wife, Brandi Rhodes, is the chief brand officer.
I spoke to Brandi Rhodes about AEW’s success and upcoming visit to The Steel City.
Q: Fourth TV taping in, a lot of cities and a lot of buildings would love to have you, why Pittsburgh this early in the travel schedule?
A: Pittsburgh has always been fantastic for wrestling. It’s just one of those towns that’s really passionate about it. We’ve always seen really great shows coming from Pittsburgh, and the fans are amazing. It was definitely one of the first cities we wanted to hit. I don’t think too many people were surprised Pittsburgh was in the early rollout. Also, we do have a really popular native Pittsburgh wrestler on the roster, Britt Baker. I think a lot of people are excited to see her in her hometown.
Q: Britt Baker started her wrestling career here in Pittsburgh in IWC Wrestling, got her dental degree from Pitt and now is coming back to that campus to perform. I imagine you guys are going to let her do something cool on the show?
A: Oh yes. I’m sure she will be represented really well. She got her degree steps away from where we’re going to be, so it will be sentimental for her and should be a nice moment.
Q: Britt was unveiled as the first female talent on AEW’s roster. Why did you choose her?
A: Britt has always been on the cusp of doing something different. She’s a very talented wrestler, and she’s had a lot options in her career and life. The path she wanted to take is the one of the disruptor, and that’s who we are. AEW is kind of a rebel group making a lot of noise. From the first show we all did together, All In, before AEW was formed where we sold out Sears Center in Chicago — which was first time in many years a rogue group like us could sell out over 10,000 seats — and Britt was one of those ladies who really rallied to be part of the show. She was a core element of that show. She’s in line with our thinking and how we want to present our brand, so she was just the perfect woman to be the first announced.
Q: What’s the reaction to going head to head on Wednesday, and is NXT the best of the three brands owned by WWE to go head to head with AEW if its goal is to tap into the AEW audience?
A: I definitely can’t speak for them and their business planning and thinking, but as far as AEW is concerned we’re all for it. We are excited to be on Wednesday night. We’ve got amazing things lined up. We can’t wait to get to air. We’re actually on the TNT campus right now with a ton of meetings and going over all sorts of aspects of rolling into Oct. 2. It’s a wild and great time for everyone. Our fans are going to be shocked, satiated and I think they will keep coming back for more.
Q: You guys are going to be on TNT. Of course, in the 1990s, WCW was famously on TNT competing against WWE, and now what’s old is new again. How did TNT with AEW come to be?
A: All of that was the handiwork of Tony Khan and his relationship with Kevin Reilly (President of TNT/TBS). It was their vision and worked hard to make it happen. We were kind of on the back end of that to make sure we are supplying best on our wrestling shows and content. Tony and Kevin worked behind the scenes to made it all come together. It is serendipitous to be on TNT almost 20 years later, kind of in a similar position. It’s cool to see it all come full circle, and it feels just right.
Tickets go on sale for AEW in Pittsburgh on Friday, Aug. 23 at noon on AEWTix.com.