For the first time in almost two decades, Charleston will host a live cable-network professional wrestling broadcast.
All Elite Wrestling — the new company founded by Tony Kahn, son of Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Kahn — will have the broadcast of its fifth live television show on Wednesday, Oct. 30, at the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center. Before AEW visits West Virginia, it will have live broadcasts in Washington D.C., Boston, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Tickets for the Charleston show go on sale at noon Friday and can be purchased at allelitewrestling.com/events.
The company announced its dates in Pittsburgh and Charleston on its YouTube show “Being the Elite,” in an episode aptly titled “Country Roads.” Cody — the son of pro wrestling legend Dusty Rhodes and an executive vice president with AEW — introduced the Charleston announcement by singing “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”
Dave Meltzer, the editor and publisher of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter who has been considered one of the premier journalists covering professional wrestling since the 1980s, said he was surprised by AEW picking Charleston for one of its first televised shows.
“I was surprised, yeah,” Melzter told the Gazette-Mail on Monday. “I had some thoughts on where they would go, and I thought it would be major markets. I was surprised. I know they picked where they went based on what cities did well from the two shows they did on Bleacher Report [live streaming service]. That was kind of how they were picking their schedule — where the viewership was coming from. Obviously, Charleston must have done pretty well in that regard.”
AEW’s weekly show will be broadcast on TNT. The last time a major wrestling company had a live TV broadcast in Charleston, it also was shown on TNT. “WCW Monday Nitro” emanated from what was then the Charleston Civic Center on July 3, 2000, in the waning days of World Championship Wrestling and less than a year before the company was sold to WWE owner Vince McMahon.
“West Virginia per capita, historically, has been pretty good for wrestling,” Meltzer said. “It has been for a long time. I know when I look at Google searches and stuff, AEW and New Japan [Pro Wrestling] and some of these new companies on the market, the West Virginia [market] — you know, Charleston and Huntington — usually do pretty well. In that sense, I guess I shouldn’t be as surprised, but you just don’t think of that because you think of the big markets as being your big wrestling markets.”
All Elite Wrestling has produced one sold-out pay-per-view, “Double or Nothing” in Las Vegas in May, and its next pay-per-view, “All Out” in suburban Chicago on Aug. 31, also has sold out. The TV broadcasts in D.C., Boston and Philadelphia have sold out as well.
“It looks like interest is high,” Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center executive director John Robertson said. “I didn’t realize that many people were aware of the new brand. Certainly, [judging] by the level of calls that we have had today, people are interested.”
Among the group of executive vice presidents for the company are Rhodes, Matt and Nick Jackson — who have earned international renown as the tag team The Young Bucks — and Kenny Omega, who had held top championships in New Japan Pro Wrestling. The company also features Chris Jericho, a star in both WCW and WWE before coming to AEW, and Jon Moxley, who recently finished a stint in WWE as Dean Ambrose.
“We have been doing WWE [shows] once to twice a year, and so it’s going to be really good to have a little competition but also to have a different offering,” Robertson said. “I think we have success with this when we can do this once or twice a year.
“We’re going to be one of the smaller markets, but it has been impressive what [AEW] has been doing. I’m really looking forward to Friday to see just how well we do on it. They say they have done their research and based upon what they know about folks from this area that have seen them on their pay-per-views and their free live streaming [shows] so far. They’re pretty confident that we can do well with it.”