On the latest episode of the Busted Open After Dark podcast, WWE Hall of Famer Bully Ray delved into several wrestling-related topics, including the attendance figures at recent AEW Dynamite events in the United States.
Bully Ray expressed his observations regarding the decreasing attendance numbers at AEW shows within the United States, signaling a shift in the wrestling landscape. He acknowledged that, during AEW’s initial years, fans were accustomed to witnessing packed arenas for Dynamite episodes. However, he noted a noticeable change in the attendance figures recently.
“I think the real discussion is in what AEW is doing in the States and the houses that they are drawing in the States right now because in the first couple of years, we were used to seeing packed houses every Wednesday night for AEW. Tonight, I think, and I’ve been gracious here, I think there were 2500 people in the building. Now, that doesn’t mean that those 2500 people need to suffer. AEW still needs to deliver the best show that they possibly can for those people, and I think they go out there, and they do.”
Bully Ray mentioned a specific episode of AEW Dynamite, estimating that only around 2,500 people were in attendance at an arena designed to accommodate 15,000 spectators. Bully Ray emphasized that this decrease in attendance does not diminish the importance of delivering an excellent show for those in attendance. Still, he raised questions about whether the audience perceives AEW as the “cool show in town” when they witness numerous empty seats in large venues.
“But when you’re in an arena that holds 15,000 people, and you’re one of 2500, and you look out there, and you see lots and lots of empty seats, it makes you wonder if you’re at the cool show in town anymore, and thus, I believe it affects people’s willingness to be as interactive with the show as they would have been as if it was a packed house.”
Drawing from personal experience attending a Motley Crue concert, Bully Ray illustrated how dwindling attendance can impact the overall atmosphere of an event. He described how a once-packed arena for Motley Crue had significantly fewer attendees than expected, leading to a sense of disappointment.
“I’m not just pulling that out of thin air. I’m pulling that from experience. I remember when Motley Crue had broken up and Vince Neil had left the band. Then Vince and Motley got back together. I went to the first show at Nassau Coliseum, Motley Crue getting back together, and I was so excited. I could not wait. My favorite rock’n’roll band of all time we’re back together and I was going to see another great Motley Crue show. At about a half an hour before the show, only half of the arena was full. There’s probably only seven or 8,000 people in the Nassau Coliseum. I was like, ‘Wow, I guess people are showing up late. It’s going to be packed and it’s going to be sold out by the time the house lights go down and Motley hits the stage.’ Well, the house lights went down, and Motley hit the stage and it was still only about seven or 8,000 people there. The arena was half full. It’s one of the only concerts that I can remember being at where I kind of sat down because I was like, ‘Wow, my band isn’t the biggest band in the world anymore’, and if I found it harder to be as into the show knowing that maybe this wasn’t the place to be anymore.’ Grunge had taken over and Pearl Jam, and you know, bands like that were selling out.”
Bully Ray also observed that, on the particular episode of AEW Dynamite in question, the crowd’s energy and enthusiasm seemed lower than usual. While there were moments of excitement, he felt that the overall vibe did not match the usual fun-filled atmosphere associated with AEW shows.
“I don’t think the people were very loud tonight. I don’t think the people were very interactive with the show. There were moments, but it didn’t have that fun feel that AEW normally has, and if you take a look at the numbers they have for their houses coming up, they’re also very light. What does this say about AEW’s popularity right now and why has the popularity subsided? I’ll stay in the States. I’m not gonna say overseas, because they just had a monster house, but they’ve only been there one time. It seems like the popularity in the States is starting to dwindle.”
Bully Ray’s comments shed light on the evolving dynamics of wrestling attendance figures and fan interactions at AEW events in the United States.
What are your thoughts on Bully Ray’s observations regarding decreasing attendance figures at recent AEW Dynamite events in the United States? Do you think this trend reflects a shift in the wrestling landscape Leave us a comment below.
September 14, 2023 1:14 pm