Due to the coronavirus pandemic, AEW has now aired two consecutive episodes of Dynamite with no live audience. On the first episode (Mar. 18), they intelligently simulated the missing audience noise by putting wrestlers in the stands during the broadcast. Those wrestlers played a key role by making a ton of noise during the matches and helping viewers forget that no live audience was actually there. Wrestling matches need people reacting to them, and AEW found a way to deliver that key component.
This week’s (Mar. 25) episode of Dynamite had a much different feel to it. There were no extra wrestlers in the audience this time, and the matches were worse off for it. AEW did occasionally show a room backstage where some of those wrestlers were still watching the matches and continuing to gamble, but it was nowhere close to capturing the atmosphere of last week’s broadcast.
It turns out that AEW was forced to make this change to Dynamite. Here’s Dave Meltzer explaining what happened, on the latest edition of Wrestling Observer Radio:
On the Mar. 18 episode of Dynamite, it seemed like AEW was playing by looser rules than WWE as far as the current restrictions go for these empty arena shows, and it helped Dynamite stand out as the far better product. But the rules changed this week for AEW, and it was a reminder that it’s an uphill battle to pull off a great pro wrestling show without a live audience.“The rule was no more than 10 people there at one time.”
“They had to have Brandi as the ring announcer, they had to have a referee, they had to have the people filming it...that number adds up and they couldn’t go over 10.”
“Logically, 15 people or even 50 people in that big building, you can be so far away that it shouldn’t be that bad, but they did not dictate the rules. Those rules were dictated to them. By the way the rules were dictated, they couldn’t have any wrestlers in the stands this time.”
These restrictions could persuade AEW to film more matches off site going forward, particularly tag team matches, which could make it difficult to keep under a 10 person limit inside the venue. Then again, we don’t even know how long they’ll be allowed to keep filming episodes of Dynamite at all, because the situation with the coronavirus pandemic is only going to get worse from here.