Professional wrestling is coming back to the soundstages at Universal Studios Florida.
All Elite Wrestling, a company founded in 2019 and the biggest national challenger for World Wrestling Entertainment in decades, will be taping episodes of its “Dark” show at the resort. The move was first reported by Andrew Zarian of the Mat Men podcast and Wrestling Observer newsletter, and later confirmed by the Observer publisher Dave Meltzer, a longtime reporter on the wrestling industry.
AEW’s “Dark” currently airs every Tuesday at 7 p.m. eastern time on YouTube. AEW has typically taped footage for “Dark” ahead of its live Wednesday broadcast of “Dynamite” on TNT.
The show usually features what are called squash matches in wrestling, where an established star quickly beats a lesser-known talent, but occasionally will include matchups between two regular AEW wrestlers. After adding a second TNT show, “Rampage,” AEW is now moving “Dark” off the road.
Universal Studios Florida is no stranger to hosting wrestling. WWE’s former national competitor, World Championship Wrestling, moved tapings of its syndicated shows from Disney-MGM Studios to Universal starting in 1996.
In 2004, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling began using Universal for all of its events, redubbing Soundstage 21 as the Impact Zone, after its weekly show, TNA “Impact”. The show and most TNA pay-per-views remained at the Impact Zone until March 2013, and the company, renamed Impact Wrestling, intermittently held tapings at other Universal soundstages until 2018.
Like its predecessors, AEW “Dark” will be open to the general public. A theme park ticket will not be required to attend shows.
The presence of “Dark” will add to the Orlando area’s growing connections to wrestling. The city is already home to the WWE Performance Center and its NXT brand, and has been the base for most of the company’s tapings and operations during the COVID-19 pandemic before live touring resumed earlier this year.