All Elite Wrestling’s first UK pay-per-view event, AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door, is set to take place at Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday, October 15, 2023. With a capacity of 90,000, Wembley Stadium is one of the largest and most iconic venues in the UK. Fans are eager to see if AEW can sell out the massive stadium for their historic first UK pay-per-view.
What is All Elite Wrestling (AEW)?
All Elite Wrestling (AEW) is an American professional wrestling promotion founded in 2019. It was started by Tony Khan and has featured top stars such as Chris Jericho, Kenny Omega, CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Adam Cole, and Jon Moxley. AEW airs weekly shows Dynamite and Rampage on TBS in the United States.
AEW’s UK Popularity
While less known than WWE in the UK historically, AEW has been gaining popularity with British wrestling fans. AEW first started airing on ITV 4 in 2020, helping to expand their UK audience. They’ve since signed popular UK stars like Will Ospreay to boost their appeal.
When AEW toured the UK in 2022, they sold out venues like the OVO Hydro in Glasgow, showcasing their growth. Forbidden Door will be AEW’s first major UK pay-per-view event as they look to expand their foothold.
Factors in AEW Selling Out Wembley Stadium
There are several key factors that will determine if AEW can sell out the 90,000 capacity Wembley Stadium for Forbidden Door:
Fans want to see big names at major events. AEW has already announced stars like Kenny Omega, the Young Bucks, Bryan Danielson, Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, and Eddie Kingston for the show. More big names will likely be added in the coming months. NJPW is also expected to send top Japanese talents like Kazuchika Okada and Will Ospreay.
Crossover Appeal with NJPW
Forbidden Door is a joint pay-per-view between AEW and the popular Japanese promotion New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). The crossover of the AEW and NJPW rosters and collaboration between the brands provides added appeal for fans of both companies.
First UK Pay-Per-View
This will be the first AEW pay-per-view held in the UK. Fans who may normally have to watch AEW events at home until 4am will now get to experience a major AEW show live. The novelty of the first UK pay-per-view will help attract fans.
Wembley Stadium’s Draw
Wembley Stadium is viewed as the home of British sport. Major football cup finals, concerts, and other sporting events take place there. Running Wembley Stadium would be seen as a huge achievement for AEW and affirm their arrival as a major promotion in the UK.
Potential Obstacles to Selling Out Wembley
While AEW has several advantages, there are also challenges they face in trying to sell out such a large venue for their first UK show:
High Ticket Prices
With 90,000 seats to fill, AEW may have to price tickets on the lower end to ensure they can pack Wembley. This could cut into their potential revenue. WWE has struggled to sell out Wembley in recent years, opting to run smaller venues. Cheaper prices may be needed to fill the stadium.
Lack of Mainstream Visibility in UK
Although growing, AEW still lacks the widespread visibility and popularity of WWE in the UK. WWE has over 50 years of history in the UK, while many casual viewers may still be unfamiliar with AEW. This could limit their ability to sell out such a large stadium.
Timing of the Event
If the event takes place at a busy time with competing sports/entertainment options, it may impact AEW’s ability to sell out Wembley. Careful scheduling will be needed to maximize attendance.
Accessibility of the Venue
Wembley Stadium’s size could also be a double-edged sword. While the giant capacity is attractive, actually getting to the venue in London could be difficult for fans outside the city with travel time and expenses. A more central UK location may have been easier for fans to access.
Comparison to Past Wembley Stadium Events
It’s helpful to look at past events held at Wembley Stadium to gauge AEW’s chances of selling out the venue. Below is a table of notable recent events with their attendance figures:
|UEFA Euro 2020 Final (2021)
|Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko Boxing (2017)
|Eminem Concerts (2014 & 2022)
|One Direction Concerts (2015)
|WWE Money in the Bank (2022)
This shows AEW faces a challenge WWE was unable to meet most recently in drawing over 80,000+ fans to Wembley. Massive names like Eminem and One Direction were able to sellout Wembley which demonstrates the level of mainstream popularity needed. That said, boxing and football also show the stadium can be filled for major sporting events.
Expert Predictions on AEW Selling Out Wembley
Here are predictions from journalists and industry experts on AEW’s chances of selling out Wembley Stadium for Forbidden Door:
Alvarez: “Tough but Possible”
Wrestling Observer’s Bryan Alvarez: “I think it’s going to be very tough, but possible. Nothing’s impossible, but that’s a tall order with it being their first big show in the UK. I’ll say there’s a 35% chance they sell out.”
Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer: “I just don’t see AEW having grown enough in the UK yet to fill a stadium that size. Even WWE struggles with Wembley nowadays. I’d say odds are 20% at best they sell out.”
Sapp: “Star Power Will Be Key”
Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp: “It comes down to star power. If they pack this show with major dream matches and talents from AEW and NJPW, they can sell it out. But it can’t be just an ordinary show. They need something spectacular.”
Graham: “A Tough Sell”
WhatCulture’s Andrew Graham: “As much buzz as AEW has, selling 90,000 tickets is still a huge ask. I’m not sure they have the name value yet unless they get a massive crossover star like Cena or Taker. I’m skeptical they’ll fill Wembley.”
The consensus seems to be that selling out Wembley Stadium will be difficult for AEW to achieve given their limited UK exposure. But experts concur that a stacked card and the right names could potentially draw a huge crowd. A full sellout seems improbable but not out of the question if booked properly.
Factors That Could Help AEW Sell Out Wembley
While challenging, there are steps AEW could take to improve their chances of selling out Wembley Stadium for Forbidden Door:
Book Dream Matches
Stack the card with huge dream matches between top AEW and NJPW stars. Bouts like Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada or Jon Moxley vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi would attract fans.
Sign UK Talent
Bring in major British wrestlers from the UK scene to appeal to local fans. Top stars like Will Ospreay or Nero could draw British audiences.
Heavily promote the show through UK TV, advertisting, and social media to build exposure in the months ahead of the event.
Affordable Ticket Prices
Offer affordable ticket deals and family packages to make it accessible for the average fan rather than overly expensive. Cheaper prices will help pack the stadium.
Schedule Forbidden Door at an optimal time when there are fewer conflicts with other sports/events happening. Avoid dates with major football matches, other concerts, etc.
Offer deals on travel, hotels, and transportation to Wembley Stadium to make it easier for out-of-town fans to attend. Ease accessibility issues.
If AEW implements smart promotional strategies like these, they can maximize their chances of selling out the huge Wembley Stadium.
Selling out Wembley Stadium is undoubtedly an ambitious goal for AEW’s first UK pay-per-view Forbidden Door. Their limited exposure in the UK wrestling market makes filling its 90,000 capacity an uphill battle. WWE’s struggles to sellout Wembley in recent years also display the difficulties.
However, through savvy booking by loading up the show with dream matches, bringing in major UK talent, and promoting aggressively in the months ahead, AEW can significantly improve their odds. While unlikely, the possibility of attracting 80,000-90,000 fans isn’t out of the question if they leverage their crossover appeal with NJPW and market it strategically.
Wembley Stadium has hosted major boxing, football, and music events drawing huge crowds before. If AEW can position Forbidden Door as a must-see spectacle for UK wrestling fans, they have a fighter’s chance of making history. But selling out Wembley will require their biggest effort yet in cementing AEW as a premier wrestling brand in the UK. The potential rewards of running such an iconic venue could make it worth the gamble.