CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Professional wrestling with fans is returning to Charlotte.
All Elite Wrestling will broadcast "AEW Dynamite: Fight for the Fallen" live on TNT from the Bojangles' Coliseum on Wednesday, July 28. This marks the first trip back to the Queen City in a post-pandemic era with fans in attendance for the promotion.
It has been an adjustment for athletes across the globe due to COVID-19. AEW pro wrestler Matt Hardy has put together a hall of fame career in the squared circle, competing for several promotions over the years. He said it has been a welcomed sight to have fans back at shows.
"It's huge," Hardy told WCNC Charlotte on Friday. "I feel like the whole pandemic era really highlighted, it very strongly highlighted, how important crowds are. Pro wrestling isn't full-fledged pro wrestling without having an audience there. Without the 'oohs,' the 'aahs,' the 'yays,' and the 'boos,' it's not pro wrestling."
It was a unique time for the professional wrestling scene early on during the pandemic. Shows were either canceling or wrestlers were performing in front of talent or no one at all.
Back in May, AEW announced it would phase-in crowds at Daily's Place in Jacksonville, Florida. The promotion has since announced venues for live shows across the country.
"We're so reliant on the crowds interactions and their reactions... we just didn't have that," Hardy explained about performing earlier during the pandemic. "It made it very hard for us. To have these crowds back is a godsend. I feel like a kid at Christmas every time I walk out in front of an arena with people now."
BACK IN NORTH CAROLINA
Consider Wednesday's show in Charlotte a homecoming of sorts for Hardy.
"The coliseum is exactly 100 miles from the Hardy Compound in Cameron, North Carolina," he explained. "I'm at home. It's a very short drive. To go and perform in front of Charlotte on the hottest product on television, 'AEW Dynamite,' is so exciting for me and I'm thrilled to be there Wednesday. Especially doing this level (of wrestling) this late in the game. Every AEW crowd we've had the past three weeks have been white hot, so I'm sure Charlotte will be no different. Being a hometown boy, I'm especially excited for this one."
The Cameron native even incorporated his home into AEW with a feud last year with Chris Jericho. He also incorporated it during his time with the WWE and TNA.
GIVING BACK TO THE NEXT WAVE OF TALENT
Having a storied career can make you a good teacher.
Hardy and his brother, Jeff, rose to notoriety in the late 90s and early 2000s competing for the then-WWF, now WWE, as the Hardy Boyz tag team.
His career would continue over the next 20 years with different promotions, including Ring of Honor, a return to the WWE and debuting on AEW on March 18, 2020.
"My career has been a blessing," he said.
Since his debut, Hardy said he has enjoyed working with a new crop of wrestlers and other talent being showcased on television and online to a new audience.
"This is something I've tried to do my entire career, especially since I've gotten older," he said. "There've been so many guys that have helped me along when I was a young act. I feel like now it's my responsibility to give back as well and I enjoy doing it. I thrive off it knowing I can give someone insider advice or giving them a thought that maybe they didn't think of and they can go out there and utilize it."
Hardy said he hopes to continue wrestling at a high level since it is his passion, but working with others within AEW is making this run in his career worthwhile.
One group that's caught the eye of Hardy is Private Party. That is a tag team in AEW made up of Isiah Kassidy and Marq Quen.
Along with that group, Hardy is mentoring other wrestlers like The Butcher, The Blade, Bunny, Angelico and Jack Evans.
A LONG TIME COMING
Hardy and AEW's Christian Cage are no strangers to competing against each other.
Both have expansive wrestling careers and are mentoring others in the promotion.
Hardy and Cage actually wrestled against each other on July 14 during night one of Fyter Fest.
Now, it looks like they be in the same arena again as both of their teams will compete in a trios match in Charlotte on July 28.
Hardy says he will be in the corner for Angelico and Private Party.
"I promise you, my issue with Christian Cage is not resolved yet," he said. "We have a lot more left to settle in AEW. I would almost guess, this is a little presumptuous, but I would guess Matt Hardy and Christian Cage will end up in a ring with a ladder before it's all said and done."
Wednesday is expected to be an action packed night of wrestling. Gates open at 6 p.m.
You can buy tickets for the event in Charlotte by clicking here.
You can learn more about AEW by visiting the company's website.