Exclusive: AEW’s first “House Rules” live gate was just under $100,000

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We filed a public records request to the City of Troy, Ohio for information about AEW’s first “House Rules” house show at city-operated Hobart Arena, last Saturday, March 18.

Here are some of the facts we learned from our request:

  • Gross ticket revenue: $99,675
  • Paid ticket sales: 2,929
  • Average ticket price: $34
  • Ticket scan count: 2,773
  • Gross merchandise sales: $24,640
  • Merchandise sales per paid ticket: $8.41
  • Merchandise units sold: 718
  • AEW’s cut of merchandise sales was 80% after taxes and fees: $17,944

Ticket revenue of just under $100,000 was driven in part by some general admission ticket prices being as low as $20. The most expensive ringside tickets were priced at $75. For context, AEW’s highest-grossing ticket events have surpassed $1 million.

We obtained merchandise sales information for this event apparently because the venue ran those sales for AEW.

We also obtained email communications between AEW personnel and city personnel, which indicated a company called Variety Attractions cooperated to put on the event. Variety Attractions is a talent-buying and entertainment consulting company. They work with various artists, agencies, and clients to provide entertainment for different types of events such as fairs, festivals, colleges, and corporate events.

Given Variety Attractions’ involvement, it’s possible that this event was a “bought” show or similar arrangement, that may have reduced financial risk for AEW. A bought show is when an event promoter pays a flat fee to an artist or, in this case, a wrestling company, to put on a live event. The promoter then keeps all or most of the ticket revenue and assumes all of the expenses associated with the event. 

This may have been desirable for AEW because house shows are difficult to run profitably due to lack of media revenues, like TV rights fees or pay-per-view sales, to offset expenses. WWE, despite its overall financial success, has struggled to report positive operating income for its live events division in recent years, before and after touring was paused due to the pandemic.

However, we didn’t obtain information about expenses involved in this event such as venue rental, production costs, travel costs, talent compensation, or other costs. Therefore, we can’t say whether this event was profitable for AEW.

As part of our request, we received a complete itemized breakdown of merchandise sales. The only talent-specific merchandise items that were sold at the event were T-shirts for Jon Moxley, Britt Baker, and Orange Cassidy, a single design T-shirt for each. The rest, based on the item descriptions, were AEW-branded merchandise items. AEW-branded items included T-shirts, hoodies, hats, and other items.

There were 82 shirts sold for Moxley, 78 sold for Orange Cassidy, 60 for Baker, and 498 AEW-branded items sold.

Emails indicated former WWE ring announcer Tony Chimel was involved with the show. He posted a short tweet about the show the next day. PWInsider previously reported Chimel and John Thorne, promoter of Absolute Intense Wrestling, worked at the show.

Above: A portion of the ticket audit for AEW “House Rules” on March 18, 2023, indicating $99,675 in ticket sales, as of 8:40 pm on the night of the event. The yellow highlight is a part of the record we received.

Above: A report from an application for ticket vendor Etix, showing 2,773 tickets were scanned as of 8:38 pm ET for AEW “House Rules” on March 18, 2023.

Above: Merchandise invoice for AEW “House Rules”, March 18, 2023 showing merchandise revenue generated and paid attendance. Contact information for a city employee was blacked out by Wrestlenomics.

Above: Pie chart showing a breakdown of venue merchandise sales by brand at AEW “House Rules” on March 18, 2023

Brandon Thurston

Brandon Thurston has written about wrestling business since 2015. He’s also worked as an independent wrestler and trainer.

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