Joey Janela, who recently took part in a “social distancing” match, had the most direct Tiger King reference with a Twitter video. Going stir crazy in quarantine without a way to waste his money, Janela took to craigslist looking for business opportunities.
He was answered by Jeff Lowe, the man who currently owns the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park. He offered him an investment opportunity and the chance to “live the high life” with him. He even name-dropped White Claw, Janela’s beverage of choice.
Janela double-dipped on April Fool’s posts. He announced that he would be leaving his “Bad Boy” gimmick behind, becoming “the Pasta King” Razul Rigatoni. The change was endorsed with “quotes” from Tony Khan and Cody, who didn’t get Janela’s original gimmick but did get pasta. Plans for “the Pasta King” included adding a Guy Fieri inspired food travel show as a third hour of AEW programming on TNT.
Not to be outdone on the Tiger King front, former AEW Champion Chris Jericho got in on the fun on Instagram. After dubbing his rival “Cody Exotic” in a promo on Dynamite, Jericho put the image out into the world.
AEW’s social media page capped off the Tiger King shenanigans. It announced a big themed gimmick match titled the King of Tigers match. The match would feature 18 wrestlers and 8 tigers in a steel cage. The winner would be crowned the King of Tigers Champion.
As perfect as this is as a parody of over-the-top gimmick matches, it’s not without precedent. AEW’s spiritual forebearer WCW had the Chamber of Horrors cage match, where the loser was hooked up to an electric chair. Even WWE had the Kennel from Hell Match, a double cage match with dogs inside the second cage. They’re considered two of the worst matches of all time, so it’s best AEW only uses them as inspiration for April Fool’s jokes.
AEW also played host to an April Fool’s joke that had nothing to do with Netflix’s smash hit. It announced that a recently formed trio would become a quartet, with Excalibur joining Death Triangle to make them Death Square — or Cuadrado de la Muerte in the Lucha Brothers’ native tongue. The brief union of three masked wrestlers in AEW gave Excalibur a platform to promote a good cause. Excalibur urged fans to fill out the 2020 Census. He then immediately resigned from the group, making them a triangle once again.
AEW April Fool’s jokes showed it is social media savvy. Finding ways to engage audiences via social media when everyone’s quarantining is important for companies in every entertainment medium. While there are some outliers from superstars in WWE, AEW is doing a much better job of doing that in professional wrestling than anyone else.
AEW took advantage of the Tiger King craze on social media for April Fool's day, continuing its social media dominance over WWE.