Hope and speculation are the main things we have to go on when it comes to All Elite Wrestling at this point.
We’re still a month away from the new company’s first pay-per-view (PPV). We have some ideas about their roster, but there’s still some question about who’s exclusive and how it will function. There are rumors about schedules and television, but nothing concrete.
It leaves fans, interested observers and doubters all anxious for something concrete to sink their teeth into. And... you won’t get much in the way of fresh, specific details from this interview Chris Van Vliet did with AEW President & CEO Tony Khan! But he did say a lot, and some of that was new, so... dig in!
On being compared to WCW: “I don’t want to compare us to any other wrestling company. We’re AEW and we’re doing something very different. What’s great is what we will offer, which will bring people back to 20 years ago, and there will be a major alternative. There will be a second company with great production values and great exposure, it’ll be easy to watch and give you shows with the top wrestlers and the best matches on a regular basis. That’s something that hasn’t been readily available to people outside of WWE in a long time, almost 20 years.”
Since he was a big ECW fan, will AEW’s product be more edgy? “I think we are doing some very edgy things and I think what you see on our social media is not necessarily what you will see in our television product which I do expect to be much more advertiser friendly than ECW. But that doesn’t mean that we won’t push the envelope sometimes, that doesn’t mean that you won’t see really exciting high spots. A lot of what made ECW great was the work and we’re going to have the best caliber in ring stuff in the world.”
His 5-year business plan for AEW: “The 5-year plan for AEW is that we will have built up a brand, we will have built up a roster, we will have established ourselves as a top brand in wrestling for people who want fast paced exciting action and want a product that is more of a sporting based product. I’ve talked a lot about how I want wins and losses to matter because at the end of the day, that’s why you’re having the match. There’s going to be a winner and a loser and it matters. It should matter to your standing in the company and it should matter to your standing in your chase for the championship which at the end of the day is what everyone is trying to attain.”
Does he want to have an on-air role with AEW? “I have thought about it and I’m not going to do it. We have some of the greatest on-air performers in the world and look, I am who I am in the promotion. I am the president and the CEO and the founder of this company but it’s not going to be me all over TV and I’m not going to be doing a lot of interviews or backstage segments on television.”
On AEW’s TV deal: “I have negotiated some things and I am very excited about what we are doing. I do think it’s very important to give wrestling fans a better quality of life. I think 20 years ago was honestly in many ways not nearly as good of a time to be a wrestling fan. There was not nearly as much wrestling out there and available if you were really looking for it. If you are really looking for great wrestling now there has never been a better time to be a wrestling fan.”
AEW’s schedule will be very wrestler friendly: “For us, I want to offer a quality of life and a work/life balance that is the best and is unparalleled in the business for the best quality of life. What that means is less time on the road, but still working regularly, still performing on Pay Per View and on television in the future. I believe you don’t need to spend 6 days on the road to make a good living as a wrestler or 5 days on the road per week necessarily.”
Could CM Punk sign with AEW after he recently made his in-ring return? “He’s a great talent and a great performer, I don’t know if that was Phil in the ring, but he’s great. I’m from Illinois and I grew up around Chicago sports and he’s obviously very popular there.”
The highlight which stood out to me, as you can probably tell by my headline, was the comment about television not being like their social media. This comes as part of an answer about the ECW influence on AEW TV, and I wouldn’t really describe what Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks do online as “edgy” really - at least not the way Paul Heyman’s promotion was. But Being The Elite (does YouTube count as social? Khan and Van Vliet don’t specify) and the Executive Vice-Presidents’ social media presence is a lot of what made ALL IN a success, and why there’s an All Elite Wrestling. Is not modeling TV on some of those same things a mistake?
We won’t know until there is more product from AEW to judge. Right now, we just have ideas. Which are great! But they don’t pay the bills.
Let us know what you think of Khan’s latest talk about his ideas below, Cagesiders.