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Tony Khan on how AEW booking serves fans in ways WWE fails to

AEW has been doing a lot of press this week to hype tonight’s big Blood & Guts edition of Dynamite.

That’s meant a lot of questions about their company - and more than a few about the one that a lot of people think is synonymous with pro wrestling (even if its Chairman & CEO doesn’t like that descriptor).

WWE came up while AEW President Tony Khan was talking to Entrepreneur’s Kenny Herzog. It led to a critique of Raw and SmackDown booking that will resonate with a lot of fans, even as it frustrates people who wish the entire industry would stop fanning the flames of a wrestling war.

KH: You mention serving the fans. Your ultimate competiton, WWE, gets some criticism for being disinegnuous that its product exists to serve its fans. How do you convince your audience that those claims about AEW are genuine?

TK: There’s a lot of differences. I don’t do really cheap DQ [disqualification] finishes to prolong something. There are other wrestling programs where you might see multiple DQs and countouts in a week. I believe in giving the fans a finish to the match. I believe in not false-advertising programs and people. I might hype something I really believe in, but there’s a big difference between hyping something and false-advertising outright, and I’ve never done the latter. I think that’s why we have a lot of goodwill with the audience. Following through on the things you say you’re going to do and trying to deliver a show that’s in the spirit of what the fans want to see week in, week out and offering fresh matches and fresh programs is a big part of it. You know, not doing the same matches 17 weeks in a row over and over again.

Critics would say that Khan is something of a habitual line-stepper when it comes to over-hyping things, but promoters are gonna promote. You could also say that AEW over-relies on a few creative tropes of their own, like post-match brawls. Overall, it’s all subjective. Different fans will like different products, and different presentations.

It seems a significant number of fans like to hear and read AEW stars & executives voice the complaints they have about WWE. Otherwise, I think they’d take the high road more often in interviews like this. A portion of Herzog’s chat with Khan is about how he uses analytics and data to run AEW. If he had numbers that said taking shots at the sports entertainment company out of Connecticut turned people off, he’d probably stop doing it.

Until then, expect to hear Chris Jericho & friends continue to answer these questions in slightly antagonistic fashion.

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