AEW President Tony Khan refused to answer several of Ariel Helwani’s questions in their 77 minute interview that hit the internet last night. Some of the topics that Khan has no interest in discussing include the status of CM Punk and The Elite following their backstage fight at All Out, MJF’s contract, Saraya’s ability to wrestle, talks with free agent Windham Rotunda aka Bray Wyatt, and even his reaction to seeing Cody Rhodes back in WWE.
But there were plenty of other topics left to discuss, so here’s my rundown of some of Khan’s more interesting responses.
First up, he says you’re full of shit if you don’t agree with this accusation regarding WWE:
“At one point, I think AEW Dark was the premiere tryout system in America...There are plenty of people who would tell you that WWE was recruiting off AEW Dark during the pandemic. And if anybody says that’s not true, okay, whatever, you’re full of shit.”
Khan would love to have more TV time to accommodate his very large roster, so he was very excited about Dynamite’s 15 minute overrun this week:
“The biggest thing is, I would love to have more time. Because I think it would pay off and everything would get stronger if there were more hours of TV.”
He said he doesn’t know if the trio of Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and Nick Khan are the right people to lead WWE going forward:
Helwani: “Do you think that’s the right trio to lead [WWE] in this new era?”
Tony: “I don’t know. Time will tell. It’s a really interesting time in the wrestling business though...things happen fast.”
Khan was asked if he ever saw AEW going head-to-head with WWE on a regular basis in the future. He suggested that decision is out of his hands:
“That’s not really my choice. Like, I don’t decide when the show is on.”
He then explains that he was only going to start doing AEW Dynamite in 2019 if it aired on Tuesday or Wednesday nights:
“Tuesday or Wednesday were the only days I was gonna do [Dynamite]...because I couldn’t do any other day. Friday I could also do, but I didn’t think it made sense unless it was where Rampage is. But I also didn’t think that should be the first show we did...I thought that made a lot of sense for the second show.”
Before moving on, I’d like to point out that the only logical reason I can think of for why Tony would prefer the very bad 10 pm to 11 pm ET time slot on Friday night for Rampage is because he thinks it would be even worse for AEW’s TV ratings if they went head-to-head against WWE SmackDown at 8 pm ET that night. So I’m skeptical of his claim that he has nothing to do with whether or not AEW goes head-to-head with WWE.
Finally, given all the recent stories about backstage drama in AEW, Khan was asked if the inmates are running the asylum. Keep in mind that this interview was recorded prior to last night’s breaking news about Andrade and Sammy Guevara’s backstage altercation at Dynamite. It’s also worth noting that earlier in the interview, Khan brought up a story of promoter Bill Watts threatening wrestlers with a gun to keep them in check:
“I’m not Bill Watts. I’m not enforcing things that way. I think the world has changed a lot. I have a lot of really good relationships with the people here...I don’t necessarily think that was the case [that the inmates were running the asylum], but I do think right now we’re in a really good place as a roster, as a company.”
He finishes up that answer by painting himself as a good boss compared to WWE’s Nick Khan:
“It’s pretty important to me to make sure that we’re surrounded by really great people, and most importantly, I want to make sure that everybody comes to work and feels like it’s a good place to work. And I want to make sure that everybody gets opportunities. But really, at the end of the day, everybody who’s come to AEW knows coming in there’s a sense of security here that they haven’t had, necessarily, at other wrestling promotions.
A lot of the people I’ve brought in were part of layoffs and cost-cutting. And not desperate cost-cutting, times are tight cost-cutting. It’s like record profits cost-cutting. And if I was making record profits, I probably wouldn’t be laying off dozens of people. So that’s some of what I’m talking about when I talk about compassion and being a good boss, and frankly, when I talk about I’m not necessarily the same guy as some person who shares my surname.”
Do you think Tony Khan is a better boss than some person who shares his surname, Cagesiders?