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Tony Khan talks the ‘tough choices’ he’s making on expiring AEW contracts

AP via Bleacher Report

The rosters of pro wrestling companies are always a hot topic among fans. The arrival of AEW on the scene, and the shifting of WWE’s talent strategy has made it even hotter.

Vince McMahon’s company has cut a lot of people over the last couple years. Tony Khan’s has signed some of those, and the addition of ex-WWE wrestlers to AEW’s core group and other young, international or independent prospects they’ve recruited over the three years of their existence has made it a challenge to find television time for everyone.

With recent signings like Mercedes Martinez and Keith Lee, that challenge is only going to greater. But there will be subtractions from the All Elite roster. Khan has said he won’t release people mid-contract like WWE does, but deals expire. Right now, end dates on three year agreements signed when the company was founded in 2019 are coming up. We already know they won’t all be renewed.

TV Insider’s Scott Fishman asked TK about that this week. Here’s what he said:

“When we started a lot of people had contracts that were a couple of years long and a lot of them are coming up. I have really tried hard to be very considerate of the people on the roster, especially going through the pandemic. That encompassed a long period of time where we were still in our first year of television and going into our second. I kept a lot of people under contract even though I wasn’t necessarily using them on television because I wanted them to still have paying work, which was hard to come by for wrestling during the pandemic where there weren’t any independent shows. Really only two places were running and the other place was cutting people left and right. I did want to give some job security to people. Now with so many wrestlers coming in, I can’t renew all the contracts. I’ve had to make some tough choices based on ability, fan response, or both. I try to maintain the best roster I can for the company and fans.”

Some have wondered why Tony Khan’s roster management isn’t bemoaned the same way WWE’s Nick Khan’s budget cuts are.

To me the answer is fairly obvious. It’s hard to slam someone who is making good on their commitments, even in the face of unexpected circumstances like COVID and the empty arena era of wrestling it caused*. But that won’t stop the debate (it’s hard to get partisans to stop arguing in bad faith).

At some point, TK will make a “tough choice” about a wrestler the internet adores, or someone fans believe was misused by AEW. That’s when the response will actually be interesting.

* Especially when there are other things to slam TK for.

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