Forbes recently released the above video interview with AEW owner/president/booker Tony Khan today (May 16). It appears to be a longer version of a conversation TK had with the magazine last year, but much of it is general enough that it’s still relevant. The section making the rounds on the wrestle web comes from the three minute closing section, “Tony Khan’s Creative Process”.
As you read this quote, you’ll understand why...
“When we started AEW Dynamite in October 2019, I had never officially written a wrestling TV show. All of my experience writing TV shows and wrestling had been exclusively imaginary and all the episodes of Dynamite and Rampage, for that matter, were shows that I had been creating at home for fun as a hobby.
“When it came to practical TV writing experience, I didn’t have it. So I did lean more on people around me and I would try to trust my instincts but it’s hard when you don’t have as much experience. And I do take a lot of pride in the booking. I work with a lot of really smart people. What I think I do a good job of is being organized, dealing with a lot of different people, and going to for ideas. I have a lot of great creative minds that are in the company that I can have full time access to like Chris Jericho and Christian Cage, and Jon Moxley has great ideas. And now CM Punk and Bryan Danielson, Adam Cole have come in with great ideas... I try to keep it all organized and balanced, and I’ve found it’s helped me a lot writing the shows myself.
“I don’t really understand the idea of having a lot of different people write the show and then a person would go in the day of and rip it to pieces and try to come up with new ideas. To be honest, when I hear about somebody going in and they have a TV show on Monday that they rip up, my first thought is, ‘What were you doing all weekend?’ Because I work my ass off on the weekends.
“So, I don’t do everything myself but I do make the final decision on everything. I put the format together, I put an outline of what the show is going to be for Dynamite and Rampage. I write it by hand. And I don’t understand why you’re gonna come in and rip up a show that you should have a pretty good idea what it is, you should have approved it where Monday we know what we’re doing. Things change on the day of the show, not that I never change my mind on the day of — I do. But not where I’m gonna change everything. I might change one or two things around on instinct or because something happened.
“But for the most part, I like to have a good idea of what is going to be on a show next week, and the week after. I really believe that the fans like that we try our best not to insult their intelligence. I do try to make the shows compelling, and also logical. And I think that’s one of the challenges, because a lot of times people come to you with ideas and it’s hard because everyone’s got their own approaches and their own philosophies, but there’s a tone to the show. So I really just want people to go out and make the points and keep the stories going. But I’m not so autocratic that I want to control every word somebody says on television. And I think that’s also why some of our interviews, our storytelling, and promos are really strong, I believe.”
Most folks reading about wrestling on Al Gore’s internet catch the reference, but if you don’t, he’s contrasting his style to the frequent rumors we hear about how Raw and SmackDown are written — and re-written after Vince McMahon tears up the script his team came up with, often at the last minute.
Which, regardless of what you think about the product of TK’s efforts, his way does sound a lot less stressful.