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Tony Khan on CM Punk’s status, Forbidden Door’s future, booking with NJPW, ROH TV & AEW streaming deals

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It’s Wednesday, and you know what that means! Or one of the things that often means... AEW head honcho Tony Khan on the press trail!

Ahead of a “Road Rager” edition of Dynamite tonight (June 15), and with the company’s first ever cross-promotional PPV coming up next Sunday, TK recently did an interview with ComicBook.com’s Connor Casey. He also made one of his regular calls into Busted Open.

MJF and Jeff Hardy weren’t discussed — not that there’s much to say on the latter, or anything Khan would say on the former. But several interesting topics were touched upon, so let’s run them down...

A star the boss would talk about is his World champion. He declined to give ComicBook.com a timetable for CM Punk’s return with a surgically repaired leg, but...

“I’m very hopeful and optimistic though, and his surgery was successful, and he’ll be back. I don’t want to put an exact date on it and put any expectations on him. But I do think we’re very optimistic about it and I think Punk is optimistic about it too, which is great.”

Speaking of champs, while discussing the addition of the All-Atlantic championship to programming that already includes five AEW (six if you count the FTW) and five Ring of Honor (six if the Six-Man belts are still a thing) titles, TK talked with Casey about getting all those belts on his programming, even if that meant YouTube shows like Dark and Elevation. Regarding the ROH titles, he added:

“But also I look forward to hopefully getting the Ring of Honor weekly TV back. And restarted under our management and hopefully, the best TV we could possibly do, and on a great outlet. And that’s something we’re still working on. And I think when there’s a weekly home for Ring of Honor, then there will be that much more programming where these championships can live.”

Weekly ROH TV would add to Khan’s growing library of content, which is key to getting AEW on a streaming service. He told ComicBook.com that’s still under discussion, but didn’t have any real update:

“As we’ve developed more content, growing the library, I think, and the demand has grown for a variety of reasons. I think all the stars are aligning, AEW as a streaming service has more potential value in the future. And then the purchase of Ring of Honor, now to have access to one of the best wrestling libraries in North America with some of today’s top stars and some of the top stars in the past few decades, and those thousands of hours of Ring of Honor footage in conjunction with the hundreds of hours of AEW footage we’ve assembled and continued to assemble on a weekly basis, week in, week out, and the growing demand from our fans. I think all these factors contribute to why this would be a great time for AEW to launch a streaming service. And it’s a conversation that I’ve had and continue to actively have with Warner Brothers Discovery, who are one of the worldwide leaders in streaming and sports content.”

He hopes that Forbidden Door will be an annual event, even as he concedes it’s challenging to book across companies:

“[New Japan’s longtime head booker] Gedo and I, generally anything that involves AEW & New Japan, I think we’re both going to have to agree on what the matchup is, and what the ideas are for the show. And in general, that’s what we’ve been doing for over a year now. And it’s worked really well. It started with AEW wrestlers going there and I had some thoughts and ideas about what they should or shouldn’t be doing. And then New Japan started sending wrestlers here later in 2021, and for over a year, the Forbidden Door has gone both ways with wrestlers coming in from both companies and out and working for each other. So it is different when we’re working together like this and it’s been a great collaboration for a long time now with AEW and New Japan, and I like working with Gedo.”

As an example, Tony told Dave LaGreca and the Busted Open crew (h/t Fightful) he put the kibosh on Forbidden Door’s interim AEW World title showdown between Jon Moxley & Hiroshi Tanahashi several times in the past:

“That’s a match that has been talked about in New Japan for a long time, well over a year. There’s some backstory as to why it never happened. I would never allow it to happen... They tried to do it so many times, Moxley vs. Tanahashi, and I’ve always been there to stop it from happening because it’s such a huge match and we had to be involved if it was going to happen. Lo and behold, at a time when everything changed, CM Punk won the world title, he gets injured, we have to set up a huge match to crown an Interim World Champion.

“Going back to the relationship between AEW and New Japan, it’s been building towards this and it’s fate. Moxley vs. Tanahashi was a match that was supposed to happen many times and it never happened. Now, it’s the right time and right place. It could have happened a lot of times and heaven knows I stepped in and tried to stop it and now it’s finally happening at the perfect time for AEW and New Japan and all the fans.”

That certainly tracks, as Mox has been on a collision course with the Ace of the Universe for a while, and it always managed to be something other than a singles match between the two. Hard to argue with Chicago’s United Center being a great place for it to finally happen.

TK has a promoter’s knack for using a lot of words to not say too much, but there’s some good information in here... I think. Let us know what you think, Cagesiders.

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