AEW’s getting ready for a huge show in New York tomorrow night (Sept. 21). Grand Slam — four hours of wrestling which will air on Dynamite and Rampage this week — is a big deal because it’s the company’s annual stadium show in New York City, and because it comes as AEW is trying to right the ship after the chaos that followed All Out earlier this month.
Several members of Team AEW are on the media trail promoting Grand Slam this week, and that includes owner/president/booker Tony Khan.
Khan’s sticking to his usual promotional strategies. He’s promised Grand Slam will be a special night unlike anything the company’s ever done and that no one will be disappointed when the night is done. He’s touted the success of the event as the highest grossing television date in AEW history. And, of course, he’s contrasting his product to the biggest company in wrestling history — WWE.
That came during his interview with New York News 12 (also the source of the “special night” hype). TK’s target was one a lot of people in the wrestling community have an issue with, even folks who are WWE fans... WWE’s relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
It came while talking about not just this week in New York, but also AEW’s upcoming run of shows in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Toronto:
“We’re running a lot of great shows around the Northeast. It’s so many great wrestling markets in one geographic region. I’ll say it: [It’s] the crown jewel of wrestling markets — the real crown jewel of wrestling markets, not some BS overseas in Saudi Arabia. The real crown jewel — New York City — is where you want to be.”
As mentioned above, there are plenty of detractors of WWE’s contract to put on two “sportswashing” shows in Saudi Arabia every year. TK bringing that up in this context still feels forced, however. It’s not like The ‘E hasn’t or isn’t about to run most of those same markets (Philly and Boston are the sites of WWE’s next two non-Saudi premium live events). It’s also not like Tony is really diving into the issues surrounding Vince McMahon’s arrangement with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, like the KSA’s track record of human rights abuses.
But he is getting some headlines he might not have gotten otherwise ahead of Grand Slam. Is that worth some eye-rolling from critics?
TK’s decided it is. Feel free to tell us if you agree in the comments below.