With Team AEW doing a full media blitz ahead of Grand Slam tonight (Sept. 21) in New York City, we knew some interviewers would ask about everything that contributed to & went on the post-All Out drama. When the interview subject is head honcho Tony Khan, there also figured to be a question or two about the futures of the men suspended for brawling on the morning of Sept. 5.
Now, we didn’t expect to get answers... and certainly no direct ones. Maxwell Jacob Friedman handled it pretty deftly when he was interviewed by Ariel Helwani on Monday.
It’s been TK’s turn the last couple days. He’s not telling us much either. He’s certainly not saying nothing as entertainingly as MJF did. But maybe we can glean something from what AEW’s owner, president and booker has said.
Before his Tuesday appearance on San Diego’s Rock 105.3’s The Show, hosts Eddie and Thor recapped much of what happened after the Labor Day weekend PPV. When they asked about Punk’s gripebomb, Khan focused on the positive:
“Well, I can’t really comment on any of that. I will rather refer to the Tournament of Champions and AEW Grand Slam... since All Out, we’ve really been at our strongest point, our strongest run of business in a year. Really, we’re right there with the strongest business we’ve ever done... But I’ve gotta tell you, what’s happening in the ring is the most exciting stuff in wrestling right now.”
Pressed about “what’s going on behind the scenes”, Tony stuck to his guns:
“Well I think what’s going on is the best show in pro wrestling, tomorrow night on TBS, AEW Dynamite Grand Slam. It’s gonna be Jon Moxley vs. the American Dragon Bryan Danielson in the finals of the Grand Slam Tournament of Champions tomorrow night. Since All Out, it’s been very newsworthy shows, and they’ve also been some of our best shows and our best ratings. That’s for a reason - because AEW has put on great matches. Right now, there’s a lot of excitement in the company, not only with all the big championship fights, people very excited about the return of MJF. That’s pretty huge. That’s one of the main things we’re focused on in AEW...”
One more attempt was made using MJF, as Khan was asked if Punk’s fight took away from his return. You can probably guess how that went:
“I’m not going to comment again on that, but I would say that MJF’s return has been a massive needle mover for AEW, has generated a ton of interest. Having MJF back on Wednesday night Dynamite... has been great. I think that’s another reason why we’ve seen a great ratings bump. He’s a great star and a huge part of AEW.”
Having run that gauntlet, Khan faced a friendlier task on In The Kliq. Host Baby Huey alluded the situation that’s dominated headlines when talking about things like Jon Moxley skipping his vacation for the tournament. This approach actually got a bit more than a no comment, but TK still quickly pivoted to promoting this week and beyond:
“Certainly there were some unexpected circumstances on the run up to Grand Slam, and we tried to make the best of it. And I think we have...”
The discussion of changing plans came up again when Huey asked about a big program AEW was setting up that now seems unlikely to ever happen — The Elite vs. The Undisputed Elite. Maybe it’s nothing, or just hype. But it’s interesting that when asked about what might have been there, Khan doesn’t rule out it happening someday...
“It’d be interesting to go back and think about it. Certainly, while it hasn’t come to fruition, you know, you never know. I certainly wouldn’t want to rule out the possibility of some day that potentially happening. But on the other hand, you mentioned some injuries and unforeseen circumstances that have taken place. But those are all great wrestlers and two great trios, absolutely.”
Probably nothing to read into regarding Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks’ statuses, as Bobby Fish’s departure and injuries to Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly present equally large obstacles to revisiting that program.
But we’re just mining some quotes for you. You tell us what, if anything, you make of them in the comments below.