Tony Khan shocked the wrestling community this past week after having a meltdown on social media, leaving many to wonder if troubling times are ahead for All Elite Wrestling.
Before and after the Tuesday night ratings battle between AEW’s Dynamite and NXT, Khan went after several big names in WWE — Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Vince McMahon (twice), John Cena & The Undertaker — while detailing why his issues with the rival wrestling company have become so personal.
The eccentric AEW owner also seemed to take a dismissive swipe at a fan of his promotion, who also happens to be a politician and U.S. Navy veteran, after said fan expressed concerns over a controversial angle that played out on Dynamite.
Dave Meltzer, the longtime wrestling reporter who, in the past, has raised eyebrows with his effusive praise for AEW and its boss, was also taken aback by Khan’s erratic behavior. On his radio show, Meltzer likened Khan’s conduct to then-WCW Senior Vice President Eric Bischoff in the dying days of WCW, saying:
“You know what it felt like? And it was a scary thing because the memories of what happened next, it reminded me of when Eric Bischoff…WCW was still doing really good at this point, but when they started losing, you could see that everybody was just losing it on the WCW side.”
While Khan’s recent actions have alarmed many, it shouldn’t be surprising, given his prior social media history and public outbursts throughout his brief tenure in the pro wrestling business. Even before he jumped into the arena of scripted combat, Khan had a history of going off the rails when faced with objections and torment.
In 2019, Khan took time to address concerns with the direction of his father’s soccer club, Fulham FC. During the social discourse, Khan, the team’s vice-chairman, responded angrily to a fan who demanded that Khan leave the club, saying, “Never. I’ll die at this club. Go to hell.”
It was a startling retort coming from a team executive and the son of the club’s owner, but it wasn’t Khan’s only backlash against sports aficionados, especially after entering the wrestling industry.
Tony Khan, who earlier this year described himself as a huge wrestling fan who tries to think like a wrestling fan, took a run at wrestling fans for what he believed to be fake criticism regarding a lack of storytelling in AEW, telling Fightful in 2022:
“Wrestling fans are amazing, amazing, amazing people, but, I think in some ways…some wrestling fans are like ‘Why is this match happening? They shouldn’t do this match. There’s no build.’ Maybe it’s the start of something. How do you know?”
That Khan is defensive of his passion project is no surprise. But his responses have also been deemed in poor taste, such as the time when he took to Twitter (now X), to address former AEW star Big Swole’s claim that AEW lacked diversity.
The top 2 @AEW execs are brown (me & Megha)!! Jade, Bowens, Caster, Dante, Nyla, Isiah & Marq Quen all won on tv this month. The TBS Title Tournament has been very diverse. I let Swole’s contract expire as I felt her wrestling wasn’t good enough. #AEWRampage Street Fight TONIGHT! https://t.co/NprF6I7D6G— Tony Khan (@TonyKhan) January 1, 2022
“The top 2 @AEW execs are brown (me & Megha [Parekh, Chief Legal Counsel for AEW])!! Jade, Bowens, Caster, Dante, Nyla, Isiah & Marq Quen all won on tv this month. The TBS Title Tournament has been very diverse. I let Swole’s contract expire as I felt her wrestling wasn’t good enough. #AEWRampage Street Fight TONIGHT!”
Most fans were upset with Khan’s reply, especially as he dismissed Swole’s abilities as a performer while plugging the next episode of one of his television shows. But it wasn’t the first time Khan caught flack when addressing women and wrestling.
Weeks earlier, Tony Khan made what most saw as another tone-deaf response as he griped about not receiving his just due for his contributions to an all-female wrestling event held by the NWA. Then, he interrupted a female reporter during her questioning to say:
“I’m gonna cut off your question right there because I don’t think I get enough credit for what I did for the NWA show.”
But perhaps the most infamous of Khan’s critical rebuttals came after a tense interview with noted combat sports journalist Ariel Helwani. Helwani took Khan to task for refusing to answer questions about CM Punk and the events that took place after 2022’s All Out pay-per-view. That led to Khan insulting Helwani for appearing on WWE programming this past February, which saw AEW commentator Tony Schiavone get hit with Khan’s buckshot.
You’re a fraud @arielhelwani. You’re as legitimate of a reporter as @tonyschiavone24.
Then, in June, Tony Khan took another run at Helwani while denying a report that Tony and his father, Shad, were in talks to buy the MMA promotion, Bellator, saying:
“Was that something Ariel Helwani reported? Okay, well it would not be the first inaccurate thing Ariel Helwani has reported. That is completely inaccurate, but that’s Ariel Helwani for you.”
And yet, these reactions almost seem mild in comparison to his behavior in front of the cameras.
In 2022, Khan launched into an unhinged, obscenity-laced tirade when presented with Eric Bischoff’s assessment of CM Punk as being a box office flop.
In the clip above, Punk’s eyes widen during Khan’s diatribe. He even attempts to wind things down on his boss’s behalf. But as his frequent social media posts have shown in the past week, Tony Khan is difficult to settle down once he gets rolling.
And with a television rights deal looming large amid slumping ticket sales and TV ratings, and with no one to reel him in, Khan might be a runaway train headed for disaster, which could be bad news for every performer, fan, and employee riding aboard the AEW Express.