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Tony Khan on AEW vs. WWE, WBD deal, Collision secrecy, more

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AEW has a pay-per-view event on Sunday (May 28), and this afternoon Tony Khan spoke to the media about Double or Nothing. The owner/president/booker of the world’s second biggest wrestling operation also fielded a variety of other questions the wrestling press had for him.

One thing they did not ask him about was CM Punk, or his apparently-no-longer-estranged star’s involvement in AEW’s new Saturday show, Collision. It’s not clear if they were told those topics were off limits.

Here’s some highlights of Khan’s answers to the questions he was asked:

• Asked about the rumored roster split AEW will implement with Collision’s premiere on June:

“I haven’t given a lengthy explanation yet for what I’m planning regarding the future of the roster and how people will be allocated across Dynamite and Collision and our other shows. It’s a great question, certainly. I can see why wrestling fans all over the world would be interested and curious about that. That’s frankly by design that we want to build that curiosity in and get people wondering exactly what you’re asking, ‘What’s the future of the AEW roster, and what does this all mean going forward after Double or Nothing?’ It’s a really good question and something we’ll be excited to follow up on.”

• Contrary to rumors about a new or extended deal with Warner Bros Discovery for Collision, the new show seems to have been added to AEW’s existing rights contract:

“The scope of the deal, as it is, the length is the same. I don’t want to get too deep into those conversations, but the length of the term is the same and this is an addition to what we had already put together. Everybody was really excited about the success of AEW on TBS and TNT. They reached out to us and gave us a great opportunity.

“I think it spoke highly of AEW that this show and the idea of more AEW programming goes all the to the top to Mr. Zaslav [WBD CEO David Zaslav], who is one of the most powerful and intelligent in all of media. He likes what we’re doing with AEW on TBS and TNT and it was literally his idea for there to be more AEW on TNT. I’m very grateful for that. We’re going to do our best to make sure Collision is a great show and also maintaining a great show with Rampage and also take Dynamite to new heights. That’s a great challenge for us and we’re really looking forward to it.”

• TK mostly side-stepped a question on how a Saturday night show works with his long-standing vow to not go head-to-head with the NFL, which has Saturday games in the later part of its schedule each year, by saying Collision won’t air opposite football all season long. He also claimed, “AEW is on the radar of the top NFL executives” for ratings and attention.

• He confirmed that Women’s champion Jamie Hayter is injured, reminding those on the call this has been addressed frequently on television. Khan said Hayter is willing to compete at Double or Nothing, but didn’t directly say whether or not she would defend against Toni Storm as planned.

Sabu is currently only in AEW on the proverbial one shot deal, but the door is open for me. Tony’s father, Jacksonville Jaguars’ owner Shad Khan, texted his son when the ECW legend appeared on Dynamite as he remembered seeing him at shows they attended when TK was a kid.

• Khan is definitely being “intentionally secret” about all things Collision. He also confirmed that Dark and Elevation were done due to the amended WBD dea.

Like NXT’s Shawn Michaels, Khan was asked about competing with WWE’s Battleground show on Sunday:

“It’s been that feeling from day one, since we launched a TV show. It actually, probably changed a little bit on April 14, 2021, and now with this, it feels like the old days in some ways. I’m always very eager to compete in whatever arena I’m in. I really love the competition in pro wrestling as long as it’s done with some ethical standards.

“People running events at some similar times, I don’t know if that’s necessarily unethical. I don’t have a big problem with it. I wish everybody the best, and I expect we will do the best show on Sunday. I think there will be a big audience for AEW Double or Nothing. Certainly, the spirit of competition is something we’ve dealt with since the launch of AEW, and I have never really had any problem with it as long as it’s an ethical competition, and I don’t think it has always been coming from the other side.”

• More people will be helping out in creative with the addition of Collision. Khan confirmed the report that Bryan Danielson is helping out on the new show, and ran down a list of names which also includes others we’re heard recently such as QT Marshall, Pat Buck, Jerry Lynn, Dean Malenko, Madison Rayne, Sarah Stock, BJ Whitmer, and Will Washington.

• He thinks Stardom wrestlers working this year’s Forbidden Door is a possibity.

• AEW would consider running more PPV each year, but only if it made sense for their partnership with WBD.

• Sting had not given TK a retirement date, and is free to wrestle in AEW for as long as he wants to. Khan said Sting’s retirement match is one of the biggest moments possible in pro wrestling right now.

• When New Japan asked for a star for the NJPW Strong Women’s tournament, he suggested Willow Nightingale. He praised her development, specifically mentioning her ROH Women’s title match against Athena.

• No one knows if there were/are plans for Mercedes Moné in AEW, “except Mercedes and [Khan].”

• No update on broadcast plans for All In, or on All Out plans in general beyond that it will be a PPV.

• While Ring of Honor will be somewhere indie talent makes appearances and gets tryouts, Khan doesn’t see it as a secondary or developmental brand.

H/t PWInsider, Fightful & Wrestling Observer

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