John Pollock & Brandon Thurston did a great job getting some insights from AEW’s owner, president & head of creative in between his usual promotional soundbites. Their various attempts to get Khan to address any of the backstage happenings & negotiations around Collision star CM Punk got nowhere. Even general ones like, “Are you at all surprised Punk will be returning Saturday, or were you always confident he’d remain with the company?” were answered with hype for June 17’s main event.
Towards the end of that, however, TK did honestly tell Pollock:
“Obviously, there are things that happened outside of the ring that you might want me to talk about that I can not talk about, but I would love to talk about the wrestling show.”
Pollock said he respected that there’s a lot Tony can’t talk about, but brought up the valid point that many fans might be tuning in Saturday night to see what Punk says about “the elephant in the room” that is All Out/Brawl Out. Khan responded that the audience would hear from Punk, but quickly transitioned to talking about future storylines and matches:
“It’s a great point. I think people are gonna want to hear from CM Punk, and people are gonna want to see him get involved in big matches, and jump into big stories. And I think definitely the rivalry between CM Punk and Samoa Joe — very interesting... Certainly though, people are always gonna go back to that rivalry between CM Punk and Samoa Joe.
“People have been talking about it, even before Samoa Joe arrived in AEW, and not long after that, CM Punk got injured... I do think this match is a huge main event, and people are gonna be very interested to see what happens. It’s very, very exciting for us to be able to put this match on the first episode of Collision on Saturday.”
Punk’s rivalry with Joe, which stretches back to the early days of Ring of Honor, was something Khan returned to throughout the interview — possibly giving credence to reports that Punk wanted to restart that feud early in his comeback run for AEW.
The conversation wasn’t all about Punk, or trying to get TK to talk backstage drama & politics. With Wrestlenomics’ Thurston asking questions, the interview also had a heavy business slant.
Asked about the future of Battle of the Belts with Collision bringing us two more hours of AEW programming every week, Khan said the quarterly specials will continue, but he’s still in discussions with TNT about what night they’ll air on, how long they’ll be, etc. Thurston also brought up talk that TBS & TNT parent company Warner Bros. Discovery could be interested in bringing WWE product to their channels. TK wouldn’t comment, but did emphasize the commitment WBD’s already made in AEW:
“I don’t want to talk too much about the contract we have with Warner Bros. Discovery, but I definitely have some pretty favorable things in there, and given the commitment that Warner Bros. Discovery is making for AEW with Collision and Dynamite, I think it really shows that they’re fully committed to AEW. We just had AEW All Access also launch on Max [WBD’s recently rebranded streaming service, fka HBO Max], in addition to being on TBS every Wednesday night like tonight, and on TNT every Friday and now every Saturday night, starting this week with the launch of Collision.”
Asked if WBD CEO David Zaslav has become a wrestling fan, Khan focused on how big of an AEW cheerleader the Zaslav’s been:
“I really believe David Zaslav has been a very, very strong supporter of AEW. I believe when he came in and said, ‘I want two more hours of AEW on Saturday nights,’ that was one of the biggest votes of confidence that you could give us, and it was certainly very favorable for us to hear that he wanted that, and then to be able to deliver in a very quick turnaround and put together what I think is going to be a great, great show with AEW Collision every Saturday night.”
There’s been some question about what the addition of Collision to TNT’s line-up tells us about AEW’s overall deal with WBD. Thurston tried a roundabout way to get an answer there, asking if viewers can expect to find AEW content on WBD channels next January. That would likely mean a one year option in their current deal had been picked up, keeping Dynamite, et al on TNT & TBS through the end of 2024. Khan would only say fans should expect to see AEW shows on WBD networks in January — and for many years to come.
You can check out Post’s entire conversation with Tony Khan here.