AEW is back on PPV this weekend with Sun., Oct. 1’s WrestleDream. And that means owner/president/booker Tony Khan was back chatting with the media on a conference call.
Given that WWE announced the signing of his former TBS champion earlier today (Sept. 26), Khan was hit with a question about Jade Cargill early in the call. His answer was very similar to the one he gave last week while promoting Grand Slam:
“I have only positive things to say about Jade. It’s been great having her in AEW. She is always welcome here. She’s had a great run with us, and has a great career I’m sure in front of her. Wishing her the best in the future.”
There are also questions surrounding the status of a star AEW signed away from WWE. Adam Cole noticeably hurt his lower leg/ankle/foot while jumping off the ramp during a run-in at Dynamite Grand Slam, but we haven’t heard much since. AEW is still promoting Cole & MJF’s Ring of Honor Tag Team title defense for Sunday, but beyond that TK wouldn’t give us much beyond a reason to tune in to this Wednesday’s show:
“... as of now, that is still slotted for the event. And Adam Cole... he was a little bit ginger on that leg, obviously, I think people saw. But we’ll address that on Dynamite. Very excited for tomorrow’s Dynamite... it should be a great show... and we’ll address Adam Cole and everything happening at WrestleDream on tomorrow night’s Dynamite.”
Another point of interest was the WrestleDream promo which aired on Collision last Saturday night, and specifically Khan’s voiceover saying the Antonio Inoki tribute show in Seattle would “end a chapter in wrestling history and begin a new era in AEW”:
That line apparently triggered enough speculation among fans that Khan had purchased New Japan Pro-Wrestling that he was asked about it on the call:
“I’m a little surprised at how that speculation picked up and the, specifically, the transactional nature of it.
“We have such a great partnership right now and we’re doing such great things with New Japan Pro Wrestling. I was a little surprised to see that. Overall, I’ve really enjoyed working with New Japan since nearly two years. We’ve had two great Forbidden Door events and we’ve sent a number of top AEW stars to Japan to wrestle on Wrestle Kingdom and top shows. We’ve worked together in the US. There are people in AEW who have helped develop New Japan and people from New Japan who have helped develop AEW or Ring of Honor. I want to continue that partnership for a very long time and right now we have something very good going.
“I’m a little surprised by the speculation, I don’t know where it came from. It’s probably a good time to have a lot of speculation on the eve of WrestleDream, and I’m glad we got a lot of people talking, certainly that one video, with all the great clips of Mr. Inoki and top stars of today, I thought it got people talking and it was a positive thing.”
Which, as many have pointed out, does not include the word “no” or directly refute the speculation. He was given another chance later when asked if he wanted to clarify his line from the video, and he didn’t want to. Khan got a little closer to denying he bought NJPW, but still doesn’t outright say he didn’t:
“I definitely have no intention of clarifying those comments. I want people to order the pay-per-view. I think the internet kind of ran away with the speculation based on — I don’t know what. I’d love for somebody to go back and look for the first person to say that was and track back where the speculation came from.
“Certainly, I don’t know if that particular aspect of it is very credible. There are dots you can connect in wrestling and there are things I’m very excited about that we’ve been doing, and I’ve made bold proclamations before and I felt I’ve been proven right by them. We’ve come a really long way, we’ve taken big swings at doing new things this year, in particular, 2023 has been our most adventurous year and I want to keep doing adventurous things and make fans talk about AEW and hopefully making new fans of AEW.
“I think we’ve debunked some speculation and I’d be happy to debunk the speculation that is what I was implying, because I don’t know where that particular rumor got started. I think this year, we’ve also built our reputation in a really strong way. Without completely spilling the beans of everything we’re working on, I really do think it is going to be the start of a new era of what we’re doing in AEW and I’m very excited about that.”
If AEW is buying New Japan, someone should probably tell its current owners Bushiroad. That company just had NJPW talent Great O-Khan at their annual shareholders meeting for a bit, and has announced their yearly strategy presentation for New Japan and their joshi promotion Stardom for next month. But TK is smart to use any lure he can to get fans to buy WrestleDream.
Other notes from the call:
- Inoki’s family will be at Climate Pledge Arena on Sunday for the show.
WrestleDream isn’t the start of monthly AEW PPVs. Khan is open to the idea, and to having their events on a streaming service (his preference is still
HBOMax). That would have to be part of a new media rights deal, as it’s outside the scope of their current one with Warner Bros Discovery and he’s not interested in doing “proof of concept” as he feels they’ve already demonstrated what they can deliver.
- He’s open to WBD having a piece (or a bigger piece) of AEW/ROH, and they’ve discussed that being a component of their next negotiations. Khan wants to maintain full control of voting stock and continue to have final say on all decisions.
- The “new era” comments also don’t seem to be about ROH merging with AEW, as Khan put over the direction of Ring of Honor and new champions Eddie Kingston, Hangman Page & The Young Bucks, and MJF & Cole.