Tony Khan has been doing a ton of press this week to help AEW’s chances against WWE during the 30 minute war that’s coming tomorrow night (Fri., Oct. 15).
SmackDown and Rampage will be directly competing against each other on cable from 10 pm ET to 10:30 pm ET, because SmackDown’s runtime is 2.5 hours this week on FS1. WWE has tried to give themselves the upperhand by running those overlapping 30 minutes commercial free.
Tony Khan reacted to the competition by adding a one hour YouTube pre-show before Rampage that features Bryan Danielson vs. Minoru Suzuki, Bobby Fish vs. Lee Moriarty, and the just-announced match of Tay Conti vs. Santana Garrett.
AEW has received some criticism for rushing a match of the caliber of Danielson vs. Suzuki (and putting it on YouTube) solely to respond WWE’s tactics. Many people within AEW have previously said they stick to their own product and don’t react to what the competition is doing. But that’s clearly not the case here.
Khan explained to the New York Post why things are different this time:
“It’s a little bit different than the Wednesday Night Wars because that was from the very beginning of Dynamite and we put our head down and it was an every-week thing. This seemed like pretty predatory, which is fine if that’s how you want to play it. It’s not outwardly how they’ve (WWE) shown they wanted to play it.
I’ve coined a phrase which is WYW, watch your wrestling. Whatever people what to watch, I want them to watch it. Unfortunately, if we are on at the same time it’s harder for people to watch their wrestling, at least live. We can take the commercials out of it. If you want to take the commercials out of it, I can do that too. It doesn’t seem very civil but I have more money than they do so I can afford to do that longer than they can. But that’s how we make money at the end of the day, so I was surprised when they took those out.”
For the most part I don’t begrudge WWE or AEW for doing what they think they need to do to win the war and improve their position in the market against each other. But if Tony Khan wants to preserve AEW’s image as the scrappy hard-working underdog in a fight against the seemingly impenetrable corporate juggernaut, he probably shouldn’t be so nonchalant in boasting that he is actually richer than Vince McMahon.
On a somewhat related note, one of the matches on Rampage involves former UFC champion Junior Dos Santos making his pro wrestling debut. Tony Khan told the NY Post that he suffered broken ribs at Rampage Grand Slam after the former UFC champion attacked him.
“I’m fine. I’m not a wuss, but he did break my ribs. So he’s going to be a handful in the ring for sure. I can tell you.”
So Tony Khan has a shitload of money, and he’s definitely not a wuss. Got it.
Do you think Khan made a smart decision by booking Danielson vs. Suzuki for a YouTube pre-show in response to WWE’s “Supersized SmackDown”?