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Tony Khan talks about beating NXT and being inspired by Vince McMahon

AEW President Tony Khan’s interview on Le Batard & Friends - South Beach Sessions was primarily focused on how business is booming after CM Punk’s debut night in All Elite Wrestling.

But Khan also talked about growing the company from scratch, and how he’s inspired by Vince McMahon’s management style from the 1980’s. Here’s the transcript of his explanation, courtesy of Wrestling Inc:

“There was a time when he was building his company in the ’80s. I’ve tried to undertake a similar amount of work, in terms of shouldering a ton of responsibility and taking a ton of one-on one-meetings. You hear about Vince going to convince Hulk Hogan, going to convince individual people to come in and work for the WWF, convincing a sponsor to come on. Vince was taking all these meetings and all this responsibility, and he was a similar age to me, and I think I’m inspired by that.”

Even though he is inspired by McMahon, there are also plenty of differences in each one’s approach:

“I’m trying to do it a very different way, and I’m not trying to run all the other wrestling companies out of business. I’m not trying to take out every regional wrestling company, and eat their lunch and put them out of business. I don’t think that makes sense. He took a very different approach, and it worked for him really well, but he was all over the place, and [took] tons of meetings and he made lots of deals. And I’ve tried to do that over the past three years.”

Khan makes sure to also give a shout out to former WCW head honcho Eric Bischoff, who has appeared several times on AEW Dynamite:

“The amount of people I’ve gone out and convinced to join AEW, signed, built relationships with that I now have under the umbrella of this company and so I tried to take a lot of inspiration from what Vince did in the ’80s building the wrestling empire and expanding it because I think that’s probably the last time anybody expanded as much as we have, and I put an asterisk on that because WCW under Eric [Bischoff] did expand a lot from a money-losing business into a business grossing hundreds of millions of dollars, but it’s still a little bit different than us where we weren’t a business at all and came from scratch. But I have to give Eric and WCW a ton of credit too. Basically, for me, I have a ton of respect for the way that company was built, and that’s why I don’t want to go out of my way to trash it.”

Unlike WWE President Nick Khan, Tony doesn’t hesitate to classify WWE as competition for AEW. He talked about what it was like to be in the weekly fight against NXT, and the stress that came about from just one week as a ratings loser:

“Their show went head-to-head against me for over a year, before they had to move it. That’s just the truth. That’s a black and white statistic. I don’t want to say anything bad about anybody. That’s just a fact. That was a fight. That was the hardest fight I’ve been through. I mentioned the end of 2019 and trying to get more organized, there was one week at the end of 2019 where they actually won the demographic, and I think it ended up being in 76 weeks head-to-head, we won 75 to one and the one week they got it, I was up against the wall.”

“And that’s when I was talking about getting reorganized, changing things around, making sure that 2020 was going to be a lot stronger than the end of 2019, and it was. We were in a fight. I think we are still in a fight in many ways, but I also don’t think it needs to be a hostile thing where you can’t support both companies because I never want it to be something where a fan feels like they should only support one or the other.”

Do you think AEW’s long-term outlook is promising with Tony Khan leading the way?

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