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Dax Harwood Takes Responsibility For Breakdown Of His Relationship With Tony Khan, Talks Mental Health Struggles

February 20, 2023 | Posted by Jonathan Hunter
Dax Harwood AEW Rampage 9-9-22 Image Credit: AEW

On a recent edition of the FTR podcast, Dax Harwood explained why and took responsibility for his early relationship with Tony Khan deteriorating. Dax talked about how the pressure of doing Young Bucks vs FTR at Full Gear 2020 brought his mental health issues to the fore, and reflected on how his own attitude at the time negatively affected FTR’s position in AEW. Excerpts to follow:

Note: excerpts are from a three-hour podcast. Best efforts have been made to retain context.

On how important he viewed the first match vs The Bucks: “I wanted everything to be perfect, and I, at my own fault, wanted everything to go my way. Or our way. I felt that we knew better. I shouldn’t have felt that way, but I did. This is where a lot of my anxiety started surfacing here. But this is where my conflicts with Tony Khan began. Not with the Young Bucks. I think more than anything with the Young Bucks, we were on the same page at this point. They wanted this to be as important as we wanted it to be.”

On how his anxiety began manifesting in the lead up to the Bucks match: “I would be lying if I wasn’t excited, but more than anything I was nervous, and anxious, about the match. When I say I can ‘see a match play out in my head,’ I don’t mean step-by-step, I mean the beats, and the drama, and the story that we’re going to tell. And I couldn’t figure it out. I would stay up, dude, until one, two in the morning and I couldn’t fall asleep. I would lay in bed and try to force myself to fall asleep. I’d get up so pissed at myself because I couldn’t figure out the match, because I couldn’t make myself fall asleep, so I was mad at myself from the two things that I wanted to do but I couldn’t do them. It would just drive me crazy, man. I remember waking my wife up one morning, two or three in the morning. I was like ‘Babe, I can’t fall asleep. I can’t get this match down. I’m gonna shit the bed.’ Thinking back on it now, that was the first signs of anxiety for me, and probably my first anxiety attack. But I didn’t know what anxiety was, at the time.”

On how his perspective is different now than in 2020: “But me with a completely different mindset, with my brain fucking freaking out on me, I was taking everything as be-all end-all. I thought the world was against me. I was kind of upset. Now I look back on it, and I say, dude, it was a fucking Saturday. It was a Saturday, that’s all. Because right now when I finish up with you, I’m gonna have one more tequila, I’m going to walk upstairs, cook dinner with my wife, kiss her and hug her, and we’re gonna watch a show and enjoy our time together. Because it was just a Saturday of the week.”

On feeling like FTR were left behind in the follow-up: “I felt like we were a backdrop. I felt that everything we had been promised, when we come in, we were promised that the tag division would be built around these two teams and I felt it wasn’t being built around us. I felt that we were lied to. And I think that my relationship with Tony got even more strained; I felt that the relationship with the Bucks completely deteriorated because of that. And look, dude, I’m here right now, on this podcast, telling you and the world that I take the blame for that.”

On accepting the blame for the relationship with TK souring: I take the blame for it because I shouldn’t have taken wrestling so seriously. If Tony decided that he didn’t think we were in that league, or that we should have been presented in a certain way? It’s his company, dude. Same thing with Vince. I hold no ill will towards Vince, I hold no ill will towards Tony, of course. Tony’s one of my closest buds now, and I love him so much for what he’s done for me and my family. I should have looked back and said, okay. If Tony doesn’t look at us in this light, what can I do to prove him wrong? And instead, I had the same thought, but combative, I’m gonna fight for us. And I shouldn’t have. Because it’s his company.”

On taking things too personally in 2020: “If there were, if there are, I don’t know, that’s for you guys to decide, not me. If there were ill feelings between us and the Young Bucks, it was because we took it personally and we shouldn’t’ve taken it personally. I think they took how we took personally, and they probably should have, if they felt that way, because we weren’t probably being the best team players at that point in our lives. In my life, I can speak for me. I wasn’t being a great team player because of all the shit I had going on in my brain. I was struggling, dude.”

Dax shares an example of how abrasive he was: “There were no problems going into the match. There was no follow-up. That’s when things started going south for me. Why are we being presented this way, why are we being treated this way. Getting into my own head. More than anything, it was probably my attitude, how I handled things. Being so abrasive, because I wanted us to work. Going into Tony’s office, and instead of trying to find a middle ground, or ask what we could do to make things better, to get a better position on the card; instead of doing that I would go in there and say ‘Tony, you’re shitting on us! You are shitting on us! You’re making us look bad!’ You’re not presenting us the way that we feel we should be presented, and you’re putting the Young Bucks here, and us here. It was just me being too abrasive.”

On how he would respond if an employee approached him with such heat: “If I owned a company, if I owned a painting company, and contracted out these painters. And this painter came to me because I contracted him to paint the walls of a single-family house, and then I contracted out the guy who was just as good as him to do a cathedral or something, and he’s like, why won’t you give me that job? I’m just as good as he is, and you’re giving me these jobs, and he’s making this much money? You should be giving me these jobs, you should be doing this. I would probably be like, well motherfucker, go find another person to pay you!”

On why his attitude probably gave Tony Khan pause on FTR: “So I don’t fault Tony for thinking that way, or not giving me ‘what I want right now.’ I can’t fault him for that because it’s his company, and I wasn’t approaching him the way I probably should have.”

If using any of the above quotations, please credit FTR h/t 411mania for the transcription.