wrestling / News

Tony Khan on AEW Picking Up Where WCW Left Off, PPV Plans Following TNT Debut, His Thoughts on Authority Figures

July 15, 2019 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
AEW fire logo, Tony Khan

Following AEW Fight for the Fallen on Saturday, company president Tony Khan spoke to the media in a press scrum to talk about the show. During the scrum, Khan discussed his thoughts on AEW not having to use authority figures, booking by committee, AEW picking up where WCW left off, and plans for AEW on pay-per-view following the debut of the weekly TNT show. Below are some highlights and a video of the scrum (video via Chris Van Vliet’s channel).

Tony Khan on wrestling owners playing an onscreen character: “I don’t think every wrestling owner [has been an onscreen] character. Well, a lot of times, it’s like a broad babyface, like doing what I and my dad do. Bring the check out or whatever. Like you know, it wasn’t like Jim Crockett, who turned heel. You don’t have to do it. You know what I mean? I don’t think — if my dad hadn’t have wanted to do the thing, I could’ve just as easily brought the check out. I don’t I would’ve been trying to be a character. We’re just trying to do a nice thing for the city. It’s our building. He owns the building that we’re doing it in, so I thought it was cool. But I was glad he wanted to do it. I have no desire to go out there. I’m happy sitting behind the curtain at that desk.”

Tony Khan on if his dad is the Jack Tunney and his thoughts on authority figures: “Is my dad the Jack Tunney? No. No, no, no, and we don’t need to have — I don’t think we need to have that. I think we’ll book by committee, and I think that’s good enough to know. I don’t any one person’s agenda. I don’t think it should ever be like a distracting thing. I think we’ll go out of our way to make it not to ever feel like there’s an overpowering authority figure because I think it’s commonsense good wrestling. We’ll do things that make sense by committee. We have not just the EVPs and stuff, but people involved in matches. We have a great team of coaches. We have Billy Gunn. We have Dean Malenko. We have Jerry Lynn. With Billy Gunn, Dean Malenko, Jerry Lynn, those guys on a championship committee; those are guys who can like be [involved]. And yeah, you could see that. But there’s a lot of great voices in the room who offer a lot.”

Tony Khan on pay-per-view plans for AEW after the TNT debut: “It’s a really complex question. I don’t want to rule anything out, and I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. But it’s a good question. There will be pay-per-views. We will be doing roughly — it’s not exactly spaced out a month apart. But effectively, it was a pay-per-view in May, Double or Nothing, and then there were pay-per-view level shows in June and July with Fyter Fest and Fight for the Fallen. And now a big, huge PPV coming up as you referenced, All Out, August 31. And that’s roughly one for each month, and that’s a good rhythm. I think we have shows like Double or Nothing and All Out that are at the very highest level. And you’ll see with All Out, Double or Nothing set the bar really high. … And I think it was a very critically successful pay-per-view that was also a commercially successful pay-per-view.”

“It also established a lot of things like right out of the gate that I find really interesting. Because look, like when I got into this, one of the things that I was hoping for in the market for a second wrestling company, that there was enough there and that we had enough — that we had a chance to pick up where WCW left off. I was really hoping we could pick up where WCW left off. I would’ve been really happy to pick up — to do a little better than numbers like they were doing when they ended off. I figured, if we could just get back to where when WCW ended, we could pick up and do — what a great thing this would be for us. The fact is, the numbers we did on pay-per-view, over 100,000 pay-per-view buys, I don’t think any WCW show did that in the last eight months of the company after Hulk Hogan walked out. After Hulk Hogan walked out, they never did 100,000 pay-per-view buys in like the last eight months they were in business. So on PPVs, we’re not just where they were at the end, we’re where they were like well before the end. And then when you look at live attendance, I don’t think there was a WCW that did 10,000 after Spring Stampede — United Center? Yeah, United Center in April of 2000. So that’s almost a year, like 11 months before the company went out of business. The last 11 months out of WCW, they didn’t do any gates over 10,000. We’re doing two now in our first four shows, and the other two weren’t even set up for that. But I do think absolutely that we have a great chance to do something special.”

Tony Khan on figuring out the right number of PPV events: “And as far as the number of PPVs, I’m not sure what the right number is, but I do know there’s going to be shows that are going to be longer, where there’s going to be more behind ’em, and you can see that. It’s not just me picking those shows. It’s natural selection. You’ll see. I think there’s going to be a Starrcast III in Chicago, and it’s going to be really special weekend. There’s going to be a lot happening there. But the right number of PPVs, I don’t have the exact number for you right now, but we won’t cram — I want to give people the amount of wrestling they want to see. So, I want to pick the perfect number. I think you don’t want to oversaturate, and that’s one of the things we’re trying to be really careful of doing here with the weekly TV, what I expect to be a weekly two-hour TV show that I’ve pretty consistent about wanting to do. And not a lot more than that if any. And pay-per-view wise, it’s definitely something I can see where people can be concerned. Too much is not a good thing when it comes to PPV.”

Tony Khan on fans who haven’t watched wrestling in years watching AEW now: “I think we’ve seen some stuff that’s publicly available. I mean we’ve definitely, as I’ve talked about the lapsed fan, we’ve definitely woken up some old, lapsed fans. People who haven’t watched wrestling in a long time, to your point. I’m not surprised to hear you say that. The data is really positive. It’s not — there’s like towns where wrestling’s been strong that aren’t necessarily the biggest towns, but we’re doing really well in those towns. But we’re also doing really well in just the biggest towns, just all the biggest markets. We did big numbers because they’re big towns, but we also did above average per viewer in all the biggest markets. You name ’em. And really bodes really well for us, not just in terms of we’re going to be successful, we’re gonna do big ratings, but now for advertisers, that’s like really valuable.”

“And I hope we gave people a show that can like really hang their hat on. And again, this is probably more along the lines of what you’ll see from a TV show from us in terms of pushing the line. Because I mean look, it’s a great wrestling product. The fact is I don’t want to give people something they feel like isn’t exciting. I feel like we did a really, really exciting show. I think like with a live, two-hour TV format, I think like that’s similar. Maybe on TV, you can push the envelope a little more, but I wouldn’t — like I said, the difference between some of our stuff we did at Fyter Fest, like what you might do in a Lights Out Hardcore Match and what you do on TNT weekly. But that’s a good question, for sure.”

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Chris Van Vliet with a h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.

article topics :

AEW, Tony Khan, WCW, Jeffrey Harris