By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
All Elite Wrestling executive Tony Khan appeared on Sean Waltman’s “X-Pac 12360” podcast on Wednesday. The following are among the highlights of the interview, which can be viewed below or at X-Pac 12360 Youtube Page.
-Khan noted that he grew up in Champaign, Illinois and attended the live events. He also said he used to race home from school to watch Waltman on the Global Wrestling Federation show on ESPN and popped big when he scored the big Raw upset win over Razor Ramon.
-Khan said he wants wins and losses in AEW to matter and for them to count in terms of a wrestler earning a title match. He spoke of how UFC and boxing have built stars and fights in a similar way.
-Waltman asked if Khan’s home promotion is Rev Pro in the UK. Khan noted that he lives in London a good portion of the year and does enjoy the promotion and went to one of their shows recently. “There’s some great stuff going on on the English wrestling scene, for sure,” Khan said.
-Khan spoke about getting into pro wrestling tape trading as a younger fan and how he watched Chris Jericho back in those days. He also spoke about seeing Jericho in ECW.
-Khan said fans of the Fulham soccer club are worried that AEW will be taking time away from his general manager duties. He said he also works for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and noted that pro wrestling was already what he was doing with his free time. Khan said he loves everything he is doing. He said he never wanted to invest in pro wrestling, but the opportunity and the climate changed.
-Waltman said we can be the biggest fan in the world of something, but that doesn’t mean everyone would invest their money in it. Khan spoke of the climate and the business opportunity, and how so much talent became available in 2019. “We already have some of the best workers in the world,” Khan said. “As we build up and build out, I think we’ll develop a really special roster of talent… The guys on top can work and the guys underneath, you better believe we’re gonna get guys underneath who can work.”
-Waltman raved about Adam Page. Khan agreed and said he’s really come into his own. “I definitely think he’s a main event guy,” Khan said. He said everyone in the company is jacked about Page vs. PAC. Waltman said PAC should be in everyone’s discussion on the top five best in the world wrestlers and could actually be the top guy if he were more active. Khan said PAC is one of his favorite performers and he’s a great live performer.
-Waltman asked about the rumors of Bill Goldberg’s involvement. Khan said he spent some time with Goldberg and he likes him a lot. He said Goldberg is one of the greatest drawing cards ever in the business and a household name. “Yeah, obviously, I really like Bill,” Khan said. He said they bonded over their passion for football. Khan said he hasn’t agreed to Goldberg on anything contractually, but he thinks he’s a great guy.
-Khan said he’s not interested in buying any other promotion to absorb their rosters, but he is open to partnerships. Khan said they have a lot of work to do between now and the Double Or Nothing event on May 25 at the MGM Grand. He added that he’s not looking to acquire other company’s libraries either, but once again mentioned partnerships.
-Khan noted that Alex Marvez, who co-hosted the rally, is one of his best friends. Khan mentioned later that he and Marvez were in the front row of the first NJPW event in Long Beach, California.
-Khan was asked how AEW will avoid repeating the mistakes made by others who have tried to compete with WWE or be an alternative to WWE. Khan said he wants to grow AEW into something that the wrestling community will embrace. He said he wants to give fans things they enjoy from top to bottom. He said they have a group of people who have so much wrestling know how that it won’t be about just great work or awesome promos, but spontaneity and a live show that feels like a live show where anything can happen. He said people over use the word over produced. He said you want to have production and direction, but you also want to have spontaneity.
-Waltman asked if pro wrestling has ever been as good as it is now in his lifetime as a fan. Khan said yes and no. He said the quality of the work has never been as good as it is now. He said it’s a golden age for people who are invested in it, but the late ’90s were better in terms of being available more widespread for public consumption. He said he wants it to be the best of both worlds.
-Waltman mentioned Khan wanting to give healthcare for the talent. Khan said some of the people working with them are still independent contractors. He said the people who are doing office jobs are getting full-time benefits. Waltman asked if there’s a way to provide a group plan. Khan said it all came together quickly. He said a lot of people are doing front office jobs and will end up with healthcare.
-Khan said equal pay for equal spots when it came to equal pay for the women. “That’s fair to me and I think that’s fair for everyone,” Khan said. Waltman asked if the base pay will be the same for men and women. Khan said yes and added that’s the best way anyone has put it thus far.
-Khan was asked about the biggest obstacles and short-term goals. Khan said it will be a challenge “every week” to provide a compelling product. He included delivering a product that people want to see and pay to see and making a profitable business. He said the proof will be in the pudding and it will be on the company to deliver what people want to see. He thinks they have the talent and the brainpower to make that happen. Khan said he believes Cody, the Bucks, and Brandi are up for the challenge. He said Brandi is very qualified for her position as the chief brand officer and noted that she is a very well educated person and will be “so valuable to us as we grow the brand.”
-Khan was asked if there was any hesitation from Cody and the Bucks when he initially reached out to them. Khan said it’s a personal story in terms of how it all came to be, but they essentially made a blood oath. He said they are taking each other at their words to make it a successful business. He said he appreciates the money that his father has invested and said his father Shad Khan would not invest in a business he doesn’t believe in regardless of whether it’s his son’s idea. Tony said his father is not a pro wrestling fan, but he does have some knowledge of it. “He’s a really smart guy, he’s the smartest person I’ve ever met,” Khan said of his father.
-Khan said he could not comment on any potential television deals. “I’m working on some cool stuff,” he said. He added that he’d signed nondisclosure agreements. Waltman asked if he could say there is plenty of interested parties. Khan said there are a number of interested parties. “I want it to be great for the fans,” Khan said. “I want every week, people to be excited about what this week is going to bring in wrestling.” He said he thinks it’s a great opportunity for the talent to create something. Khan said the wrestling community will never die and people will be passionate about it as long as the world is spinning.
Powell’s POV: Khan came off well. Fans are sure to appreciate his longtime fandom and he clearly has an interest in strong in-ring performances. It’s interesting that he acknowledged spending time with Goldberg, as that would be another big name that could help bring in more casual viewers. The hilarious Mike Lawrence also appears in studio as a guest on the show.
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and Brian Fritz discussing the formation of All Elite Wrestling and their launch rally.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Will Pruett on the Roman Reigns whodunnit angle, WWE heading into SummerSlam, AEW's October 2 premiere on TNT, the New Japan Pro Wrestling G1 Climax Tournament through Day 11, and more (77:45)...