Tony Khan on the difficulty of balancing expectation with reality when it comes to AEW surprises, what goes into determining whether to renew wrestler contracts

By Jason Powell, Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

AEW President Tony Khan spoke with TV Insider’s Scott Fishman. The following are the highlights of the interview that can be read in full at

Khan on the difficulty of balancing expectation with reality when it comes to AEW surprises: “I try to listen to the fans and pay attention to audience feedback. I think it helps because it gives me some idea of what the fans in a larger sense want to see. Different fans have different ideas about the different wrestlers they like. You can gauge the excitement around a certain wrestler or match or moment. I believe people will get very excited about the debut of this new signing is. This is somebody wrestling fans really respond to.”

Khan on what goes into determining whether to renew contracts or let them expire: “When we started a lot of people had contracts that were a couple of years long and a lot of them are coming up. I have really tried hard to be very considerate of the people on the roster, especially going through the pandemic. That encompassed a long period of time where we were still in our first year of television and going into our second. I kept a lot of people under contract even though I wasn’t necessarily using them on television because I wanted them to still have paying work, which was hard to come by for wrestling during the pandemic where there weren’t any independent shows. Really only two places were running and the other place was cutting people left and right. I did want to give some job security to people. Now with so many wrestlers coming in, I can’t renew all the contracts. I’ve had to make some tough choices based on ability, fan response, or both. I try to maintain the best roster I can for the company and fans.”

Powell’s POV: AEW could simply have surprises show up without teasing them in advance, but the network wants the hype because it’s good for television ratings. We’ll find out tonight whether the latest surprise hype lives up to fan expectations, which won’t be easy. As far as the contracts go, it’s no surprise that AEW will be letting some deals expire given how many new signings there have been. The company has been good about honoring those contracts and letting people know that they honor their deals, whereas most WWE deals allow the company to release talent at any point along with the typical 90-day noncompete clause. Khan also spoke more in the interview about the road to the AEW Revolution pay-per-view and commented on Jon Moxley’s return.


Readers Comments (2)

  1. Khan bases whether or not to renew a contract based on performance and fan reaction, and if you haven’t proven yourself by the end of the contract, that’s on you. LOVE that attitude. Although I’m sure there are the “no matter what i will find something wrong with AEW” people who will say, “See?? Khan can’t keep all those people like we said”, I think giving everyone a shot is all he needs to do, and he does that.

    As far as the surprise, I REALLY hope whoever it is lives up to the hype, but with all the hype, I am fearful that it will be almost impossible to do so (especially for the aforementioned anti-AEW people, who will bash it no matter what). Tony hasn’t let AEW fans down so far, so I’m hopeful that this is as big of a signing as we have been promised. We shall see in a few hours!

  2. Releases had to happen sooner or later. The roster is loaded with a collection of acrobats who have no business in the major leagues of wrestling. I should send Tony a list of who to cut. It’s long and extensive.

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