By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW President Tony Khan spoke with the pro wresting media on Wednesday, December 7 to promote Saturday’s ROH Final Battle pay-per-view. Refresh the page for the latest updates.
-Khan said he normally does the media calls on Thursday, but he said he wanted to do it a little differently and cover the entire week. He said they are excited about Saturday’s afternoon time slot for ROH Final Battle.
-Khan addressed the status of William Regal. He said there’s a lot of personal stuff and he has a ton of respect for Regal. Khan said you have to go back a couple of months. He said it was crazy coming out of the All Out pay-per-view. He said they made a lot of changes and had to overhaul a lot of things. He said he was happy with that stretch because it produced some of their best ratings.
Khan also spoke about injuries suffered coming out of Double Or Nothing. He was also said he was pleased with Forbidden Door, but it was very challenging due to injuries, including injuries suffered by CM Punk and Bryan Danielson. Khan said he was proud of how the company rallied heading into Grand Slam. He said he had personal challenges that 99 percent of the media members were unaware of.
Khan said his mother suffered a stroke between All Out and the Grand Slam event. He said that’s the reason his father did not attend Grand Slam this year after attending the year before. Khan said his mother went to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville and they were unable to figure out why she suffered a stroke. The doctors allowed her to go home. Khan said he kept plowing ahead at work. He said his mother had a second stroke. He said they went from incredibly worried to panicked as a family. He said it was around the time of his 40th birthday, which he said ended up being low key.
Khan said he received a phone call around that time. He said Regal had contacted AEW executive Megha Parekh. Khan said Regal asked that AEW not exercise their renewal option in his contract. Regal spoke about his son working for WWE. Khan said he had a lot on his mind going to Toronto that week. He said doctors discovered that his mother had a spot on her heart and if the spot was removed, that was the best chance of stopping the strokes. Khan praised his sister for being at his mom’s side. Khan said he spent as much time at the hospital as he could.
Khan said he had to think about Regal’s request. He recalled watching Rampage from his mother’s hospital room. He said the Jaguars played the Colts that weekend and his mother was recovering from a major operation. Khan said thankfully the surgery went really well. He said it’s a very challenging recovery. Khan said his mother was in good condition, but it was a long road ahead. He said his mother was hooked up to dozens of machines. Khan said his family was exhausted and he tagged in and spent nights at the hospital. Khan said he attended the Jaguars vs. Colts game and then flew back and returned to the hospital.
Khan recalled getting a message from Regal, who asked if they could talk. Khan said he made time to talk to Regal. He said he sat outside the hospital on a park bench and they had a good talk. Khan said Regal had good intentions for wanting to go back. He said it made sense to him that Regal wanted to work with his son, particularly given what his own family was going through. Khan said he had to think about Full Gear and family. He said it made a lot of sense to try to accommodate Regal’s request. Khan told Regal he would consider it. He said it required a creative overhaul.
Khan said he sat with Regal after the AEW show in Jacksonville. He said it’s the longest conversation he’s had with Regal. Khan told Regal that AEW is a family first company and they would work to accommodate his request. He said Regal is with the company through the holidays.
Khan said his mother is doing better and they had a great Thanksgiving. He spoke about how grateful he is that his mother is doing better and for his family being able to be there with her. Khan said he’s wishing Regal the best. He said they had conversations this week and he knows that Regal enjoyed his time with the company and Khan has enjoyed having him. Khan said Regal isn’t gone yet. Khan said his mom’s situation probably led him to a place where he had a better understanding of why Regal would want to work with his son. Khan said he can’t facilitate every reunion, but they are a family first company.
-Khan opened things up for callers. Khan was asked whether there’s an update on ROH returning to television on a weekly basis. Khan said he will be limiting how much ROH is on the AEW shows after this week. Khan said he would address things more after Final Battle on Saturday.
-Khan was asked about the AEW Rampage ratings and whether putting ROH on the show has played a part in the numbers declining. Khan said he’s looking to put strong matches on Rampage. He said that with the depth of the roster, it’s time to put all hands on deck to put the strongest shows he can on Friday. Khan said he listens to fan feedback and will be putting things on the show to bring back the audience. Khan said there are people who have drawn in those spots, and he will look at what he can do to help wrestlers who have not drawn.
-The next caller asked Khan whether there are plans to bring AEW to Latin America in the near future. Khan said there are great Latin American markets. He said he doesn’t have any dates, but it’s something they would consider.
-Khan was asked whether ROH will run their own international events. Khan said he went to see ROH in England as a fan years ago. He said ROH has been around for over twenty years and they’ve done more international tours than AEW. Khan said he thinks it makes sense to do more in the future. Khan said ROH has been around longer, but he thinks it’s fair to say that AEW has expended quicker. He said he thinks both companies will do well internationally.
-Khan was asked about Athena and what the future holds for her. Khan said he’s incredibly impressed by Athena. He went into work mode for a moment while saying he can’t condone her recent behavior. He said he likes that she’s showing a more aggressive side and is doing her best work in ROH presently. Khan spoke about Athena challenging Mercedes Martinez, whom he called one of the most respected veterans in the locker room. He said Athena hasn’t shown respect and Martinez is back to fight a locker room bully.
-Khan was asked about the Samoa Joe vs. Juice Robinson match and the ROH TV Title being defended internationally with New Japan Pro Wrestling. Khan liked the idea and said it’s something he could probably talk more about on Saturday.
-Khan was asked about using Maria Kanellis-Bennett in a backstage capacity. Khan said they’ve talked about it “on a pretty regular basis” and said she has a great eye for talent.
-Khan was asked about Jade Cargill and her being cast like Roman Reigns or Mandy Rose. Khan said she’s a great champion and has “so much star power.” Khan said Cargill has crossover star appeal. He said everybody takes notice when she takes the TBS Title to big sporting events and he’s seen it firsthand. Khan said he has a lot of respect for Cargill.
-Khan was asked what took so long for Shane Taylor to arrive and whether he’s under contract. Khan declined to address his contract status and simply said that he’s happy to have him at Final Battle. Khan also noted that it hasn’t been all that long since this is only the third ROH event that he’s been involved with. Khan also credited Keith Lee with the idea.
-Khan was asked if there’s a difference in the AEW and ROH creative teams. Khan said he heads both teams. He said there is some crossover, and some who work exclusively to one or the other.
-The next caller brought up AEW’s use of legends and specifically asked about Arn Anderson and Jake Roberts. Khan said he would like to utilize them. He said that more content and more hours with ROH potentially being part of the expansion is something he’d like to talk more about. Khan also spoke about swapping people in and out to keep them fresh.
-Khan was asked about FTR’s run as ROH Tag Team Champions and why they are not on the card. Khan said he should have addressed it sooner. Khan said he has a great appreciation for FTR. He said FTR have been in a lot of stories that have been thrown off due to injuries and people not being around such as when CM Punk broke his foot. Khan said tonight is a big night for FTR. Khan said Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler have been very supportive of him during his mother’s medical battle. Khan said there have also been times when he’s had to adapt to their other obligations.
Khan said he is filled with the Christmas spirit due to his mother coming out of her surgery. Khan said nobody loves Christmas more than his mother. Khan said there will be “a lot of Christmas on the show and a lot of Christmas spirit.”
Khan said that what FTR have done this year is incredible. He touted their work in AEW and their work in other promotions. He also noted that Dax has moonlighted as a singles wrestler. Khan said he feels like Bill Murray in Scrooged in that he has a new lease on life. Khan also touted The Acclaimed as one of the best homegrown acts in AEW. Khan touted tonight’s match and said they’ve been teasing The Acclaimed vs. FTR for some time now. Khan said FTR have been the MVPs of the first two ROH pay-per-views under his watch, and he said we’d get through tonight and then focus on Final Battle.
-Khan was asked if Regal’s release is conditional upon him not appearing as a talent on WWE television or if it’s an unconditional release. Khan said he believes it’s written so that he can go back and coach but not appear onscreen next year. Khan said he was surprised by Triple H’s tweet that featured Regal, especially given how accommodating they’ve been.
-Khan was asked about the possibility of adding more AEW pay-per-views to the calendar. Khan said he hasn’t locked in anything like that. He said they had their biggest year every on pay-per-view and that makes you wonder if there is an opportunity to do more. He said they put an emphasis on making their pay-per-views special and he also doesn’t want to oversaturate the market.
-The final question what how close the evolution of ROH has been compared to his original vision. Khan said a few things have gone differently. He said he’s playing with house money with this event because the first two were so successful. He spoke about experimenting with the Saturday afternoon show. Khan praised Chris Jericho’s run as the ROH Champion and the run of matches that he’s had since winning the title. Khan said there are high stakes for their match in terms of the future of the Blackpool Combat Club and Claudio Castagnoli potentially being forced to join the Jericho Appreciation Society.
Khan said one of the things that will be learned is the future of ROH. Khan played up whether the “Ring of Jericho” run would continue or if Castagnoli could save the company. Khan went back to talking about FTR challenging The Acclaimed again. He said he would talk more about the future of ROH coming out of Final Battle. Khan spoke about about his mother’s health and how his family rallied around her. They wrapped up the call shortly thereafter.