AEW media call report: Live notes on Tony Khan speaking with the pro wrestling media ahead of Sunday’s AEW/NJPW’s Forbidden Door pay-per-view


By Jason Powell, Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

AEW President Tony Khan spoke with the pro wresting media on Thursday, June 22, 2023 to promote Sunday’s AEW/NJPW Forbidden Door pay-per-view. Refresh the page for the latest updates.

-Khan was asked about The Elite and CM Punk being on the same card at Forbidden Door. Khan said it’s exciting to have so many top stars on the show, including top stars from NJPW. He said it feels like an all-star lineup. He said he’s happy to have Punk back in AEW and he’s also happy to have the “great representation” from The Elite.

-Khan was asked about the locker room atmosphere since Punk has returned. Khan said it’s been great so far and then went into plugging his eight-man tag match for Collision.

-The subject of Jack Perry challenging Sanada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and whether there were other candidates. Khan said Perry was the first choice in his mind. Khan said Jungle Boy is one of AEW’s top stars and believes it will be a great match.

-Khan was asked of all the matches he’s booked, where does Bryan Danielson vs. Kazuchika Okada rank. Khan said near the top. He also touted the Kenny Omega vs. Will Ospreay rematch, and recalled Omega’s rematch from the Tokyo Dome with Chris Jericho. Khan said he feels Danielson vs. Okada is a wrestling dream match that has never happened before.

-The next caller noted that there were no Canadians in either Owen Hart Cup tournament. Khan said he wanted to put together the best field he could. He said the tournament is something they intend to do year after year. He said he thinks the brackets were well received and people are excited about the matchups.

-Khan was asked about rumors that Punk was scheduled to face Kenta at Forbidden Door rather than Satoshi Kojima. Khan said this is the match he wants to see. He feels Forbidden Door has the most stars on any pay-per-view they’ve ever done. He said he felt it was fitting to have one of the most decorated heavyweights from Japan face one of the most decorated heavyweights from America. Khan called Kojima “an amazing get.” Khan noted that Kojima was part of last year’s event, which was the most successful non-WWE pro wrestling pay-per-view since the nineties. Khan added that he couldn’t comment on anyone else who was rumored.

-Khan was asked whether there was any consideration given to including the Stardom promotion on Forbidden Door. Khan said when he scheduled Forbidden Door, he learned that Stardom had their own event the same day. Khan said Stardom found it difficult to take part because they had their own show, which he completely understands. Khan said he understands that there is interest from Stardom in working together and he is very open to doing that in the future.

-Khan was asked about the differences between booking the first Forbidden Door and this year’s event. Khan spoke about building his relationship with NJPW booker Gedo that has grown over the last year. Khan said he’s also developed a stronger business connection with NJPW President Takami Ohbari. Khan also said they are not as injury bitten as they were last year. He said that they dealt with more injuries before last year’s event than he has in any sport he’s involved in. “The injury bug truly bit us hard,” Khan said. He added that it’s been less challenging to get to the point they are at this year. Khan said the card came together without a wave of injuries and he feels that this year’s show can be better than last year’s show, which he said was one of the greatest events that he’s been a part of.

-Khan was asked about reports that he and his father are interested in acquiring Bellator and how it could help AEW. Khan said he was surprised to see that report because neither he nor his father have had any discussions. Khans said he didn’t even know who they would reach out to. “There’s nothing really to that, I’m not really sure where the rumor got stared,” Khan said. He boasted that AEW is the greatest startup league since the AFL and said he doesn’t intend to merge with the competition like the AFL did. Khan asked if it was something that MMA reporter Ariel Helwani reported. The caller confirmed it was. Khan said it’s not the first inaccurate thing that Helwani has reported. “That’s Ariel Helwani for you,” Khan said.

-Khan was asked about the ten-man tag match involving members of The Elite and the Blackpool Combat Club. Khan said it’s an exciting match with some fascinating dynamics at play. Khan spoke about the various storyline conflicts between some of the wrestlers involved.

-A caller mentioned reports of Bryan Danielson, Chris Jericho, and CM Punk being involved in creative discussions. The caller asked if there are any women who take part in discussions regarding the women’s division. Khan said Madison Rayne and Sarah Stock are involved. He noted that Rayne has been sidelined from the ring due to an injury. He also said he listens to the top women in the division to get their ideas and who they want to work with. Khan said he has the final say at the end of the day.

-Khan was asked if there are plans to work with other companies in the future. Khan said they have a strong relationship with NJPW. He said it didn’t start that way, which is part of the reason it’s so great that it’s worked out the way he has. He said they have relationships with other promotions, but none quite like what they have with NJPW. He said he loves lucha libre too and spoke about his enjoyment of CMLL during his younger years. He said he thinks they have some of the best luchadors in the world. He said he really likes working with Konnan even though they don’t always agree on wrestling matters. He said it’s challenging that NJPW works with CMLL, whereas AEW has a pretty close relationship with AAA. Khan said he would love to have everyone involved, but he also doesn’t want to get in the middle of promotional battles between other companies. Khan mentioned the possibility of working with Stardom again.

-Khan was asked about CM Punk using the line “One Bill Phil” and essentially questioned whether it’s a sign of a bigger deal for AEW with Warner Bros. Discovery. Khan spoke of Ted Turner being referenced on television and giving a spot to wrestling on Mondays during prime time. Khan spoke about the power that WBD’s CEO David Zaslav wields in television. Khan said AEW getting the Saturday night time slot to AEW was Zaslav’s idea, so he thought it was cool to have Punk give him a shout out. Khan said they have nine-figure revenue and are building toward what Punk referenced ($1 billion). Khan credited the fans with the abundance of pro wrestling on television these days. He said Collision was a great debut.

-Khan was asked about the Owen Hart Cup tournament brackets and noted that last year’s men’s winner Adam Cole was not included. Khan said that in addition to being a top contender, he’s also in the blind eliminator tag team tournament, which would make it challenging for him to be in both brackets. Khan mentioned bracket breakout and letting fans follow the tournaments. Khan labeled MJF vs. Cole as an amazing match and played up the idea of the two of them being partners in the tag tournament.

-The question of whether Khan has spoken with Bill Goldberg again. Khan said he has had conversations with him. He mentioned the possibility of Goldberg being the mystery partner of Sting and Darby Allin. He said there have been a lot of guesses and most have been more in line with NJPW talent. Khan said Goldberg has also competed in NJPW. Khan closed by saying that he’s had nice conversations “at times” with Goldberg about working with AEW and said that’s all he could really say.

-Khan was asked whether CM Punk has an ownership stake in AEW. Khan said he owns the business and Punk is one of the top stars who has an interest in the company being a strong box office business. Khan said Punk is interested in the bottom line being strong and wants the company to be strong.

-Khan was asked what would make AEW Collision a success in the eyes of WBD. Khan said he’s not entirely sure, but he knows that the premiere episode was considered a success.

-The final question regarded how he manages wrestlers who are returning from injuries. Khan essentially spoke about not going overboard initially. Khan closed out the call by giving a final push to Rampage, Collision, and Forbidden Door.


Readers Comments (3)

  1. I’m shocked that so many people, including on this site, just HAVE to find something to be negative about when it comes to AEW. Not going to say anything more.

  2. What was negative about posting an interview?

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