By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW President Tony Khan spoke with the pro wresting media on Thursday, November 16, 2023 to promote Saturday’s AEW Full Gear pay-per-view. Refresh the page for the latest updates.
-Tony Khan opened the call by saying that Full Gear is of his favorite weekends in wrestling and in life.
-The subject of Sting’s retirement was brought up and how it affects Darby Allin. Khan said Allin was on fire even before Sting arrived. Khan feels Allin was a great person to help reintroduce Sting after he took time away from wrestling. Khan said Allin will be alongside Sting in his retirement and will be around for years after. Khan called the Allin and Sting partnership one of the best things he’s been a part of.
-The next caller also brought up Sting’s retirement and what his career has meant. Khan said Sting is important to everyone in AEW. Khan labeled Sting as the nicest person he’s ever known. He said he’s kind and generous, and Khan added that he’s “in awe of him.” Khan said Sting is one of the most positive and warm people that he’s ever known. Khan said it’s been an incredible three years for AEW. He said he believes Full Gear will feature Sting’s final match in Los Angeles. Khan said he expects Sting to go out “in a great blaze of glory.” He added that no one talks Sting into doing some of the insane things he does during his matches. He said Sting wants to make sure the fans have a good time. Khan said they want to give Sting a great last run in AEW.
-Khan was asked about female voices behind the scenes in AEW. The caller noted the hiring of another male in Jimmy Jacobs, and the reported exit of Megha Parekh. Khan touted the work of Madison Rayne and Sarah Stock.
-Khan was asked if he’s coming up with more fallback plans due to injuries and other issues. Khan said they got some practice with that during the lockdown era during the pandemic. He said there were people who had Covid and that caused them to change plans, and there were periods where a lot of people were not traveling. He said there were times it led to great moments. He pointed to Lance Archer and Eddie Kingston being in the Casino Battle Royale because they were both future opponents for Jon Moxley. He said Moxley vs. Kingston ended up headlining Full Gear three years ago. He said great things have happened due to injuries or a change. He also said he can’t lie that he hasn’t been happy about the injuries. He spoke of losing Adam Cole and Jon Moxley due to past injuries. He said he thinks they are on the best run of pay-per-views the company has ever done since AEW Collision started. Khan said that doing five hours of television each week allows them to tell more stories and puts them in a better position going into pay-per-views. He said that has only made the pay-per-view events feel more special. He said they have a chance to extend their streak at Full Gear. He said there have been a lot of changes to get to this year’s Full Gear, but the same thing happened at Full Gear 2020 and that’s one of his favorite events.
-Khan was asked about the importance of MJF in the company. Khan spoke highly of MJF and said he’s been a great leader. Khan said MJF is one of the company’s great homegrown stars and the type of “indelible wrestling talent” that they want in AEW for a long time. Khan said they hope to have MJF in AEW for a long time.
-A caller noted that Bryan Danielson was pulled from the WrestleCade event, yet is advertised for next week’s AEW shows. Khan said he didn’t want to speak for Danielson on that. He said they were waiting for Danielson to get final clearance for Danielson to fly. He said that Danielson appeared at Collision in Oakland because he was able to drive to the show, whereas next week’s show in Pittsburgh and WrestleCade (North Carolina) are far away from where Danielson lives. Khan said he’s not very familiar with WrestleCade, so he didn’t have more to say.
-Khan spoke about the feud between Hangman Page and Swerve Strickland. He said it’s not his place to punish the heels for some of the things that they’ve done. He said it’s pro wrestling and he wants the wrestlers to settle things in the ring. Khan got excited as he spoke about Full Gear being held at the Forum and bringing a Texas Death Match to Hollywood. Khan said he should not have punished Swerve for the home invasion. He said that’s for the legal authorities. He spoke positively about the Page and Swerve segment from Dynamite.
-The next caller brought up the diversity in Los Angeles and whether Khan has learned from past shows held in the area. Khan spoke of having many of the top lucha stars in the world in AEW. He mentioned Mistico’s recent appearance. He said Penta El Zero Miedo and Rey Fenix are two of the most decorated wrestlers in AEW. Khan said Rush is returning this weekend along with Dralistico. Khan said Rush brings an authenticity to his matches. Khan said the fans are behind the LFI faction even though they are polarizing in AEW. Khan said Andrade El Idiolo has been a great competitor lately. He mentioned Komander, and said he’s excited about Bandido returning from injury. Khan said he wished Bandido was healthy enough to return this weekend, but he said he will be back soon.
-Khan was asked for his thoughts on Hikaru Shida vs. Toni Storm for the AEW Women’s Championship. Khan said he’s excited and said it’s been a great rivalry. He said he felt that last week’s sit-down interview was compelling and included some great points. Khan said Shida has not been pinned or submitted in 2023. Khan recalled Shida asking Storm what happened to her. Khan said it was a great point that Storm blamed Shida for what’s happened to her. Khan said Shida has had Storm’s number. He said they had a friendly competitive rivalry. He said Storm was “a poster girl for AEW in a very different way.” He said some feel she had a fall from grace, but he sees it differently. Khan said he showed Storm some old Hollywood movies and she had a vision that was very similar of a starlet. Khan said they sat down a long time ago and spoke about old movies and things they could do. He said Storm sank her teeth into it more than anyone has ever sunk their teeth into something. He said she’s not just channeling the Hollywood starlet, she’s become the Hollywood starlet. Khan said he’s tried to come up with ideas to get her more involved on the show and to portray her differently than everyone else. Khan spoke about how someone could paint themselves black and white and go out for Halloween as Storm. He feels she’s become an immortal character in that people will remember this for a long time. He said it will keep getting better and reiterated that Shida sent her character down this path.
-Khan was asked how he decides when to tease special announcements and how much hype to give them. Khan said he weights it all the time because they have to announce matches, moments, and signings. He said sometimes you just try to do what feels right and to create engagement. Khan said they created a lot of awareness about the Wembley Stadium show by putting a lot of fanfare around the announcement. He said there’s a lot of awareness about the December 1 on-sale date. Khan said there are also times when he likes to keep people on their toes such as the announcement of the Continental Classic. He said he would have more information about the tournament immediately after Full Gear in terms of where it’s going and who is going to be involved. Khan said he’s really excited about the announcement of the new signing. He said he thinks this person will be great for AEW and it will be a big deal. Khan said there are a lot of different ways to approach announcements, but it’s really just a case of trying to create excitement and get good buzz about the company.
-Khan was asked if he’s close a million dollar gate for Full Gear. Khan said they are approaching it. He said they are closer to $900,000 now and have a chance to reach the milestone with a great walkup. Khan said the Forum is on the short list of his favorite wrestling venues in the world. Khan addressed another question about doing additional pay-per-views. Khan said every company that has expanded its pay-per-view calendar has been happy with it. Khan said he penciled in the WrestleDream event roughly a year in advance after Antonio Inoki passed away. He said he felt strongly about adding All In. Khan said he feels they have built a nice calendar of pay-per-views this year that is sustainable. He said it’s been their best year in terms of revenue and buys. He said the live gate for All In was insane, and the pay-per-view itself was roughly 200,000 pay-per-view buys, which is bigger than any pay-per-views they did the prior year. Khan said expanding the pay-per-view calendar has been great. He also said ticket sales to the Worlds End event are off to a good start.
-A caller asked if Khan is leaving clues for fans to follow along the way when it comes to the Devil Mask saga. Khan said he didn’t want to say whether he was dropping clues or red herrings. Khan they have shared a lot of information in the course of the story. He said it’s been challenging with Adam Cole being hurt. He said Cole was on a great run. Khan said that when Cole returned from his head injury, he defied all the expectations of those who didn’t think he would get as hot as he was when he debuted. Khan said Cole is one of the most important people in AEW. He said the injury at Grand Slam was brutal and a total fluke. Khan said he is looking forward to Cole returning healthy to AEW. Khan said he believes that MJF and Jay White in the main event of Full Gear is a great rivalry between one of AEW’s best homegrown stars facing one of the best additions. Khan said the identity of the devil is something to keep an eye on. He also said Samoa Joe is looming large and he’s willing to solve MJF’s problem for a price. He said Wardlow is also looming large. Khan said he has a bone to pick with whoever the Devil is because they took out The Acclaimed.
-Khan spoke favorably about working with Adam Copeland. He said he’s similar to Sting in that he has a good heart and is a great family man. Khan said Copeland (the character) was in denial about who Christian Cage has become since he arrived in AEW and became The Patriarch. Khan said he’s happy that Sting and Allin opened Copeland’s eyes to what Cage has become.
-Khan was asked again about planning for the Los Angeles area due to the Hispanic population. Khan spoke of trying to cast a wide net for pay-per-views and said that AEW has done well in L.A.
-The final question regarded MJF and Adam Copeland being involved in upcoming films and whether there would be any cross promotion despite the films not being under the Warner Bros. Discovery banner. Khan said he couldn’t really speak on the Copeland film, but he thinks there’s a great opportunity to promote The Iron Claw movie. Khan closed out the call shortly thereafter and noted that he would be catching a redeye flight after Full Gear to get back to Jacksonville for the Jaguars game.