AEW media call report: Live notes on Tony Khan speaking with the pro wrestling media ahead of Saturday’s AEW Worlds End pay-per-view

By Jason Powell, Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

AEW President Tony Khan spoke with the pro wresting media on Thursday, December 28, 2023 to promote Saturday’s AEW Worlds End pay-per-view. Refresh the page for the latest updates.

-Tony Khan opened the call by saying it’s been a very exciting time in AEW television. He said it would be an exciting call and he would talk more about the science of pro wrestling than he typically does.

-The first caller questioned why AEW is running the Nassau Coliseum over other venues in the market. Khan said it’s a great venue with a lot of pro wrestling history. Khan also spoke about the success of Wrestle Dream and All In. He said he was at the last playoff game the New York Islanders ever won at Nassau Coliseum. He promised Worlds End would be a great show.

-Khan was asked if The Devil saga was inspired by the Black Scorpion and whether we will find out the identity of the character at Worlds End. Khan said he expects there to be some revelations at the pay-per-view. He also said he’s excited to talk about some of the things they’ve been doing in AEW and touted the episodic nature of the storyline.

-I asked Khan how he feels about AEW’s long term standing with Warner Bros. Discovery and if he feels like he has viable alternatives if they don’t extend their partnership beyond the current deal. Khan said they have a great relationship with Warner Bros. Discovery. He said they are days away from their five-year anniversary. He said he’s excited to work with WBD in 2024 and there will be a lot of exciting discussions about AEW television rights beyond that. He said he would talk more about Collision during the call. Khan said they are still under an exclusive agreement with WBD so there’s only so much he can say, but he knows there’s a lot of interest, including in Ring of Honor from outside parties. He said he thinks there will “likely be a lot of suitors for AEW” and said they would find out for sure as we get closer to the end of the year. He once again said it’s been great working with WBD and it would take a heck of an offer for them to go elsewhere.

-Khan was asked about Daniel Garcia’s performance in the Continental Classic. Khan said he thinks Garcia came out of the tournament better than he went in. Garcia told Khan that he feels like he came out of the tournament a better wrestler.

-The next caller sought Khan’s reaction to Hiroshi Tanahashi being named the new president of New Japan Pro Wrestling. Khan said he’s very excited about it and also had positive things to say about the outgoing president. He said he’s valued his experience working with Tanahashi and said he’s one of the smartest and most prepared wrestlers that he’s worked with. He said everyone in AEW and NJPW “respects the hell out of Tanahashi.” Khan called Tanahashi a great person, a great professional, and a great leader.

-Brandon Thurston noted the AEW television ratings dropping during the fourth quarter. Khan said he feels Dynamite held up well compared to the rest of cable television. He said he thought it was similar compared to Raw’s decline. He said cable in general is down. Khan said both shows are ahead of the decline in cable television. He said both companies are looking for a big pay raise for Raw and Dynamite. Khan feels Dynamite is especially due for a big rights fee increase given where they started. Khan feels Raw’s eight percent decline and Dynamite’s ten percent decline have “defied gravity” in terms of how it compares to the rest of cable television.

-Dominic DeAngelo asked about his booking strategy heading into 2024 and whether he’s considered getting more of a booking team in order and delegating more creative work. Khan said they have a great group of people. He said they had Bryan Danielson, Mike Mansury, Will Washington, Jimmy Jacobs, Sarah Stock, Dean Malenko, and others who were in his office throughout the day. Khan said he came in with a lot on his own and feels they’ve been on an incredible run of shows. He pointed to rankings and how many AEW shows are in the top 100. He said he’s been conducting experimental booking. He said when you do experiments, there’s an experimental group and a controlled group. He spoke about the scoring of the Continental Classic and using three points for wins and not allowing anyone at ringside. He said working on the Continental Classic has been the most fun he’s had booking. He spoke about going back and watching some of the tournament with his family on Christmas. He said the control group was what they had been doing, and the experiment was going with a very meat and potatoes old school wrestling approach with the Continental Classic. He said Collision leaned into being more of a sports-based product to begin with. Khan said he feels they’ve had the best set of shows they’ve had despite the competition getting stronger opposite Collision. He noted that there’s no history to compare Collision to because it’s in its first year, but they’ve been able to boost their ratings against the NFL. He touted it as a success. Khan said he will take this sports-based approach going forward. He said if you’re looking for more character based programming, they have The Devil story and Toni Storm’s character. Khan said the Riho storyline reminds him of Kill Bill. He said the focus on women’s wrestling is “very by design.” He said everyone has been stepping up and it’s time. Khan said it’s challenging for a wrestling promotion when you have injuries. He said it was great to have Thunder Rosa back. Khan said the women’s division has leveled up and he’s excited about what they are doing. Khan said he feels their experiments are working and he has a better sense of what to do in the next year than he ever has in the past.

-Dave Meltzer asked about key people who have left or are leaving the company, specifically mentioning Dana Massie, QT Marshall, and Rafael Morffi. Khan sang each of their praises and said it’s very challenging to have them step away, but the company is growing and he’s excited about it. Khan said he’s been looking at making more hires. He said contracts often expire at the end of December. Khan said there would be a new group and new things happening at Worlds End and he’s very excited about it. Khan said they will have some exciting things to announce as they look to continue to grow the company both on the wrestling and business sides.

-Khan was asked about the overall women’s division in 2023. The caller said it’s really been on fire and listed a number of the wrestlers and then asked about the changes and the standouts in character development. Khan said he was just complimenting some of them and hoped he didn’t repeat himself. He praised the work of Athena and Billie Starkz in Ring of Honor. Khan said he’s very proud of the “Timeless” Toni Storm character and called it one of his “personal favorite characters on television.” Khan said AEW fans have “very desirable demographics” for advertisers in terms of income. Khan said he wants to work Riho into the stories whenever she’s available to work in the United States. Khan also praised Julia Hart and Abadon heading into their TBS Title match at Worlds End. He also spoke about the Julia Hart and Skye Blue storyline and said it’s in a great place and set the table for Thunder Rosa returning. He also touted Saraya and Ruby Soho, and Harley Cameron taking on the role of personal assistant. He said Blue and Kris Statlander had an excellent match on Dynamite. Khan said Willow Nightingale has had a great year and listed some of her key matches. Khan said he feels the women’s division is in the strongest place it’s been and told listeners to imagine where it’s going. He said he intends to be active in free agency and then noted that Jamie Hayter and others will return.

-Bill Pritchard asked Khan how much Kenny Omega’s bout with diverticulitis affected Worlds End and whether it sped up the return of Sammy Guevara. Khan said it greatly affected things. He said they are excited about Guevara and called him a “huge star” while talking about his return from injury. Khan also said he’s excited for Guevara and Tay Melo on the birth of their child. Khan said he’s excited about the eight-man tag team match that was added to Worlds End that will replace the AEW World Tag Team Title match that had been scheduled. He said there’s only one Omega and he felt the right thing to do was to change the card rather than have someone try to fill Omega’s shoes.

-The next caller asked if Khan was looking to have pay-per-views in France and Germany. Khan said they are very focused on London for the All In pay-per-view. Khan said they have a lot fans from France and Germany who attended All In at Wembley Stadium, which Khan labeled the mecca of sports. Khan said they had a $10 million gate for the event. Khan said France and Germany would be great markets for them to eventually tour.

-Khan was asked about Swerve Strickland and Keith Lee. Khan said the timing of the match is by design. He said they have been trying to build both men. Khan said Swerve has had a meteoric rise. Khan said he’s happy that Lee has had a resurgence and said he’s had a series of great matches recently. Khan said he’s been so excited about AEW Collision and Lee’s performances have been a part of that. Khan said Swerve and Lee were a great tag team and they were involved in some of his favorite matches. He viewed their match as something he had in the chamber for when he needed it. Khan said he thinks the timing is right for the match and he wouldn’t do anything differently when it comes to what they’ve done with Swerve. Khan said Swerve vs. Lee is a match that he’s wanted to see for a long time and noted that it’s their first singles match against one another.

-Jim Varsallone got the last question and asked about the possibility of a women’s Continental Classic tournament. Khan spoke about how their top women have stepped up and have had a lot of success lately. Khan spoke about focusing on the strengths of the wrestlers and the wrestling program. He said the Continental Classic has been a huge success. He said one of the things people have enjoyed outside the tournament is the development growth and momentum of the AEW women’s division. Khan said he intends to keep it going and he’s very excited about it. Khan said he will continue to develop the division.

-Khan closed out the call by saying it’s a special time of the year and he wanted to add another wrestling show. He said it’s another reason for people to have their friends over during the winter break. He said he enjoyed Christmas at home with his family and hopes everyone had a great holiday season.


Readers Comments (4)

  1. He needs to learn about the science of mental illness and drug addiction.

  2. I am surprised no one asked him about Kevin Sullivan’s departure.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.