All Elite Wrestling’s founder and President Tony Khan recently appeared on The Steve Austin Show to speak with legendary WWE Hall of Famer “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. During the hour and half of the show, Khan opened up about a flurry of subjects about the company, the upcoming weekly shows, tours, and the Championships.
First of all, Khan confirmed that there will be some free shows on Bleacher Report Live. Fight For The Fallen, like Fyter Fest, will be free on that platform, but only in the USA.
About the success of Double or Nothing, the first-ever AEW PPV, Khan Tony Khan described the Las Vegas curtain-raiser as a “one of the greatest wrestling pay-per-views ever”, and a real “grand slam”. He revealed to Austin that he was completely in the thick of the action, lurking around the Gorilla Position as the show was in progress. Unlike McMahon, he wasn’t the overlord of the show by any means, working instead in complete harmony with his assembled crew of infinitely more experienced VPs to create night one magic.
About Bret Hart appearing at Double or Nothing, Khan explained it all started with a phone call between himself and Cody, as he mentioned that it’d be cool to have someone like Ricky Steamboat or Ric Flair reveal the strap. Then he tentatively suggested Bret Hart and was put in touch with his agent. Khan felt that the 2-time WWE Hall of Famer “just felt right” for the role.
On Cody vs. Dustin match, Khan broke the kayfabe. “The basic structure, the story that they told, the history, now the blood. The finish at the end, finally, through all the great things that they did, nothing crazy, nothing high-risk. Basic, but the timing was there and it was all there for a reason, then the finish, then Cody picks up the stick (the microphone) and there it is, setting it up for a tag match and said he needed his brother back. Here’s the biggest compliment I can give you about that PPV. That was the most emotion I’ve felt in a professional wrestling match in I don’t know how many years and I believe emotions sell tickets.
“To me, one of the best singles matches you’re gonna see one-on-one encounters with a personal issue- Steve Austin and Bret Hart at WrestleMania 13 is what it invokes to me in every way. It’s a very different personal issue, but to me as far as invoking as some kind of emotional response that’s very much to me to that level that was another match that got another five-star rating in the Observer. Yeah, I absolutely think it was one of the great singles matches.
“(This match) means everything to me. I’ve been a fan of Dustin my whole wrestling fan life, I mean as soon as I got into wrestling, one of the first angles I can remember was the ten-minute challenge and Dustin Rhodes and the angle on Saturday Night’s Main Event where Ted DiBiase tried to take Dustin’s seat and the match they had at the Royal Rumble and then when they jumped to WCW, it was actually when I first started watching WCW, was when Dusty and Dustin jumped to WCW and then started working with you. I just turned nine years old, it was a few weeks after my ninth birthday and instead of watching The World Series I was watching Steve Austin Dustin Rhodes fifteen minute broadway for the TV Title at Halloween Havoc 1991 and I remember Jim Ross saying that if you could have two top draft picks for your team these would be your two top draft picks for the future: Steve Austin and Dustin Rhodes and Dustin Rhodes I’ve always been a huge fan of.”
About the Tag Team Division, Khan highlighted how “super-focused” he and the rest of the AEW staff are on the company’s tag team division, and he has plans to establish a tournament to showcase what these teams have to offer audiences. “When we launch our weekly television show in the Fall, we are going to be doing a tag team tournament that is going to have some of the greatest tag team wrestling matches ever on television. We are going to be starting that, which is going be one of the main focuses on our TV. There are going to be teams that are going to compete for a first-round bye in that tournament, which is a big deal, and we have got some of the best tag teams in all of pro-wrestling competing for our Tag Team Championships coming up in the Fall.” He noted that AEW already has two of the best tag teams of all time amongst their ranks, with The Young Bucks and The Lucha Bros, and that they plan to grow that into something truly special.
The first match of the Tag Team tournament was announced today, as Best Friends will face SCU and Private Party for an opportunity at a first-round bye in the AEW World Tag Team Championship tournament.
About the other titles that the company has planned, Khan said, “We want to focus on a serious main event picture both in the singles and tag team divisions. Then we establish women’s singles and establish the women’s tag team titles when we get there. This may be the first time that it gets announced, eventually, we will establish a Women’s Tag Team title and focusing on the Women’s singles and the Women’s Tag Team title. I’m not going to pretend that we are not serious about building the (men’s and women’s) tag team division.”
He unveiled his formula on how to get there. “As we focus on having the best world championship, in singles and tag teams, men and women, that’s going to be the focus. When I talk about wins and losses matter, that is important to the story. Who won and loss on these pay-per-views is going to really matter. It is the most important thing we can do to establish a promotion, is to establish the Championship. It is what everyone is trying to obtain, how do you obtain the championship? By establishing a run of matches, a streak, by winning a big match, winning a title eliminator. I’m excited about what we are going to do with this.”
About the AEW talents, Khan wants the performers in AEW to showcase their strong personalities as equally as their in-ring abilities. “The guys are going to have time to get their personalities across, but they are also going to have time to have great matches. I want people to tune into our show, looking forward to it all day, because of great matches. There are tons of great wrestling right now, except it’s not as readily available. We need to get back to where not only is the wrestling great, not only are we doing hot shows, but also get the commercial success, [where] we are getting huge advertising money in, and be a juggernaut in terms of television and media.”
About the wrestlers’ schedule, AEW President re-affirmed that wrestlers won’t be expected to spend any more than five days on the road, both to assuage the possibility of audience burnout and allow them to have a life beyond wrestling. There will be no off-season but the schedule will be very wrestler-friendly. He said performers would be allowed to pursue interests outside the ring, noting that the whole point of the upcoming Fyter Fest was to indulge Kenny Omega’s passion for gaming. Most notably, he said that AEW’s employees can expect all the usual “full-time benefits”. He also said that someone like Dr. Britt Baker will still be able to continue her work as a doctor while still working for AEW and wrestlers will be allowed to take international and some independent dates.
About Christopher Daniels, Khan explained his role in All Elite is far from sentimental. “Christopher Daniels does a lot more for us than people know. Not just a great wrestler but he’s the head of talent relations I mean that’s a really important spot. Super knowledgeable guy and he does a lot of work backstage that nobody really knows and doesn’t get a lot of credit for and he’s an incredible person and a great guy too.”
About AEW’s premiere on TNT this Fall, Khan said he reached out to a friend that could help make everything come together seamlessly. “[TNT was a good choice for AEW because] my friend, Kevin Reilly, is the president of TNT and TBS. It’s going to start in the Fall. There will be specific details on that very soon, and it’s going to be really exciting for pro wrestling to return to TNT in prime time, weeknights, for a 2-hour live wrestling show. I can’t tell you the day of the week, but I think it’s going to be the best pro wrestling show anyone has ever done. All Out is going to be our last pay-per-view going into it.”
Khan is looking forward to seeing everyone’s hard work pay off during the final show before their TV debut. “We have set up this issue with Chris Jericho and Hangman Page and we are going to continue setting up these huge issues; And now we have set up another big event with Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley.”
You can listen to the whole podcast here.
All pics courtesy of AEW. Transcriptions courtesy of Wrestling Inc, WhatCulture, Wrestle Zone and Fightful.