AEW President and booker Tony Khan did a media call on Thursday about this Saturday’s All Out. A variety of topics,  like booking philosophies and pandemic, were also talked. Here are some highlights.

On Thunder Rosa and AEW’s relationship with NWA

“The working relationship between us is the extent of a good personal relationship between Billy Corgan and me. I’ve had a good relationship with Billy for years long before I got into the wrestling business. The NWA’s got a great history. I think we’re very, very different companies in a very different place and I think the NWA sounds like they’re going to get back to running and I wish Billy the best for the stuff he’s doing. I thought this would be a good opportunity for them and for us because Thunder Rosa is great and I thought she would be a great challenger for Shida. It’s one of those situations where I thought it would make sense for both sides.

“I am not sure what the future holds but if Thunder Rosa wins the title, there could be a lot more. Thunder Rosa vs Shida is going to be one of the great matches on the card. Thunder Rosa’s first match on Dynamite was a hit. I am really excited about the match. If Thunder Rosa wins the title, you could see obviously a lot more stuff between us but I don’t have any plans to use anybody else from the NWA although some of our star wrestlers have been there; Eddie Kingston, Ricky Starks and Colt Cabana.”

 

On possible surprises at All Out

“We work really hard at it. We keep a small circle because we’re a small company, it’s a family business, a small company and we’re a startup and we’ve grown so quickly worldwide. Frankly, even though we’re the second biggest wrestling company in the world, we’re not the biggest machine. There are not so many people to spoil a surprise because I think the more people that are in on it, the more likely it is and we really benefit from that. We have a lot more surprises ahead for you in the coming weeks and I’m excited about things that are coming. I really respect the job our team have done. Generally, when we’ve tried to keep surprises, we’ve kept them in the family and we have a great family here.”

On dealing with the pandemic and having the fans back at All Out

“The pandemic has been lesson after lesson after lesson. I try to learn things and not do them again, and if I make a mistake twice, then I definitely try not to make it three times. It’s the highs and lows. They’re truly the same thing. It’s just like learning and trying to put together a good show. I have a feeling that this weekend is going to be one of the great highs. The wrestling business has changed. Last year, we were the number one company in attendance per show in the world of wrestling, and this year is not really about trying to put fans into arenas.

 

“The philosophy of the business has changed completely in the last six months, and I feel like we’ve tried to roll with the punches. This weekend is going to be one of the highs. I can’t tell you how excited I am for Saturday. I held back in the second hour last night, too much maybe because I wanted you to really anticipate the wrestling on this show because the main card on Saturday, bell to bell, is going to be the best wrestling you’ve seen since the pandemic. There have been such highs and lows in this pandemic, trying to do great things. I thought Double or Nothing was like the bastion of ingenuity. This might be the pullout quote of the press conference, but I’m going to say it, I thought Double or Nothing kicked the crap out of WrestleMania. It was a much better PPV.

“If you want to see a show with wrestling fans and a packed arena, I can’t give that to you right now. We’ve got a lot of unallocated space we didn’t use, but we didn’t want to stretch the security personnel. The staff at Daily’s Place and the AEW team have done such an amazing job on this, and we’re going to go a little bit closer to 15% for All Out. I think this is the only way to do live event wrestling shows right now is outdoor, socially distanced, seating pods, fans in protective masks and having people around. This weekend will be, I believe, one of the all-time highs in the company. When you look at the card, I’m really excited about it. I think Saturday, All Out, it’s going to be a lot different than All Out last year, but I wouldn’t have it any other way for the situation and with the people I’m.

“Everyone was anxious to have the fans back but I think it was right to be cautious and now we got a process that has worked really well. Hopefully, for All Out, it’ll pay off with this great crowd of 700 – 750 people. It’s going to be the hottest biggest crowd for wrestling in a long time and the most important thing is it’ll be a safe crowd.”

 

On how new talents have affected All Out booking

“As we’ve added people, you do have to change plans and, at the same time, there are some people that come in and they make it very easy for you to change your plans. When you get top talent like FTR, who is one of the best teams, if not the best tag team in the world, they fit into your plans like a glove. When you want to have the best tag team division in the world, you can’t go wrong. When you pair them in a division with a lot of the other candidates for the best tag team in the world, including Kenny and Hangman or The Young Bucks, they have to try and set the reach the bar.

“As far as bringing other new people and pivoting, I never thought we’d be in a situation like that. It was kind of a dream situation in terms of being able to like hone your craft. Being in Atlanta with less than 30 percent of your roster, trying to put together shows, having them make sense, not knowing whether you’re doing four shows or five shows or six, and how long it’s going to be, you need to stretch these tapes. I was so worried about Double or Nothing and how we were going to make it a great show, and we did. The flip side, frankly, is that it is that much harder when people aren’t there, going to Fight for the Fallen or when we had some changes to Fyter Fest. It wasn’t exactly as we were originally thinking of doing it but it worked out incredibly well under the circumstances.

“It’s a lot easier when you have to pivot because you sign great new talent like FTR, as opposed to when you have to pivot because people aren’t available. I think we’ve had unique experiences that have helped us do it. When based on availability, there are people that have really stepped up and that’s what they got and there are people that have made the most of it, not just in AEW but also in WWE and any places that have been wrestling now. We’re seeing people trying to be creative and do the best they can with what they got. Anyway for All Out, the point being is now that we have this great roster. When you look at the matches on this and having live fans back, this has a chance to be a really special pay-per-view.”

 

On the number of stipulation matches at All Out

“There are stipulations on The Buy-In. The show is not going to be cinematic. I think for the live event experience, it’s not going to be a packed arena full of fans, but there are fans here safely distanced, and it’s going to be a live show with fans and putting the cinematic match on the pre-show because there are reasons we needed to do it. The tone and the situation, frankly, Britt’s leg injury is not like a work injury. It’s not like MJF’s neck like Britt had a broken leg and a broken nose. So with a fracture in her leg and her nose injury, like we gave her some time off, and this is the first time Britt’s come back and done anything physical. Last night, when she attacked Swole was the first time Britt’s done physical wrestling activity in a long time, and I’m really excited for this match, but there’s a lot of reasons why I think it’s the right reason to do it cinematic frankly. And for the people asking, I think that’s why (Note from the editor: the Britt vs Swole match has since been moved to the main card).

“For the wrestling on the show, there are some stipulations matches, but there’s also just a lot of great wrestling, When you look at it bell to bell, even though, there’s going to be obviously Mimosa Mayhem, I think it will be a great match, and Chris and Orange Cassidy have had a few, great straight wrestling matches on television now and really great examples of chain wrestling and the art of the comeback. Matt Hardy and Sammy, The Broken Rules, effectively, it’s a Last Man Standing Loser Leaves Town Match that applies to Matt, and Matt and Sammy have had this great feud. There’s a great story that Sammy wants Matt out of AEW. Really since Matt’s been in AEW, he’s mostly tormented Sammy and vice versa. So Sammy’s an original. He originally wrestled in the first-ever singles match in AEW. He wrestled the first-ever match on Dynamite, and he’s wrestling now in our first Last Man Standing match. He was in her first tables match and this is going to be a lot of fun.

“If you look at the rest of the card, you got a Casino Battle Royale which is also involving a lot of people on the card. It will be frankly a great example of how far the roster’s come since our first show because we have this depth of roster we’ll see a lot more talent in it. You’ll see that the roster has come a long long way from who’s in this one versus who was in the first Casino Battle Royale. We had some great people in it, with MJF and Hangman. We established some new talent like Orange Cassidy in it.

“Of course, Moxley vs. MJF will be, I think, a really, really strong wrestling match on this card, and I think when you look at, that that has a chance to really establish whether it’s going to be John’s run of dominance or whether it’s going to be that Max is the future of this company. And frankly, I think it’s both. I think John’s had such a great run as a champion, but I also think Max is arguably the future of this company, and I’m really excited for everybody to see what we’re going to do here and how we’re going to how this match is going to go. I’m really excited for both of them because I think as far as like a big fight feel, this has it to me.

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that I thought how Brodie Lee won the championship was a very, very, very strong moment for us and got a big response and shocked a lot of people. The Dark Order, again, like what I said with the Casino Battle Royale, I think is an organization as a group of heels, they’ve come very far from where they were last year, and Brodie Lee has a chance to be a great TNT Champion. I think the TNT Championship means more in our company than other titles outside of the world title in other wrestling companies if that makes sense. There’s a reason there is a TNT Champion. We have the media relationship that means so much to us. It’s our prime source of revenue. It’s our prime source of exposure other than these huge quarterly PPVs that we build to like All Out. And Brodie Lee is a great champion for us. This match he’s got was just a lot moving parts in this situation the babyface group with Dustin and QT came out to support Cody and then a couple of Cody’s friends, Scorpio Sky and Matt Cardona, who’s an outsider showing up. That has a chance to be a great match too. There’s a lot of great wrestling on the show. All the championship matches, that eight-man tag, Bucks versus Jurassic Express, I think they’re all strong wrestling matches without really the reliance on the stipulations, although there are a few matches on the card that have them. I think you’ll see there’s going to be a lot of great wrestling.”

On how the pandemic affected the card of the PPV

“The All Out card is mostly what I expected. There have been a couple of changes but most of it really has been the plan all summer. We wanted to do MJF challenging Moxley for the World Championship. We believed Kenny and Hangman had this great run as Champions and now we’ve got arguably the toughest challenge we’ve ever put in front of them with the number one contenders being FTR. Matt and Sammy, it’s the culmination of their story, like Chris versus Orange Cassidy. Some of the names in the Casino Battle Royale, generally the vast majority of those people are the people I would put in and there have been people that have come in through the pandemic, like Ricky Starks and Eddie Kingston.

“Ricky Starks came in, he blew me away in his match with Cody and I really wanted Ricky to be here. While Ricky was in the ring with Cody, I knew what I wanted Ricky to do and I have already turned the gears in my head about Ricky being with Taz and about Ricky working with Darby and Jon Moxley. That was a home run that he hit. That was something I hadn’t planned for Ricky and now Ricky’s a huge part of AEW and a huge part of this Casino Battle Royale but I didn’t expect that necessarily months ago.

“Eddie Kingston is another one I’ve been a fan of. I think he’s a great wrestler and a great promo and I’d always thought maybe Eddie Kingston could come in and fit in here. We booked it and Eddie Kingston hit a home run. Again I’ve had an idea for Eddie Kingston, I thought with PAC being gone there was a great opportunity for Eddie Kingston. I think he could be a mouthpiece for the Lucha Brothers but also we see a lot of moving parts under his leadership with Penta, Fénix and The Butcher and The Blade. When Eddie did the match, did a great job, nailed the promo, and the reception to Eddie that was so good, I thought Eddie would be great for this, so we pivoted some stuff and now all five of those guys are in this Casino Battle Royale and they’re a big part of the story.”

All the info on All Out and how to watch it here All pics and videos courtesy of AEW

By Steph Franchomme

News, Reviews, Social Media Editor, Impact Wrestling Reviewer, Interviewer Well, call me The Boss... And French...

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