Tony Khan AEW Winter Is Coming Media Call

Detailed Notes From Tony Khan’s AEW Winter Is Coming Media Conference Call

— AEW President Tony Khan participated in a media call ahead of Wednesday’s Dynamite, which is billed as “Winter is Coming”. Here are the highlights of the call, with credit to Mike Johnson of pwinsider.com:

Khan was asked about whether they will be doing additional special-themed episodes of Dynamite. He said there would be more ahead in December but they are very aware they don’t want to water down the PPVs. He said that tomorrow night’s card will bring a special PPV feel to Dynamite and formatting the show has been a lot of fun for him this week.

Khan was asked when the Kenny Omega vs. Jon Moxley match will be slotted on the show. The show will be formatted like a PPV card and this will be the last show. The show will be structured around the big matches. He ran down the card, praising the matches as great. Khan said he has it set up so they have a 60 minute time limit and TNT will stay with them as long as it takes to fit the entire match in. He feels it’s going to be an awesome main event and they have big things planned.

Khan was asked about Brody Lee’s status. He can’t comment about him “not being here” but he’s excited to have him back with them “soon, I hope.” He called Lee one of their top wrestlers.

Khan was asked about signing so many talents and how many he can add without eventually subtracting from the roster. Khan said we are all in a pandemic. There are cuts he “could have and should have made” but given the pandemic, he has made the decision not to do so. He realizes that it’s a hard time to get a job in pro wrestling right now. He said Dark has become valuable and is seriously considering splitting it into two different shows, perhaps one that is developmental and one that is featuring more established talents. He likes who they have added to the roster and it’s really important to develop stars for the future. He pointed to Will Hobbs as someone who has benefited from that. He said it’s more important to develop talent as opposed to cutting talent.

Khan was asked about why Moxley vs. Omega is taking place this week instead of waiting for the next PPV. Khan said the timing of the AEW PPVs is by design as he wants a few months between big matches. Dynamite is the lifeblood of AEW and he wanted to have the match on their flag-bearing show. What made him start AEW was that the revenue stream of pro wrestling weekly TV changed and became so large. When he saw what was coming ahead. The business plan was to build the relationship with TNT and sign that contract and they have, they have a $175 million TNT deal. The idea is to bring the biggest matches they can to do the show. He ran down all the top stars Moxley defeated since winning the title. Through all the great matches, Moxley has been a flagship champion for the company. Omega has been one of their top stars since the company was created. They want to build big shows and establish new traditions. When he saw how the revenue for wrestling on TV became so large, he felt you have to put the biggest matches on. He wants fans to feel the big Dynamite shows are important and you can do big cards, but if you are charging $50 a show, he wants the PPVs to be the biggest collection of great matches you can. He will keep putting big matches on Dynamite. It’s the right time to do it and he doesn’t have a bigger platform than Dynamite to put things on.

Khan was asked whether getting involved in wrestling was more or less hard than he expected. Khan said it’s a mixed bag. Sometimes, when you start something, you can get told to leave things to “the professionals.” He learned a lot on the job and on a human side, it is hard but he’s probably one of the most experiences in the world right now writing a show, producing and dealing with Networks. He hasn’t had to really face letting people go and that’s hard in any business and never fun. In general, he’d probably say it’s a mix of the two. Some days, there are things that he never thought would be a challenge and others that he thought would be but weren’t as hard.

Khan was asked if he looks back on the first year of AEW, whether he thought there was an over-correction on how the Elite was booked. Khan said he doesn’t think they needed that beating at the end of last year but this year, talents were booked stronger and they established a lot of talents beyond the Elite. He said they built Darby, Pac, Moxley and Jericho over the last year.

Khan was asked about the Omega vs. Moxley story. Khan talked about the back story going back to their very first event and the Unsanctioned Match that “doesn’t count in their storylines.” He praised Omega’s work and said Omega and he are the only two who have been at every AEW event ever. He said Omega has been prominently featured and has been one of their top ratings draw. He was positioned as one of the most important talents on the show and ran down his highlights. The Eliminator Tournament was part of the build and coming out of that, with Omega winning and Moxley beating Eddie Kingston, you couldn’t ask for a more credible top contender as well as two talents who have a history. It’s the biggest match for either talent and for AEW this year. It’s going to be a really hot match and the rest of the year is going to be really hot. Moxley is having the biggest match yet in AEW vs. Omega. He said that everyone being here talking about it shows how important the match and the show are. Both talents wanting a serious match but things get personal really quickly in pro wrestling.

Khan was asked about the pacing of the show. Khan said last week’s show was taped, so they had the ability to edit or move segments. The show actually went to plan really well and they didn’t have to do a lot of that. He looks at things last year and smacks himself in the head and wonder what he was thinking but having a year in, he’s gained experience. He speaks to a lot of people and they tell him different things they like about the show. He tries to make sure there isn’t a lot of pre-taped segments and that you keep a lot of in-ring action. You have certain breaks you have to figure in. Every week, it depends on the talents, the matches and the angles. You can’t cover every story in AEW every week on just Dynamite. He feels the second year is better. There were things he was asked to put on the format last year and agreed but learned he shouldn’t have done that. He’s learned with experience what you should and shouldn’t do from 100s of ideas that are discussed. Sometime, you plan for months down the line but just trying to fit as much good into one specific show on a week can be challenging. He thinks tomorrow is going to be awesome and you won’t see a better two hour show of wrestling than you will see last night.

Khan was asked whether part of his mission with AEW is to try and bring more mainstream acceptance of pro wrestling. Khan said he thinks for years people wanted to see more pro wrestling on a major cable station beyond the one company that had it. He thinks his father, the NFL and the Premiere League allowed him to be in this position and his work allowed him to meet and make friends in Hollywood. Some of it was dumb luck. He met his friend and partner Bernie on a flight from Dallas to LA and they became friends and partners. He introduced Khan to Kevin Reilly who was with TNT at the time and that allowed them to build the relationship with WarnerMedia and bringing wrestling back and continuing to showcase it. He hopes people remember tomorrow as one of the best ever wrestling shows on TNT. The pandemic is hanging over everyone’s head and it’s terrible. Among wrestling fans, it’s changed how they watch wrestling and how it’s presented. They’re going to have 1,000 fans tomorrow and it’s being done the right way in an open-air stadium in pods and with masks being enforced. They’ve been doing it for months and they haven’t had issues with anyone since they’ve started that. They are going to have a real wrestling crowd.

Khan was asked if Jon Moxley would be working Wrestle Kingdom. Khan said no.

Khan was asked if there’s talk about introducing a Trios title. He said he thinking about it for 2021 and it’s something on the agenda for the future.

Khan was asked about the title of the show. He said the title was perfect for him, since it has an epic meaning. He’s never watched Game of Thrones but he knows it’s a huge expression. His mother is a huge fan and his father knows the meaning just through osmosis because his mother watching. For him, he thought it would an awesome name, plus it’s the beginning of winter for everyone. It feels right for a big, epic fight and with his partnership with WarnerMedia, they were kind enough to give him permission to use it. Being a partner with someone who has all this awesome IP. Winter is Coming will be huge and he’s planning a big Christmas event, a big New Year’s event and Beach Break.

Khan was asked about whether there’s been any talk about having AEW airing live on ITV. Khan said they have a great relationship there. They’ve also been very happy with the AEW+ version of Impact and someone who was a tape trader, he would have wanted the complete versions of the show and matches that air on AEW+ internationally. AEW on ITV will continue. It was his first TV deal and he holds it near and dear to his heart. TNT put him through his paces before they would commit and he went out and signed tens of millions of dollars in wrestlers and invested millions without any TV deal. TNT wanted to see if he could build a roster and build a company and he that with no commitment and no TV, but ITV gave him a commitment immediately. They had a great history going back to World of Sport, which was under their entertainment division and that was his pitch to them.

Khan was asked about the return of Kenny Omega’s Cleaner persona. Khan said it was something they wanted to do. It was something he and Kenny worked together. They collaborated together and Kenny brought some ideas to him. He said the idea for Ricky Starks painted like Darby came out of a late night conversation they had while drinking White Claws. He said that talents have come up with ideas for other talents. The Waiting Room was Cody Rhodes’ idea for Britt Baker. The Bucks and Kenny have come up with ideas for other talents. This was something Kenny wanted to do. He loved the idea and that’s why they are doing it. These are ideas they wanted to do.

Khan was asked about the use of Miro long-term. Khan said he’s going to be huge there. He said that it’s hard for stars that come in with the won-loss record towards the end of the cycle, so he couldn’t just put him in the main event and with no stories, so now he’s been in the mix with some of the top stars of the company. They have a stacked roster and so many great things. Miro will be a great part but had to win matches and build his stories. They are re-conceptualizing Miro. He doesn’t know who he was supposed to be before AEW. He wanted to do that one-on-one deal with Trent. The Miro you see is him and he’d like to do more of talents talking about what they think of each other. As you get to see more of him, there’s more of a chance of Miro being a cross-over star in gaming. He said Miro had been abused for years elsewhere and is being rebuilt. He was a huge star but wasn’t treated as such for a long time. He’s being rebuilt and he’ll be a big name in 2021. He wasn’t just going to toss someone into the top of the title picture without a win/loss record and Miro had to be built.

Khan was asked about getting heat for his Tweets a few weeks ago. He said if he got heat, it was a good heat because they got buzz and it led to their audience rising the following week. He said that tomorrow and the day after when the numbers come in, they’ll see he was right in what he wrote. He has huge ambitions on where he wants to go with AEW. He said the balance of power is shifting to fans. There are things in wrestling fans have wanted to see for years and they are going to get to see it. If you don’t get the reaction to something you want right away because you put all your cards on the table, that’s a bad sign. That’s not what happened here. He only revealed his first card in a series in Pac. It was important for fans to know he’s an important star and he’s the first in a series of important things that will happen in AEW.

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