Facts Only Hardcore AEW Fans Know About Tony Khan

Tony Khan changed the wrestling world forever when he founded AEW, a company which has become the biggest challenge to WWE's supremacy in the wrestling business since WCW. Khan is a lifelong wrestling fan and his dedication and passion for the wrestling business can be seen on every episode of "Dynamite" and "Rampage." Despite being a busy man, playing major roles in other business ventures like the Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham FC, Tony Khan is very hands on with AEW. Tony Khan runs every facet of the company, booking every single match for AEW's two shows "Dynamite" and "Rampage" and even their YouTube shows of "Dark" and "Dark: Elevation."

Tony Khan is a very private individual, with little information of his personal life appearing online. Since the birth of AEW, however, some interesting facts about AEW's founder have become known, from his wrestling fandom in his younger years, to fascinating behind the scene stories of AEW's formation and current success.

Tony Khan used to book fantasy wrestling shows as a child

It is clear that Tony Khan is a huge wrestling fan, and his childlike glee is apparent whenever he talks about wrestling in interviews. On Swerve Strickland's "Swerve City" podcast, Tony Khan revealed he used to book wrestling shows as a kid, and even tried to send in scripts for "Raw" as a teenager. Khan said, "Randy Hales, who was working for the Jarretts in Memphis for a long time, he tweeted recently, and it's true, I sent him a format for like a '[Monday Night] Raw' that I wanted him to send to Jim Cornette in like 1997, and I was 14 years old, and I had already been writing shows for a couple of years. Not that they were great, but for somebody that age they were good. So I look back and 'Dynamite' is a show I created in 1995 when I was 12 years old."

Dave Meltzer even revealed that Tony Khan got the name for "Dynamite" while booking a fantasy wrestling show. In the Wrestling Observer (via Ringside News), Meltzer said, "Regarding the name 'AEW Dynamite,' like the original 'Tuesday Night Dynamite, 'in a trivia note, Khan as a kid used to book pro wrestling television and the name 'Dynamite' was the name of his fantasy television show he put together so that's the actual origination of the name."

Tony Khan was a member of wrestling forums and might have started the wrestling sleaze list

Online wrestling fans in the mid-2000s were all aware of a wrestling sleaze list, a collection of over 400 sleazy wrestling rumors hosted on Angelfire. The person who collated the list says that probably only 10% of the rumors are true, but looking back at the list with modern eyes, one would probably say it is much higher than 10%. 

The list was collected from a message board called Death Valley Driver, and looking back at the original thread, titled "Scummiest Wrestling Urban Legends?", fans were surprised to see that the person who started this thread way back in 2004 goes by the username of "Coach Tony K." Was it really possible that the founder of AEW would start such a salacious discussion thread?

Well, yes.

On Twitter, Tony Khan implied that he was indeed a part of the Death Valley Driver message boards. Online sleuths have since found more of Tony Khan's wrestling message board antics, showing he was a pretty well-known figure in those circles and is still friends with people from the message boards to this day.

Tony Khan never wanted to be a TV character

Authority figures have been a staple of professional wrestling for a number of years, which led many to think that once AEW started, Tony Khan himself might appear on TV in a Vince McMahon role. These days, however, authority figures are seen as overused thanks to WWE's multitude of General Managers over the years. Tony Khan appears to have the same opinion, and has said on a number of occasions that he will not become an on-screen character.

Speaking on the "Bloomberg Business of Sports" podcast, Khan said, "No, I don't write myself as a TV character, but if this makes sense, I am a plot device in the show. So, you'll hear my name a few times because I am the matchmaker. I make the matches, so you'll have somebody appeal to me. I don't need to act or be on television or take up the TV time, but you do have to have a commissioner and a person who lays the law down and makes the rules."

This doesn't appear to be a hard and fast rule however, as Tony Khan has appeared on TV a handful of times. He made some (quite bizarre) on-screen appearances on Impact Wrestling during their partnership with AEW, and he has appeared on AEW TV during some big moments, like the purchase of Ring Of Honor, the announcement of Forbidden Door and when he stripped CM Punk and The Elite of their respective Championships.

Tony Khan originally wanted to call AEW World's Best Wrestling

Tony Khan had obviously been dreaming of starting a wrestling promotion for a long time. Over the years he had a number of ideas for what would be used in his company, some of which would be used in AEW and some of which would not. Speaking on the "AEW Unrestricted" podcast, Tony Khan announced that All Elite Wrestling wasn't his first idea for the name of the company. Khan revealed that the original idea he had for the name of the promotion was in fact World's Best Wrestling. Khan said, "It wasn't AEW to begin with. Actually, my first idea was something called 'World's Best Wrestling' which, at the end of the day, similar meaning to All Elite Wrestling trying to say we're doing great wrestling."

This clearly changed as a result of the popularity of The Elite, who were so big at the time that it only made sense to name the company after them. 

Tony Khan had big plans for Goldberg in early AEW

There were a number of wrestlers Tony Khan wanted when he was launching AEW, with Kenny Omega, Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks, and Chris Jericho being the biggest names he managed to sign. There was one wrestler Tony Khan didn't manage to get however, that being Goldberg. Goldberg was in fact one of the first names ever associated with an, at the time, unnamed wrestling promotion being launch by Jim Ross and Chris Jericho in partnership with the Khan family.

According to Jim Cornette, Tony Khan wanted to sign Goldberg and he even spoke of Khan's booking plans for the Hall of Famer. Cornette says Tony Khan wanted to redo Goldberg's infamous WCW undefeated streak. Cornette said on his podcast (via WrestleTalk), "Goldberg was huge on Tony Khan's want list. He wanted Goldberg to come out and do the streak over again. I mentioned, how much you think he's gonna charge for a 30-second job match? Probably the same as a main event PPV match."

Goldberg, even with limited in-ring skills, has been a noted needle mover when booked in big matches, even in today's wrestling climate. It is interesting to think how AEW would be different today if Goldberg had signed with AEW, and how that supposed undefeated streak would have gotten over with hardcore AEW fans.

Tony Khan legitimated signed Ricky Starks on the spot after his match with Cody Rhodes

Ricky Starks signed with AEW after first appearing on "Dynamite" during an open challenge match for Cody Rhodes' TNT Championship. What many will not know however is the Ricky Starks was legitimately signed as a result of his great performance in that match.

On Twitter, when a fan asked Tony Khan if he had signed Ricky Starks before or after his match with Cody Rhodes, Tony Khan said, "After. Legitimately. His performance on #AEWDynamite really did seal the deal in my eyes and on paper and in reality."

Ricky Starks had been wrestling for NWA at the point and jumped at the opportunity to sign with AEW, saying it was the best decision he could have made. Speaking to WrestleZone, Starks said, "I wanted to offer more than just signing a wrestler. You're signing more than that. Honestly man, these past few days and seeing what's been posted, videos and all that, I think I made the best decision I've could've made. It was very difficult, obviously, but looking at it now. I'm glad I did it and I sit in that, proud that I did that."

The Khan family invested $100 Million into AEW's launch

If one has ever wondered how much it costs to start a wrestling promotion to rival WWE, the answer is apparently $100 million. Upon launch, Rajah (via Ringside News) reported that the Khan family invested $100 million into AEW, putting the money up front to start the company. Dave Meltzer reported on Wrestling Observer (via Ringside News) that, "AEW has strong backing financially, as the company is 100% owned by Shahid 'Shad' Khan." 

While Tony Khan's father Shad Khan put up the money, Shad wasn't completely behind the idea of starting a wrestling promotion. However, looking at AEW's current success, Tony Khan says his father realises he was completely wrong. On Swerve Strickland's "Swerve City" podcast, Tony Khan said, "He's gone into like Forbes a couple of times on the record and said like he was completely wrong, and I'm not like shoving it in his face. He's the reason we are all here."

Shad Khan has said he always expected Tony Khan to waste his money when he inherits the family fortune, so he is glad Tony has built something special in AEW. Tony Khan said, "It was a great quote because you know he said this money, it's his money, 'but someday I'll pass away and you and your sister are going to inherit it and start blowing through it now,' and luckily I think we've built something really special."

Tony Khan is hated by Fulham FC fans

Tony Khan is the owner of English football club Fulham FC. Even given how hands on he is with AEW, Tony Khan still serves Fulham FC as their Vice Chairman and Director of Football. While Tony Khan is relatively well liked by wrestling fans, is that the same for Fulham FC fans?

No. Definitely not.

Tony Khan is hated by Fulham FC fans. The fan consensus is that he has made a lot of wrong decisions as Director of Football, and consider him to be one of the reasons Fulham FC have been relegated from the top division numerous times. Tony Khan's Twitter antics of replying to fans and their criticisms is usually good for a laugh in the wrestling world, but doing the same in the football business is seen as wildly unprofessional. Khan has also, on occasion, undermined his first team manager, a huge no-no in the football world.

Khan's Twitter game has even put him in the crossfire of famous UK football pundits, so much so that he was openly called him "a clown" on national television.

Tony Khan is a controversial figure with the Jacksonville Jaguars

On top of AEW and Fulham FC, Tony Khan also serves as the Senior Vice President of Football Technology & Analytics for the Jacksonville Jaguars, having bought the team in 2012 along with his father.

In contrast to Fulham fans, Tony Khan is relatively well-liked by some (not all) Jacksonville Jaguars fans. Though they admit he should probably stay away from Twitter, as he is known to argue with fans and even players on social media, he is generally seen as a person who wants to do well by the Jaguars. It is not all sunshine and rainbows, however — while Tony Khan is supposedly known for his analytics, he is seen to have made some bad decisions for the team, making him a controversial figure for some Jags fans.

Playing big roles with AEW, Fulham FC and the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tony Khan has clearly put a lot of effort into all three companies. That said, it seems he is more popular among wrestling fans compared to Fulham FC or Jaguars fans.

Tony Khan says Hulk Hogan will never be welcome in AEW

Hulk Hogan has been a source of some controversy in recent years ever since his racist rant was leaked online. However, something that cannot be argued is that Hulk Hogan is one of the biggest names in wrestling history and would probably give AEW some mainstream coverage if he were to ever appear for the promotion. In spite of this, Tony Khan has revealed that he would never sign Hulk Hogan to AEW, or even sign Linda Hogan for that matter.

When Linda Hogan tweeted racist remarks about George Floyd protesters, Tony Khan replied to her tweet with this, "You've now joined your husband in being banned from all AEW shows. Congratulations."

Tony Khan clarified his statement on the Wrestling Observer (via Comicbook.com), saying of Hulk Hogan, "What he said on the tape, long before George Floyd, I've told people I can't work with Hulk Hogan. How can I look my Black friends, football players, employees in the face or myself in the mirror after the things he said and has never given an adequate apology for?"

Tony Khan wanted CM Punk in AEW from the very beginning

Ever since he left wrestling in 2014, wrestling fans always asked the question of when CM Punk would ever make his return to wrestling. This was apparently a question Tony Khan was asking as well, as Dave Meltzer (via WrestleTalk) reported that CM Punk was actually the first wrestler Tony Khan wanted for AEW. Meltzer said, "[CM Punk] was Tony Khan's first pick for AEW. Before [Chris] Jericho, before the Young Bucks, before anyone. If he wants to wrestle, he can wrestle and make really good money, if that's what he wants."

Just a few years after AEW's launch, Tony Khan got his wish as CM Punk would make his epic return to wrestling on the second ever episode of "Rampage." Tony Khan is clearly a huge fan of CM Punk, and the wrestler became a central focus for AEW upon his debut, and went on to have great matches and feuds for the company. 

Khan got his wish when he signed CM Punk, and AEW has had huge success with CM Punk on top. Whether that success will continue after CM Punk's explosive post-All Out press conference is another matter.

Tony Khan had no plans for ROH when he bought it

Tony Khan changed the wrestling world one more time when he bought Ring Of Honor. One would assume that when buying an entire wrestling company that Tony Khan would have had a plan, a strategy, just like he did when he started AEW. However, that appears to not be the case. Bryan Alvarez reported on Wrestling Observer Live (via Ringside News) that Tony Khan didn't have any real plans for Ring Of Honor when he bought it, and that he was simply responding to market forces. WWE also had an interest in buying Ring Of Honor but Tony Khan simply got in before they did. Alvarez said, "Tony Khan didn't have plans for Ring Of Honor. WWE wanted it, and I'm sure that other people wanted it. He didn't have time to draw up business plans. So, the opportunity arose, and he bought it."

This is probably a reason why Ring Of Honor doesn't have any clear direction moving forward, with the Ring Of Honor talent and even ROH Championships appearing episodes of "Dynamite" seemingly at random.