Conrad Thompson is someone who has his hand in many cookie jars in pro wrestling. He co-hosts a podcast with Bruce Prichard that chronicles WWE and he also co-hosts a podcast with Eric Bischoff which is about the glory days of WCW.
Thompson is also putting on the Starrcast convention ahead of AEW's Double or Nothing pay-per-view. Despite Starrcast being held in conjunction with Double or Nothing, Thompson says he doesn't work for AEW.
"Oh no, absolutely not," Thompson replied on WINCLY when asked if he had a formal role with AEW. "Tony [Khan's] just my friend. I don't have a title. I don't have a business card. I've never gotten a paycheck. I've never filled out paperwork. I paid for my own flight to Jacksonville to do the rally. I'm just Tony's buddy.
"It was a thrill as a wrestling fan to be a part of something so historic [at the rally]… No, I don't work there and there's lots of people saying, 'Oh, Starrcast is an AEW event.' No, we're featuring a ton of AEW talent, but Starrcast is owned by me and it's an independent thing. There will be a ton of wrestlers from other companies there….It's the exact same as the first [Starrcast]. It's sort of the official unofficial – if that makes any sense."
With Thompson's experience in hosting podcasts, he was asked if there have been any talks of him working with AEW as a commentator or backstage interviewer.
"I have absolutely no experience in doing any sort of commentary so I would be awful at play-by-play or color," said Thompson. "There are so many more well-qualified people for that. I am not the guy.
"Between my work schedule and me being a big, ol' fat guy, I am probably not the guy to have on tv. I have no aspirations of doing [commentary]. It is a hard, thankless job. If you have a great night, it really means you go unnoticed. If you have an off night, it's all anyone talks about. I'm gonna stick to mortgages and talking about old wrestling."
AEW's launch rally in Jacksonville just happened to be taking place a couple of miles away from WWE hosting SmackDown Live. Many fans who appeared at SmackDown wearing AEW shirts were forced to remove those shirts or cover up, but Thompson doesn't believe that was Vince McMahon's call.
"If I had to guess, I would say it's not Vince's call," stated Thompson. "I would say it's somebody down the line who doesn't want to get in trouble for that, so swap it out. I just think, at this point, there isn't anything for Vince to be worried about.
Thompson says AEW is still a startup while WWE is very profitable and while McMahon may be a little worried about losing talent, he's not worried about losing market share to a promotion that hasn't even run its first show yet.
Thompson does, however, think that McMahon will be keeping an eye on that first show, Double or Nothing.
"I expect Vince to watch it," stated Thompson. "But the idea that he's mandated it to take off your AEW shirt, I just don't think that's real. I think that's somebody trying to CYA for their own job."
With AEW being backed by billionaires, many are seeing similarities between its launch and WCW's emergence in the mid-1990s during the Monday Night Wars. But Thompson believes it's a little premature for those comparisons.
"I've tried to purge my brain from going down the path because I don't want to compare AEW to WCW," said Thompson. "I want to let AEW be what it is…. I don't want to judge it against the successes or failures of another company. It is a whole new game now – promotions are working together and the guys are able to make their own brand through social media. Everything is different now so I'm trying very hard not to draw any sort of comparisons to WCW.
"What is unavoidable is that the talent now has options. Instead of feeling like you're stuck in your WWE deal and have to renew, now you have options and that is really excited. It's just fun to see the deck shuffled."
Starrcast II will be held in Las Vegas from May 23-26. A pre-sale starts on Feb. 12 at 8pm EST and the general public onsale is Feb. 15 at noon EST. More information can be found here.
Conrad's full WINCLY interview can be heard in the podcast player below. In it he also opens up further about his personal friendship with Tony Khan, planning Starrcast 2, AEW's Double or Nothing and more.