Recently on Talk Is Jericho, professional wrestling great Chris Jericho spoke with his new boss, AEW President Tony Khan. Among many other things, Khan talked about when he first got the idea to start his own professional wrestling promotion, why the timing is right for a new promotion, being selective about signing talents, and short and long term goals.
According to Khan, he has wanted to start a pro wrestling promotion for his entire life.
"We've been looking at doing it for a very, very long time and it's something that I've wanted to do my entire life," Khan divulged. "It [has] been every bit as exciting as I thought that it would be and to have great people like [Jericho], and like The Young Bucks and Cody, and now Kenny Omega, to work with, you guys, what you're bringing in terms of experience and leadership to this, made it for me possible to do this for this to happen."
In Khan's view, the timing is right for a new professional wrestling promotion now because advertising money is out there, a good TV deal can be had, and the availability of talent.
"A number of factors, economic factors, the fact that I think [pro] wrestling for advertisers now has become attractive, that advertisers can see there is a huge base for wrestling fans now all over the world that are really passionate. And their good people. They're educated people and it's a really diverse group. And I think that there [are] a lot of really passionate fans around this group of wrestlers, the talent, [Jericho] and The Elite, a number of competitors coming into this, Dr. Britt Baker, for Double Or Nothing. We've got a male and female roster with a really, really great engagement among the fans and to me that makes it the right time to strike. And then, like [Jericho] said, when you've got all these great talents with their contracts coming up, and when we're in a market where there's TV money to be had, and it's the right time to try and make a deal with a major network for a wrestling TV show, I think it's the right climate for a number of reasons." Khan added, "it's something that I've always wanted to do and all-of-a-sudden, it just felt like the right time to strike."
With certain talent contracts expiring in 2019, and Khan researching TV deals and media rights, the sports executive determined that the time was right.
"I mean, for a long time, it just started to make more and more sense to me," Khan recalled. "When I'd look at the market, the availability of performers in different windows and I looked at it and saw, 'wow, in 2019, we have a real opportunity here.' I think [the contract status of The Elite] had been public knowledge. I read in the Observer and it had been put online about the deals coming up and then who was and who wasn't working with a deal. And, like, I think it had been pretty public knowledge that [Jericho] had been out working for other places. And also my research of the market and media rights told me that there was going to be a really good climate for us to get involved in this. Just really, all the details came together at the right time."
During the podcast, Khan explained that signing big name stars and other former WWE performers does not make sense when there is only a finite amount of time to showcase everyone. Khan indicated that he is often the "bearer of bad news" for stars who want AEW spots.
"We've already got a tremendous roster and we're still growing," Khan said. "That's why it's really important to be discerning and that's frankly why all the time there are really exciting names that we get and they're great people, but I have to be the bearer of bad news, like, 'I don't think this is going to work out' for whatever reason, usually, these great names are people that are very talented, but like I was saying, for us, we just can't push everybody. There's not enough time."
On the subject of short term goals, Khan stated that he would like AEW to run multiple successful pay-per-views and launch its TV show in 2019.
"I think the short term goal for this year is to do multiple successful pay-per-views, yeah, like Double Or Nothing, and later on in the year we'll be doing something else that's exciting, and we have a charitable event later on in the summer in Jacksonville [Florida], Fight For The Fallen. We'll announce more details for that at a later date. It's a benefit for the victims of gun violence and it's one of the causes we feel really strongly about." Khan continued, "in addition to running more successful pay-per-views, I'd say another short term goal is our television program and I'm excited to announce more details about it again in the future."
As for long term goals, Khan's focus seemed to be more broad with an eye on industry-wide changes.
"And long term goals, I would like five years from now for this to be a growing business that [has] been around, that [has] delivered on all of its promises, that hasn't alienated its fans, that hasn't alienated the performers," Khan claimed. "I would like for everybody to be able to say that I've never lied to them. I'd like [Jericho] to say I never lied to him and I'd like The Bucks, or Cody, and Kenny to say I never lied to them. And I'd like everybody to get out of this saying we gave them a fair chance, that we did something good for them, for their career, that we treated them well. I'd like everybody to come out of this five years from now and say thank goodness that we got into this because the [pro] wrestling business is [in] a better place, the fans are happier. I'd like everybody five years from now, long term, to say that when we got into this it was a pivotal moment that changed things for everybody that loves wrestling for the better. I think that would be awesome."
Check out the interview here or via the audio player below. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: Talk Is Jericho