As noted, AEW’s Founder and President Tony Khan was a recent guest on The Steve Austin Show. One area of marketing that Khan was greatly confident in was AEW’s approach to their social media, noting that it was majorly responsible for Double Or Nothing‘s success.
“What’s cool is that we didn’t have a history of AEW to build up [Double or Nothing],” Khan explained. “We had to use social media: we had to use Road to Double or Nothing, Being the Elite, our various social media channels and press conferences we have done, ticket sale dates, promotional parties that were pretty much press conferences. It’s the things we had done and angles we had done to essentially create teasers and spots because we didn’t have a history.”
Khan plans to use the growing library of match footage to better help establish stories and personal feuds between their superstars in the future. However, for the time being, he was in awe at what Cody and Dustin Rhodes were able to produce without access to much past footage to work with.
“We now have great footage and we are only going to build more and more content, and more and more footage to build up this library of content, but at the time, we didn’t have that, so for Cody and Dustin Rhodes to have launched with the most emotion – [it was] the best feeling, and to me, one of the best singles matches that you will have ever seen one-on-one that encounters personal issues. [It] reminds me of Steve Austin versus Bret Hart at WrestleMania 13 in every way. It is a different kind of personal issue, but to me, evoking some kind of emotional response.”
Continuing on the subject of Bret “The Hitman” Hart, Khan recounted the brainstorming session he had with AEW Executive VP Cody Rhodes that lead to Bret as their choice to present the AEW World Championship. With the other Executive VPs in mind, Khan reached out to the entire group to get the decision approved.
“It just felt right. To be honest, I was on the phone with Cody one night and this was a segment that he was working on: the title segment. You saw what it became with the title segment, where my friend, Jack Whitehall introduces Bret Hart. Bret Hart: the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be came out. Bret is an all-time great legend in professional wrestling, and to me, there was not anybody better for this than him. The way it happened was that Cody and I were on the phone talking about this segment, and he was like, ‘Maybe a legend brings it out?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, maybe Ric Flair or Ricky Steamboat.’ And then I was like, ‘What about Bret Hart?” Cody was like, ‘Yeah, I love it. I love it. It’s great.’ I had to reach out to him and talk to the guys to see what they think, and they all loved it.”
It was one of Cody’s tasks to get the meetings with Bret arranged, and he was able to schedule a private dinner for Hart and Khan to meet and discuss business matters. Tony was well aware of the legend sitting before him, and the family that has continued to establish the importance of professional wrestling for generations.
“I had actually never met Bret Hart face to face until we got to Las Vegas a couple of nights before the show, when we had dinner together,” Khan stated. “What a real pleasant and charming guy. I was so honored to have him there; he was so kind to work with us, and it meant so much to have him there to be this great pro wrestling champion who encompasses everyone’s love of professional wrestling. He means so much to so many people around the world, globally. Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega went out and beat the hell out of each other and had one of the most incredible pay-per-view main events in a really long time. That, people are still talking about, with [it’s] shocking finish.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The Steve Austin Show with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.