The latest episode of "AEW Unrestricted" had AEW President and CEO Tony Khan. The podcast was recorded on the morning of the announcement that AEW and WarnerMedia have extended their Dynamite contract through 2023. Khan discussed the excitement of the TV deal and what is to come in the future.
"There's gonna be more from AEW," Khan said. "We're gonna develop another show with our partners at WarnerMedia, and I'm excited for Dynamite on TV for a long time to come at least through 2023. Hopefully a long time after that."
Khan noted how excited he was not only for the executives but also the people working at AEW for the security the TV deal provides. He talked about the gamble of producing AEW and the millions of dollars invested into the company. He proclaimed AEW a success for getting an extension and said that his gamble has paid off.
Tony Schiavone asked Khan about how AEW came to be. Khan revealed the original name of what would eventually become AEW.
"It wasn't AEW to begin with," Khan said. "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."
Khan discussed meeting president of TBS and TNT and CCO of Turner Kevin Reilly in 2018 when networks were looking to sign big television contracts with WWE. Khan said he saw that the landscape of wrestling was changing and that there was a lot of money in wrestling on TV. The two met at two different occasions at a Halloween party where Khan was dressed up as Macho Man Randy Savage. The third time they met, Khan caught Reilly's attention when when he talked about how WCW was the number one wrestling show on the network 20 years ago. He brought up the idea of bringing wrestling back on TNT and filling the void that was lost when WCW shut down.
Cody has previously called the wrestling live event system "antiquated", and Khan said he wanted to bring fans live weekly TV which he feels has been missing in the wrestling business. He talked about wrestling promotions doing a taping for four or five shows or taping at a theme park and how that can get stale for wrestling fans.
"We did this not so that I could do this job that I've always wanted to do for fun but because I believe that if we ran this business and it's part of the business plan that we had a really good chance to do exactly what we've just done: to get a renewal from TNT, to stay on this great channel [and] to bring wrestling fans weekly TV and not the kind of weekly TV that other companies have been offering like taping in theme parks and taping four [or] five shows a month. Then you get to week three [or] week four, things aren't fresh anymore," Khan said. "The idea of taping TV three [or] four weeks in advance, it just did not sit well with me, and it's not something that I wanted to do which is why we bare the great expense we do every week like we are this week in going to a different city almost every week and presenting almost always live shows. I think that's something that had been missing from the wrestling business."
Khan noted how WCW was big due to the fact that they were live in a different city every week. He talked about how the technology of today can help make their shows look bigger along with the investments they are making. He connected those investments to the fact that they are a big company that can't be "bullied out of the wrestling business."
"When you look back, I mean Tony you were there, the most successful kind of new start-up show in the mid-to-late '90s, Nitro, started to air. I think a big key element was you guys went to different cities and that you were live and you had the state of the art production values. Dynamite looks a hell of a lot better in terms of being HD and all of the things we can do now with the technology vs. what SD Nitro looked like, but definitely, for the late '90s, Nitro was a state of the art, cutting edge show," Khan said. "I felt like, for us, if somebody were to go do that, to make those investments in the quality and show people that they care about the show and they're gonna invest in it. We're a big company. It's not like we're gonna get bullied out of the wrestling business."
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW Unrestricted with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.