On the Thursday episode of The Wrestling Inc. Daily, the podcast featured AEW President Tony Khan’s media call in anticipation of All Out. In the media call, Khan addressed early reports of former Turner President Kevin Reilly saying that Dark would be moved to TNT.
“It’s a great relationship, and like I said, it’s the lifeblood of our company, our media partnership, and that was not accurate. We were not going to bring Dark as the third hour, and we had communicated that, but it was a miscommunication,” Khan revealed. “I think Kevin misunderstood some of the material. Dark was doing very, very well, and Dark has actually risen since this conversation we had with Kevin, but we would do a totally different third hour and keep Dark on YouTube. That is still the plan, and that show will be launched in the next year. I don’t have an exact date.
“I can promise you it will be in the next year, but I don’t know exactly when, and there’s a lot of work that’s going to go into it that still needs to be done in terms of market testing. A lot goes into launching a show, and before it’ll go on network television, we’ll have to do all that work. And I think, frankly, as far as going in and doing that market research and putting together a launch plan, the pandemic sidetracked us on that, and it made it more difficult. And as far as people developing new shows and working on them, a lot of shows have been slowed down.
“We’ve been really fortunate that AEW Dynamite has been on through the pandemic and done really really well and has consistently been around the top 10 shows, and that was our goal and their goal for us. And I don’t know exactly when but as things are starting to hopefully get more and more normal and as hopefully the country keeps trending in a better direction, hopefully in terms of going back to work, we’ll be definitely watching the show soon. I don’t know the exact date though.”
Reilly is now no longer with Warner Media, and Khan admitted that Reilly was a big part of AEW being brought to life. He talked about All In and it’s parallels to AEW.
“I’m very fortunate that I met Kevin,” Khan expressed. “Without Kevin, there would not be AEW quite possibly, and I’ll say that because even when we got to a point where we didn’t have a deal and I wasn’t sure the show was going to be on TNT, I had gotten far enough down the road where I knew I was going to do this. It was a crazy process. Sometimes I see people say, and it’s not a bad thing because it’s a really important part of our brand, and it’s a selling point for what I’m doing this weekend, and this is fitting timing, that it’s the two-year anniversary of All In, but it’s the one-year anniversary of All Out.
“All In was a hugely important show for the wrestling business. I was going to start wrestling company before All In. I’ve seen people say that there wouldn’t be AEW without All In. There probably would be AEW without All In, but I don’t know if it would have been the same success it was or how it would have gone off. Jon Moxley had one of the greatest quotes ever when he described meeting me and how it went and how it could have gone, and he was like, ‘I didn’t know him. Could he have totally screwed it up?’ But it didn’t.”
Khan spoke more on his relationship with Reilly and how instrumental Reilly was for listening to his ideas about AEW. He revealed that he had been so far into business negotiations that he had already met Chris Jericho and would have signed elsewhere if TNT was not interested.
“For our relationship, Kevin was the guy that, for me, he opened a lot of doors,” Khan revealed. “When I went to All In, I wanted to see how it went. I knew the guys had drawing power, and as far as the show, I wanted to see a good show, but whether it was good or bad, there was going to be AEW, and for Kevin, I had gone to Kevin in April on effectively a whim. Hopefully, it inspires people because like the worst thing people can say to you if you have a dream is no, and I know I was in a unique position and effectively born on third base.
“I was able to, effectively, get home for us on this by going to Kevin and making an aggressive move, telling him I wanted to start a wrestling company and that if he was going to be bidding on pro wrestling, he should talk to me. And I think at first, even though I had credibility in the world of sports and we were friends, he thought maybe this was a completely crazy idea, but he humored it. But it wasn’t like Kevin just green-lighted the show. I spent over a year by the time we really got there but for almost a year before I even had any commitment from them. I mean he put me in at the ground level with all the marketing and media people, and then we got to a point where I wasn’t sure that the show was going to be on TNT.
“But I’ve gotten so far down the road before I actually had a deal with them that I needed to do this. I knew now that it was going to be a viable business. By December I got so into the weeds on this that there were a couple different business models, and I found people were interested in it whether I signed with TNT or not. I was going to have a chance to do this and make it a viable business, and I’d already talked to Chris and talked to people.”
Khan reiterated how important All In was and how it was a full circle moment for himself, Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks to go from All In to All Out the next year. Khan said again how important Reilly was to himself and AEW and how surreal this journey has been for him.
“All In is a great, great achievement in wrestling,” Khan stated. “It was a great show, but to me, coming in a year later with All Out, to be in the same building and to be where I came to their show as a friend and as a fan, and then to be there working together and putting the show together under AEW, it felt really cool and it fell we had come full circle. I was happy, and I was proud of Cody and The Young Bucks. I’m really grateful for Kevin. If I hadn’t gone up to Kevin, I never would have had the guts to start this company, and the guys might have found another person to work with. It could have been a totally different thing, but I don’t think anybody would have made the eight-figure, tens of millions of dollars commitment into starting a business that we made, and I don’t know what the returns would have been.
“But I think we’ve had great returns, and I just don’t think I’d be here without Kevin Reilly, and I don’t think AEW would be here without Kevin Reilly. So I’m really grateful to him. Now, I think we’ve got this great relationship, and we have a chance to do something really really special. I never dreamed in my wildest dreams all the years that I wrote Dynamite in notebooks and dreamed of starting a wrestling company that we would be on TNT because in my wildest dreams, wrestling would be back on TNT. It’s like something out of a fantasy for me, and again, when I talked about how happy I am to be at work with the people I work with to be on the channel I am and to work with these people, it’s such an honor.”
Khan commented on his current relationship with Warner Media stating that it’s been a dream partnership for him. He said he hopes to continue to grow that relationship as AEW continues to grow.
“And Warner Media is the dream partner for me. They’ve been a dream partnership,” Khan expressed. “We did All Out last year. It was a big success. We have a chance for this show to be a great success and a bigger success because of the exposure they’ve given us over the past year with Dynamite. To our new new media bosses and the new team, just starting to get to know them and they have a vision, and I really believe we fit into that vision. I believe that wrestling is some of the strongest streaming content in the world. I believe there are a lot of people who consume wrestling, and I believe that we are a really strong cable property and that’s how we got here.
“We’ve built Dynamite up into a top ten show consistently on Wednesday night. I am constantly thinking about it, retooling it, kicking myself, beating myself up to try and make Dynamite better, and I really believe that if we all put our heads together that we can make Dynamite the best wrestling show in the world if it’s not already in your opinion. I think we’re working hard, but I do think that Warner Media, I can’t say enough about the relationship, and I hope that as the company, AEW grows and as we get more and more established, we do more and more things together.”
There have been reports recently about a second TV show for AEW. However, Khan teased other projects in the future without an actual date and talked about his desire to listen to the people and the fans.
“You’ll see a lot more projects in addition to Dynamite, which is our flagship show, and Wednesday night is our flagship product,” Khan noted. “You’ll see a lot more different kinds of shows in addition to this third hour of wrestling. Things that aren’t necessarily your classic wrestling show but I also want Dynamite to feel like you’re wrestling show, and if there’s four times a year going into these PPVs where I don’t put wrestling, wrestling, wrestling on please know that the other 48 weeks of the year, it is the number one concern.
“Frankly, I hear you guys on these go homes. Maybe I should put more wrestling on the go homes and not be so story-driven in the second hour, and the worst thing I could do is not listen to what you guys say and the fans say because they’re always right. That’s why over the over the holidays.”
The full audio from Tony’s media call aired as part of today’s episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it’s released Monday – Friday afternoon by clicking here.