The Thursday episode of The Wrestling Inc. Daily podcast featured the media call conducted by AEW President Tony Khan ahead of AEW All Out. AEW Dynamite will soon approach it's one-year anniversary soon, and Khan was asked what he has learned during that time. He admitted that he put a lot on Thunder Rosa and Serena Deeb in their Dynamite match because of how he likes to structure his shows throughout the year.
"Last night is a really good example, honestly, there's times where the red light goes on and it's 7:59:59 and 8:00, the show clicks on, and you should have realized something sooner but literally it doesn't occur to you until you're there in the chair," Khan described. "And that was me last night and there's times where it's going to be like that, and frankly, I know last night there was a lot of great wrestling in the first hour. And I put a lot of responsibility on Thunder Rosa, who made her in-ring Dynamite debut, and Serena to have the strong wrestling match in the second hour, and I thought they nailed it. And they were put in a showcase position in the semi-final, and they nailed it, but I kind of knew we were putting a lot on them.
"And thankfully they hit a home run for us, but in the first hour, like I said in Kansas City, in the go-home shows, my philosophy has been put a lot of wrestling there, put a lot of story stuff in the second half. Now in Kansas City, some of the story stuff you got in the second half, the weigh-in with Jericho and Moxley with this big crowd in Kansas City, they loved it. Orange Cassidy's coming out and challenging PAC in the show. There's a lot of fun stuff.
"Last night, frankly, I understood that if people want to see a lot of wrestling in the show, 48 weeks a year, that's all I think about is wrestling, wrestling wrestling. Four times a year when we have these huge huge PPV cards, they, that week, become the priority. The go-home shows, I treat them differently. The highs and lows and the lessons I've learned, every week, I learn a new lesson."
Khan also pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced him to learn a lot of lessons throughout experiencing many highs and lows. He called Revolution a high point this year for him because of the amount of work he helped put into the matches.
"The pandemic has been lesson after lesson after lesson," Khan admitted. "I try to learn things and not do them again, and if I make a mistake twice, then I definitely try not to make it three times. It's the highs and lows. They're truly the same thing. It's just like learning and trying to put together a good show. I have a feeling that this weekend is going to be one of the great highs. I look back at Revolution as probably a high point for us. I just think that day was a perfect day for me.
"I had met with a lot of people. I've been with Orange Cassidy and PAC talking separately and very late, talking about things that I wanted to see you tomorrow, and I've been with Jon Moxley and Chris Jericho very very late, separately talking about things that were going to happen with them. And I ended up getting very little sleep."
Khan said that this weekend will be another one of the highs because of the card that has been put together. He asserted that All Out "is going to be the best wrestling you've seen since the pandemic."
"Since then, the wrestling business has changed dramatically," Khan noted. "Last year, we were the number one company in attendance per show in the world of wrestling, and this year is not really about trying to put fans into arenas. The philosophy of the business has changed completely in the last six months, and I feel like we've tried to roll with the punches. This weekend is going to be one of the highs."
I can't tell you how excited I am for Saturday. I held back in the second hour last night, too much maybe because I wanted you to really anticipate the wrestling on this show because the main card on Saturday, bell to bell, is going to be the best wrestling you've seen since the pandemic."
Khan continued boldly praising Double or Nothing calling a "bastion of ingenuity." He even went as far as to say that "Double or Nothing kicked the crap out of WrestleMania.
"Furthermore, I hate that it's come to this. I hate that this is what we have to do, but I've used this analogy privately and publicly and I'm sorry to give such a long-winded answer. The pandemic has been the best example of this. There have been such highs and lows in this pandemic, trying to do great things. To come back and do Double or Nothing and do that, I thought Double or Nothing was like the bastion of ingenuity. To be able to sit back, and it's like, 'OK, we you know with what we have. How can we do a great pay-per-view?' I thought and I'm sorry, I'll just be honest.
"We were both operating during the pandemic. I tested everybody coming in. This might be the pullout quote of the press conference, but I'm going to say it, I thought Double or Nothing kicked the crap out of WrestleMania. It was a much better PPV. We were both operating under difficult circumstances. I think ours, we were fortunate. It was a little bit later in the pandemic, and we had implemented testing and we were doing testing at that time, but when we did Double or Nothing, we were still the only ones doing testing. We [had] a good testing plan at that point. To set up a bubble and do that PPV, I was so proud of it. We've come a long way since Double or Nothing."
Khan admitted that live wrestling shows with packed arenas are unlikely for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He compared what AEW has done with live audiences to drive-in movie theaters noting that they are much safer having packed arenas. He said that All Out will aim to have increase the capacity of Daily's Place from 10% to 15%.
"If you want to see a show with wrestling fans and a packed arena, I can't give that to you right now, but what I can give you and I've talked a lot about in the last week or two has been a drive-in movie theater," Khan explained. "I know everybody wants to go back to the movies, at least I do. I haven't, obviously, been able to go to the cinema in a really long time, but the drive-in movie is a way to go with your friends and family and feel safe and do the same thing you used to do before, which is go see a new movie together in a kind of a captive experience where everyone's not going to be on their phones and and paying attention to the movie on the big screen. I can't offer you the cinema, but I can offer you the drive-in movie, and that's how I feel about what we're doing with the live events.
"And it's one of the great highs for me, and to see the live crowd, Chris Jericho described it as one of the great highs of his 30-year storybook career last week, having that crowd back. We've got a lot of unallocated space we didn't use, but we didn't want to stretch the security personnel. The staff at Daily's Place and the AEW team have done such an amazing job on this, and we're going to go a little bit closer to 15% for All Out. Again, I compare it to the drive-in movie theater. I think this is over 99% safer than the experience of packing people into an arena.
"I think this is the only way to do live event wrestling shows right now is outdoor, socially distanced, seating pods, fans in protective masks and having people around, not to be a jerk about it but just to remind people, 'hey, please don't get out of your pod and go hang out with the people in the other pods, and please keep your mask on when you're not sipping your drink or eating your pretzel.' We've had that, and this weekend will be, I believe, one of the all-time highs in the company. When you look at the card, I'm really excited for it. I think Saturday, All Out, it's going to be a lot different than All Out last year, but I wouldn't have it any other way for the situation and with the people I'm with."
Khan noted that while Britt Baker and Big Swolw's Tooth and Nail Match will be cinematic, the rest of the card will not feature cinematic matches. He explained that Britt Baker is coming off her multiple injuries for the first time in months, and AEW is using this match to ease her back in.
"There are stipulations on The Buy-In. The show is not going to be cinematic," Khan assured. "I think for the live event experience, it's not going to be a packed arena full of fans, but there's fans here safely distanced, and it's going to be a live show with fans and putting the cinematic match on the pre-show because there are reasons we needed to do it. The tone and the situation, frankly, Britt's leg injury is not like a work injury. It's not like MJF's neck like Britt had a broken leg and a broken nose.
"So with a fracture in her leg and her nose injury, like we gave her some time off, and this is the first time Britt's come back and done anything physical. Last night, when she attacked Swole was the first time Britt's done physical wrestling activity in a long time, and I'm really excited for this match, but there's a lot of reasons why I think it's the right reason to do it cinematic frankly. And for the people asking, I think that's why."
Khan took the opportunity to hype up the other matches at All Out like the "Mimosa Mayhem" Match between Chris Jericho and Orange Cassidy. He also talked about the Broken Rules Match and the dynamics of the feud between Sammy Guevara and Matt Hardy.
"For the wrestling on the show, there are some stipulations matches, but there's also just a lot of great wrestling," Khan stated. "Even though, there's going to be obviously Mimosa Mayhem, I think it will be a great match, and Chris and Orange Cassidy have had a few, great straight wrestling matches on television now and really great examples of chain wrestling and the art of the comeback.
"Matt Hardy and Sammy, The Broken Rules, effectively, it's a Last Man Standing Loser Leaves Town Match that applies to Matt, and Matt and Sammy have had this great feud. There's a great story that Sammy wants Matt out of AEW. Really since Matt's been in AEW, he's mostly tormented Sammy and vice versa. So Sammy's an original. He originally wrestled in the first-ever singles match in AEW. He wrestled the first ever match on Dynamite, and he's wrestling now in our first Last Man Standing match. He was in her first tables match and this is going to be a lot of fun."
Khan also pointed out the dynamics in the AEW World Title Match between Jon Moxley and MJF. He said that Moxley has been a great champion, but MJF is set-up to be the future of AEW.
"Of course, Moxley vs. MJF will be, I think, a really, really strong wrestling match on this card, and I think when you look at, that that has a chance to really establish whether it's going to be John's run of dominance or whether it's going to be that Max is the future of this company," Khan noted. "And frankly, I think it's both. I think John's had such a great run as a champion, but I also think Max is arguably the future of this company, and I'm really excited for everybody to see what we're going to do here and how we're going to how this match is going to go. I'm really excited for both of them because I think as far as like a big fight feel, this has it to me. I'm really excited for their match."
Khan highlighted other matches at All Out but singled out TNT Champion Brodie Lee. He praised Lee as champion and also highlighted the partnership AEW has with Turner Brodcasting.
"I'd be remiss if I didn't say that I thought how Brodie Lee won the championship was a very, very, very strong moment for us and got a big response and shocked a lot of people. The Dark Order, again, like what I said with the Casino Battle Royale, I think is an organization as a group of heels, they've come very far from where they were last year, and Brodie Lee has a chance to be a great TNT Champion.
"I think the TNT Championship means more in our company than other titles outside of the world title in other wrestling companies if that makes sense. There's a reason there is a TNT Champion. We have the media relationship that's means so much to us. It's our prime source of revenue. It's our prime source of exposure other than these huge quarterly PPVs that we build to like All Out. And Brodie Lee is a great champion for us."
AEW All Out will air live on PPV this Saturday night. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Wrestling Inc. for the transcription. 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.