AEW President and CEO Tony Khan was a on a recent episode of the Talk Is Jericho podcast where they reflect on AEW’s 2020. The two noted that there have been very few ref bumps in AEW matches with the biggest one being in The Acclaimed vs. Young Bucks match, and Khan talked about the importance of establishing rules in AEW.
“Ref bumps, DQ’s [and] count-outs, just going in I don’t do a lot of them,” Khan noted. “On Dark every once in a while there’s a count-out or a DQ, but for the most part, we really haven’t had a lot. Draws, I think it’s important to establish. We had a very important one that set the tone early on, PAC and [Jon] Moxley. It happens. Cody [Rhodes] and Darby [Allin], you can give Cody a lot of credit for that.
“You give The Young Bucks credit for the people they’ve identified. It was Matt and Nick’s idea to put Orange Cassidy with The Best Friends. Matt called me about, and Cody absolutely did not want to beat Darby, absolutely did not want to beat him. God bless him for that. It was a great call.”
Khan also discussed the push TNT Champion Darby Allin has gotten over the past couple of months. He explained that while Allin could work exciting matches with guys of similar size, he knew that to truly make Allin a bigger star, he would have to work against bigger guys like Will Hobbs.
“Darby worked Serpentico on one of these early pandemic Dark’s where we’re looking at, again, it was a local guy in Serpentico,” Khan said. “A guy who’s another one that we could talk about who’s great that came in this year. So Serpentico and Darby had this tremendous match.
“It was a great, for lack of a better term, I thought it was a great Nitro lucha match. It was awesome, and I loved it. It just wasn’t exactly what you’re looking for when Darby’s going to get the push he is. For it to be as competitive as it was, it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but at that point the pandemic, hey, the contents pretty great too.
“It’s great to have stuff in the in the library, and it’s a great match that they had, but it made me start to realize that you probably want to have some monstrous opponents as the guys for Darby. Will Hobbs I thought would be perfect. I’d loved him on Dark. I literally made myself the agent on it, and Darby gave me everything.”
Khan confirmed on Talk Is Jericho that he personally worked on the match as well as fulfilling his other duties that he does on Dynamite. He talked about the chaos backstage as well as how the match went well for everyone involved.
“We’re doing Darby vs. Will Hobbs, and it’s the Saturday night Dynamite where Brodie [Lee] beat Cody for the TNT Title pretty quick, and they had that great amazing brawl at the end where The Dark Order were up strong,” Khan recalled. “And we had Darby vs. Hobbs. So I’ve got the notes on what’s going on. I’m the agent keeping the time and doing the announcers, and I’m doing all three.
“I’m in between doing all three. I’m talking [and] doing all three things and then at one point, I looked at Max (MJF) and Ricky, and I’m like, ‘This is really hard.’ That’s what I was doing. They both laughed, but the idea was Darby gets a 4-minute competitive match where the other guy beats him up a lot, and Will Hobbs would be perfect and worked out well. It hit a total home run, and it was a perfect thing to go from there.”
Khan later talked about Sting, and Sting signing with AEW. He noted that Sting’s son had a tryout with the Jacksonville Jaguars, so he and Sting have known each other for a few years. He said he jumped at the chance to sign Sting once his WWE contract expired and praised the work he has done so far.
“I’ve known him a long time. He’s a great person,” Khan said. “When he became available, it made all the sense in the world, and I thought it would be great to sign Steve into an agreement to come in. We talked, and now we’re doing exactly what I wanted to do and what he wanted to do. I think it’s worked out great. It’s been great for us, and he’s really happy too.
“I can speak for him coming in, he’s been really optimistic, and he’s just having, I really believe, a good time. The promo that Sting and Darby did this week, the hoodlums. Darby’s a hoodlum, and Sting’s a hoodlum too. It’s great stuff. He came up with that, and it’s just trying to ask him to be creative, giving him the situation, put him in a situation and asking him, what would he say and do in this situation? And that was what Sting and Darby would do, and that was awesome.”
When asked about the favorite thing he has booked so far, Khan named the Allin vs. Team Taz feud that is set to culminate at Revolution in a Street Fight. Khan explained before that the feud started when Taz tried to recruit Allin and put him under his wing, but now, Team Taz has grown adding Hobbs and Hook to the mix, and Khan praised all of the story beats including the big Allin matches against Brian Cage and Ricky Starks.
“As far as my favorite thing that’s a start to finish thing that I did a lot of stuff on, I brought it up before but definitely the whole Darby against Team Taz and what it became and then bringing in Sting. It’s still going, and it’s been going a long time,” Khan pointed out. “I think there’s been a lot of cool moments. Ricky coming in. Like I said, didn’t have him as the name but knew we needed to add somebody with Brian [Cage], and that was clearly the guy and then Will along the way.
“It was clearly the guy and Taz and of course knew that Tyler Hook would be big for us some time too, and he’s a great kid too. Taz would add so much to it with his expertise and being a great coach, and he’s a great commentator for us, but he adds so much to them and the presentation of it. Ricky has added a lot too. Brian was a guy who signed off the bat, and he was injured when we first signed him.
“And I was ready to bring him in. I had this idea saved up for Darby, but then with Sting being available, plugging him into it, I wanted to do something big, build-up to a big Darby vs. Ricky match and save Darby vs. Brian. So we get two huge ratings along the way, build them both up for months and months, and we end up doing huge ratings for both. We did a over a million for Darby and Ricky, and Ricky had never won a match on Dynamite. Ricky I really believe in and had great moments. He’s had great ideas too.”
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