Tony Khan Says Ricky Starks’ Absence Could Benefit Him Like Shawn Michaels In The ’90s

Tony Khan stopped by Busted Open Radio for his weekly segment. One topic heavily touched upon was Ricky Starks' neck injury. The AEW star suffered a small fracture in his neck that will keep him out three months, and Khan said that he could not feel worse for his budding star.

"I feel terrible," Khan said. "I wasn't going to say anything about it. Rico (Starks) in the match against Hangman had hurt his neck. He came out of it feeling okay, he really felt like like he dodged a bullet. So we felt good about it but Doc (Samson) said 'pull him out' and had him go get checked out. And he had a little soreness and Doc sent him for an MRI. We didn't know what to expect. Rico thought he was going to be okay and it turned out he had a small fracture in his neck.

"So he's going to be sitting out for awhile. It's very scary, but I'm really glad they took all the precautions they took. That's why Doc sent him to get a second opinion and go get an MRI. They definitely told him to take a few months off and rest. It's a very unfortunate situation. I wasn't going to say that specifically, but it somehow got out. I talked to Starks about it last night and I'm really gutted for him, because he's worked so hard to get to this spot. And he would've been a big part of Double or Nothing. I can't say enough good things about Ricky Starks and what he does for AEW."

Despite the setback, Khan noted the injury could have been far worse. He is also confident that Starks could come back better than ever, similar to fellow AEW star Britt Baker. He specifically pointed to a period of time when Shawn Michaels was out of action, only to return to the ring as a more well rounded wrestler.

"Do you remember when Shawn Michaels had that phase in the mid 90's, in 94, where he wasn't wrestling as actively?" Khan asked co-host Tommy Dreamer. "Even before they (Shawn and Diesel) won the tag belts, he was almost more of the manager. He did some speaking, did some announcing and became a more versatile performer. And I thought when he came back and they were the tag team and then did the turn that he was probably in a better place for it, really.

"I think that can hopefully be what we get out of this. He (Ricky) can come back and, being involved with Hobbs and Cage, that when he's back he'll be in a better position. But it's very unfortunate. I'm just glad he's okay and, in the moment, I think we all felt like 'that could've been a lot worse', when Hangman put him down. Starks is one of the most exciting young wrestlers we have, and I'm just glad, like I told him, 'months is better than years. And so the few months, we'll get through this.' He's been a huge part of our success and I think when we come back hopefully we can experience success in this time when he's out, and we'll be in a better place when he comes back and hopefully he will too."

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Busted Open Radio and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription