Colt Cabana was a recent guest on an episode of Steve and Larson’s Going In Raw. During the interview Cabana was asked how AEW compares to other promotions that Cabana has wrestled in. Cabana says that AEW is the most relaxed working environment that he has ever experienced.
“It’s hard, because I’m in AEW at a time then I was in WWE,” reflected Cabana. “Even when I was in the WWE, I had been in wrestling for 10 years. You know, it’s still the top tier guys and there’s still egg shells. So, when I say I’m at AEW and I’m just in a cutoff t-shirt, in flip flops, doing whatever I want. It’s the coolest work experience.
“I can’t speak for that wrestler who’s like a Danny Limelight. I don’t know what they’re thinking, maybe they’re freaking out, or maybe they’re not, but they probably should be on eggshells. But that is my experience. I’ve been unsigned for however long, by choice. IMPACT tried to sign me a couple of times, Ring of Honor wanted to sign me. I just always said I’d rather do a handshake. I just didn’t like my first contract experience and I don’t think I’d like another one. It was just really told to me that [AEW] would be the chilliest place, that you didn’t have to worry about anything, [and] ‘don’t worry, it’s cool.’”
When discussing AEW’s sudden and quick rise to prominence, Cabana was asked if he ever thought there would be another big wrestling company like AEW. Cabana said that everyone saw how much it took to get everything together to make AEW happen.
“We all know and knew what it took,” said Cabana. “It took someone with a big bank. Even in 2004 Ring of Honor, we all knew that we were of a generation that could change wrestling if we were given the right platform. It was just so independent at the time. And most of those wrestlers did go on and go to the WWE and did change wrestling. But it took not only someone with the bank to bankroll it, but then also not to step on the toes of the creator and the artists. Tony Khan only enhances, he really doesn’t step on any toes. So, he’s the perfect guy to do it and its been great.”
Cabana was asked about how much creative freedom he has in AEW. He says that Tony Khan has ideas that he will make sure are incorporated, but that wrestlers will usually be left to figure out everything else themselves. Cabana also discussed his occasional role as a producer/coach.
”[Tony Khan] has ideas and he makes sure his ideas are, for the most part, are hit,” answered Cabana. “I do some coaching and producing over in AEW. For example, I coached that Young Bucks vs. Fénix and Pac match. That was them. We all sat around, and for the most part that was them putting their match and doing their art. I threw in a couple bits, but besides that, Tony is like, ‘This is the match I want to see. I know it’s going to be great. You guys do it.’ Then they do it, and then they kill it. So, I think, and I don’t want to speak for Tony, but I think Tony has a structured idea of where he wants stuff to go. And he does have great creative ideas, and he comes up with great ideas. So, it’s a lot of collaboration.
“The best I can look at it, for me, from the inside and also the outside, is I remember with Gabe Sapolsky when he was booking early Ring of Honor. It was such a collaboration with the talent and Gabe. And it wasn’t like the boss being like, ‘I’m better than you, this is how it’s done.’ It was like, ‘We’re all on the same team, we’re all equals. Let’s make great magic.’ And I feel that is what it is like with Tony, where he doesn’t talk down to anybody. He’s like, ‘We’re all on the same team, let’s all work and get to the same place.’ Where, I don’t think we can say that for other wrestling organizations.
While discussing Tony Khan, Cabana noted how cool it was to have a boss that would let Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega wrestle in an Exploding Barbwire Deathmatch at AEW Revolution. He also compared Tony to Vince McMahon, saying that Tony is currently around the same age that Vince was when he took over the wrestling business.
“Not only can Moxley and Omega do an exploding barbwire death match, but the owner is super hyped and wants to do it, and loves Onita and FMW,” laughed Cabana. “It isn’t Vince vs. Tony. But it is so cool that Tony is in his early-to-be-a-promoter-years, that I’m not sure if the same idea or passion is there for Vince McMahon. Of course, I can’t speak for Vince McMahon because I’m not around Vince, so I don’t know. But Vince McMahon, when he took over the world of pro wrestling, he was Tony Khan’s age, and he was probably so excited about it. So you see almost the same thing with Tony now, and that’s what gets all of us excited that he’s on board. He was just a huge fan of the Young Bucks, of New Japan, and Omega, and those guys were changing the business, and you know, they did change the business. And then Tony put it all together. Now they get to do it even on an American platform, and now international. So, I love it. It’s the best.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Steve and Larson’s Going In Raw and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription