On a recent episode of Rasslin’ with Brandon F. Walker AEW President Tony Khan and Orange Cassidy joined the show to promote AEW’s upcoming shows across the country. During the interview Khan was asked if it is difficult to give all the talents the T.V. time that they deserve, which the debut of AEW’s new show Rampage in August will help with.
“That’s what Rampage [will help with], more T.V. time is going to be huge,” noted Khan. “Because [right now] we have two hours of T.V. and we have these great streaming platforms and we have AEW Dark and AEW Dark: Elevation, and they’ve been great. But I think now with Rampage coming in it’s 50% more T.V. time going from two hours to three hours.
“So, it’s huge for the roster, and I still plan to expand the roster and add stars to the top of the roster. Because I believe in having the top stars of the present married with some of the great stars of the past. Some of whom are still active and great stars of the present.”
While discussing stars of the past Khan brought up names like Arn Anderson and Jake Roberts, among others, as names that have become a part of the show. Khan went on to list some other legends and said AEW tries to recognize and respect the history of wrestling.
“We have other great stars of the past [like] Arn Anderson and Jake “The Snake” Roberts who are still very much a part of the show,” recognized Khan. “And we bring in legends like Bret Hart and Greg Valentine, even if they’re not their every week and it’s just one appearance, or maybe they’ll come back. [We] try to acknowledge history. We’ve even brought in wrestling executives like J.J. Dillon or Eric Bischoff. So, I respect the history of wrestling as much as anyone and I love it. But also, I believe it has a lot of mileage.”
During the interview Khan was asked about AEW’s signing of Mark Henry. Khan said that Henry is someone who will be a huge benefit to everybody on the roster, but specifically noted that Henry could help teach bigger wrestlers to learn how to use their size during a match. Khan also revealed that he and Henry talked at length about both individual’s shared respect for “The Big Cat” Ernie Ladd.
“I talked to [Mark Henry] for forty-five minutes the other day,” Khan shared. “As a coach, and as a mentor, he is going to be so valuable to everyone on the roster [both] male and female because he has such a great perspective. Particularly [teaching] the larger people with size and how to use that size. But he has insights for everyone [including] the smaller people because he’s worked the big person vs. small person matches. He is so insightful and intelligent, and as a coach he is adding a lot. He’s going to be great as a scout. But he also still has gas in the tank as an athlete and a wrestler.
“We were talking so long about one of my heroes, as somebody who has intersected the worlds [of football and wrestling] . . . I could never dream to make the contributions to both that Ernie Ladd made. ‘Big Cat’ Ernie Ladd who is both a football Hall of Famer and a wrestling Hall of Famer. . . But he’s one of the great football players, a great Chargers legend, a great man, a great wrestler, a great wrestling booker, one of the first, maybe the first, black booker who ran a territory.
“And Mark and I were talking about this at length. I was telling him how much I love and respect Ernie Ladd, and Henry brought up how close he was with Ernie Ladd, and I didn’t know about that, and how much Ernie Ladd taught [Henry]. [He taught him] about how to work, how [to cut] promos, and [Henry] said, ‘Can you hear the Ernie Ladd in my voice?’ And I never did. But his diction and stuff [is similar]. . . Not to compare the two . . . they both want people to come sit under the learning tree and hopefully [Henry] can bring that same kind of legacy of people sitting under the learning tree and learning from Mark Henry like Mark learned from Ernie Ladd.”
While discussing the mixing of legends with current talents, Khan specifically named Sting as someone who has really stood out both onscreen and backstage. Khan went on to praise Sting as someone who came in ready to work and said that he doesn’t know how anyone could’ve drop the ball with Sting.
“Sting, who is very much a star of today… I’ll be honest, I don’t know how you could screw it up with Sting,” admitted Khan. “Because I’ve been working with Sting now for the last seven months. This is the easiest, greatest man that I have ever known. And he wanted to work! He wasn’t looking for a $20 bajillion either, I’ll be honest with you. He would be very useful to any wrestling company in the world, and he wanted to do stuff.
“And he’s at T.V. every week! He’s a huge part of our roster. So, I count him as a star of the present. Sting hadn’t wrestled a match in many years and this year he came back and wrestled two great matches and two very different kinds [of matches]. He’s very much proved he’s still a star of the present.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Rasslin’ with Brandon F. Walker with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.