In an appearance on Wrestling Observer Radio with Dave Meltzer and Garrett Gonzalez, AEW President Tony Khan was asked about the philosophical differences between the way AEW scouts talent and how WWE scouts talent. The question comes as reports suggest WWE is no longer interested in independent wrestling talent. Khan, not surprisingly, disagreed with that outlook.
“There are people that look great that will never be good at this,” Khan said. “And you can pick a hundred great looking people and you might find zero that actually are great at what wrestlers really do. A lot of the best wrestlers, if you took a hundred people and you picked 90 of them and there were 10 left over, they’d probably be in the 10 left over people. There’s a lot of people who have made it in this business that you would never guess have that talent. But they broke through to the fans. If you auditioned people on their physical ability or how good they look in a speedo, Mick Foley or Dax Harwood or a lot of other people, Darby Allin, people aren’t necessarily going to be lining up to sign those guys as their number one draft pick. But frankly I like to watch wrestling. And I think watching somebody wrestle is the best way to get a sense of how good of a wrestler they are. Listening to them talk is a great way to get a sense of how they are talking.
“You don’t have to do everything, you have to do some things. But if you’re not coming from a background of wrestling or coming from a background of talking in wrestling, it’s a lot harder to make it. I’ve made investments like that. I’m not saying it’s a totally crazy thing to do. Like Anthony Ogogo. He was an Olympic medalist, and I don’t think in America people realized how famous Anthony Ogogo is in England. I know he’s a household name and everybody in England knows who Anthony Ogogo is. It’s a big deal for an international wrestling company, especially a company that is the number one wrestling TV company in England, in the UK, which is us, AEW. So I thought he made a lot of sense for us, but I also don’t go out and do that stuff all the time. Most of our talent, 90% of our talent, are coming from another wrestling company, whether it’s New Japan, WWE, Impact or the independents or somewhere else. That’s philosophical, but it’s also healthy to have different styles and have different people doing different things.”
Ultimately Khan concludes that neither side will ever agree on this situation. He also wondered if this would make things harder for independent talent, even if it would end up being helpful to his own promotion.
“I can’t make them believe what I believe and I’m never going to believe what they believe, that’s for sure,” Khan said. “I think it’s kind of funny, but it’s harder for the independent wrestlers. I think it’s good in some ways for AEW and New Japan. It intrigues me, and I think it’s interesting.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Wrestling Observer Radio and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription