AEW President Tony Khan made his weekly appearance on Busted Open Radio Friday to promote AEW’s upcoming Grand Slam event in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Khan spoke enthusiastically of the venue, and revealed he hopes to make Grand Slam, which will cover episodes of AEW Dynamite and Rampage next week, a yearly occurrence.
“It’s amazing. I was there just a couple months ago. I went and I took Orange Cassidy with me and we did some promos there,” Khan said of Arthur Ashe. “It’s tremendous. We were at center court and you could see every seat from there. Truly, the ring will be visible to every single seat with zero obstruction.
“When you buy a ticket, that’s kind of what you expect. But in this case, you’re going to be right on top of the ring. It’s a really neat venue Arthur Ashe Stadium. They had never done a wrestling show there, so it’s great to be the first.
“But it’s pretty amazing when you can be the first wrestling show in such a historic, awesome venue that’s very famous worldwide. It’s known throughout America as the home of the US Open, but the US Open is watched in most countries in the world. It’s a pretty prestigious event and it’s cool that the Park District and the US Open folks agreed to have AEW Grand Slam. I’m really hoping it’s something we can do in New York with Arthur Ashe Stadium every year.”
The last stop before AEW Grand Slam came this past week, when AEW ran Dynamite and Rampage out of the Prudential Center in New Jersey. The arena was originally supposed to be the sight of Blood & Guts in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, with many fans holding onto their tickets for that show till now. Khan wasn’t stunned by this, pointing to AEW having their finger on the fan’s pulse as a reason why.
“It feels amazing but I’m also, as a wrestling fan, not surprised,” Khan said. “I always wanted AEW to get to this point. I think it’s the best of a few different things. People may disagree with this, but it’s just my opinion. I’ve always wanted AEW to have the spirt of ECW and those great hardcore fans and that independent spirt that has lived on through those same fans that they’ve spread to over the past twenty some years with the financial muscle and backing of WCW.
“And like ECW, there’s one crazy person who stays up all night, constantly editing, rewriting and tweaking ideas, and that’s me. ECW was the brainchild of Paul Heyman and he was a crazy workhorse and had tons of ideas and would constantly tweaking the cards.
“But another thing, in addition to being a very good matchmaker, Paul had his finger on the pulse of his fans. I try to have that. They never had the financial muscle of WCW, they never had the agreement with TNT and the huge distribution that WCW had. We do have those things. I do have the billion dollars in financial muscle from TNT. But instead of relying on the networks for the money or the muscle, we brought our own. And instead of having the network and the booking committee and all that, it’s one person’s vision.
“People may not always agree with it, but I think it has helped, especially in the last couple of years, really through the pandemic as I got more organized, to have one match maker making all the cards. And it really helps down even to Elevation and Dark, I think. Because there’s a clear path for people, there’s a clear trajectory.”
Khan also talked about building up the women’s division, and how he has a long term plan for both that division and AEW as a whole. Ultimately he concluded that AEW is in the position he always hoped to bring it to, and now it’s up to him, and the company, to keep things on track.
“I’m really glad you brought up the women’s division because it’s something I’ve been spending a ton of time on in trying to build up more stars in the women’s division,” Khan said to host Dave LaGreca. “I have a lot of long term planning there and just in general. I think right now, the hierarchy of the card is really cool. There’s a lot of big stars from the outside coming in, there’s a lot of established stars in AEW, and there’s also a lot of people who aren’t necessarily stars that are established parts of AEW television that millions of fans have seen them, they know them. And they have a great chance to either move up to the top of the card or they might continue to be the people appearing on Dynamite, waiting to break through. I just think right now it’s a great time for wrestling fans. I’ve always dreamed of the company getting into this position. And now that we’re here, we just can’t afford to steer the ship into a bad position, if that makes sense.”
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