Earlier today, AEW World Champion Kenny Omega was unveiled as the number one wrestler in PWI’s annual PWI 500 list. Appearing on Busted Open Radio shortly after the announce, AEW President Tony Khan revealed that he was stunned by the revelation at all.
“No surprise, no surprise,” Khan said. “I think it’s very well deserved. It’s a great honor for Kenny. Last year Jon Moxley was a great number one representative for AEW, and I think it’s awesome for Kenny Omega to be #1 in the PWI. I think it’s a lot of milestones for AEW this week and a lot of firsts. It’s definitely the best PPV card I’ve ever been associated with, and I’m just so proud of all our team.
“To be able to come to TV tonight and say ‘this is our crew.’ To be able to look around our locker room and have CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Adam Cole, Ruby Soho and all these great new faces in AEW, it’s pretty special. Things have changed a lot in AEW, and I really believe we have the best roster in all of wrestling right now. So it’s very fitting that our world champion, Kenny Omega, is the number one ranked wrestler in the world.”
Khan is still riding high following AEW All Out this past weekend, which featured the AEW debuts of Bryan Danielson and Adam Cole. The show had the highest expectations from Khan going in and he believes the show exceeded them and then some.
“I had the highest of expectations,” Khan revealed. “On paper it felt like it was going to be the best show we’d ever done. And I told everyone that backstage. ‘I really think this is going to be the best thing we’ve ever done, we just have to deliver.’ It involved execution and everybody working hard and staying on task as a team. It happened. Everybody hit their times and it was one of the best bell to bell shows I can ever remember. And in terms of the moments and the surprises, when you add up everything that happened on the show and how it changed the landscape of pro wrestling today, I do think it’s going to be a show people remember for a very long time. That was our goal with the show. So for AEW All Out, I’m glad it’s going to be remembered as a very historic, monumental, newsworthy PPV.
“It’s also the most watched wrestling PPV by any company outside of WWE since the 90’s. 1999 was definitely the last time anybody put numbers like this outside of WWE. And frankly, when the PPV universe was basically WWE’s game still, before they had gone to a Network subscription model when they were offering linear PPV, this would’ve been a good number for a WWE PPV too. That’s an apples to apples comparison. This is really strong numbers and like I said, it was a one horse race in PPV for about twenty years. And that entire time, nobody else put up numbers like this. So it’s pretty special and it signifies that competition is back in the wrestling business. But I think that was pretty obvious with the statements we made on the PPV, the quality of the show and the free agent acquisitions that we were able to get.”
In the past Khan has talked about the wrestling business heating up in a way it hasn’t since the final few years of the Monday Night Wars. After Sunday, he’s even more convinced the wrestling business is on fire, both AEW and their competitor WWE.
“It really does feel like that level of interest is at an all time high. And we’re seeing it,” Khan said. “There’s ways wrestlers can tell, there’s ways people in a wrestling company can tell when the product is getting hot, and we’re starting to see them. The men and women are starting to get bothered more in the airport. People are coming up to them more often in the street. You get stopped more in the restaurants. It’s amazing and it’s been happening consistently more often. Certainly since the launch of AEW Dynamite and now recently it’s happening more than ever. There’s a lot of funny stories recently from just fans all over the place. You never know where they’re going to pop up, you never know where you’re going to meet them. And it’s always a good sign for how hot the wrestling business is when the people on the street want to stop and talk to you. It’s because AEW is really hot and it was like that when I was a kid. Wrestling was the hottest thing in the late 90’s, and absolutely, right now, in terms of competition on PPV, competition on television, this is the hottest its been.
“To have two wrestling companies that each have two number one shows, that is the sign of the times that wrestling is really hot. We’ve actually added a third top ten show, because AEW Countdown also ranked in the top ten last week. So three top ten shows, two of which number one multiple times, it’s pretty cool. So absolutely, in terms of the television industry and its perception of wrestling, this is the highest its been. And that’s pretty amazing, in terms of what TV networks are paying, in terms of right fees, which are the backbone for our company and financially the backbone for WWE right now. That is a very, very telling sign how much the TV industry believes in pro wrestling and specifically in AEW and our direct competition. Both of us have great support from TV networks, and we’re a young company. We’re only less than two years old on TV, which is pretty amazing. And I think our future is really bright, and I think that’s good news for the wrestling fans and the wrestlers. This is important to have competition in wrestling.
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