Tony Khan On Competing Against WWE: “Wrestling Fans Rallied Around AEW Every Time”

AEW President Tony Khan continued his media tour this week, sitting down with Brandon F. Walker of Barstool Rasslin'. Khan has made several remarks about AEW's chief competitor, WWE, over the past week and he continued here, pointing out that WWE chose to run against Rampage this week. He also stated that when that happens, he won't shy away from saying he plans on putting together the better show.

"I've been talking, but really actions speak louder than words. And they're the ones that put a show head to head against me," Khan said. "My point is I had that time slot peaked out because I wasn't trying to compete head to head. I was trying to give the fans the opportunity to watch their wrestling. I'm coining a phrase; watch your wrestling. WYW, watch your wrestling. I feel like fans should be able to watch whatever they want, and I love that AEW has become the choice for so many fans. We had six straight weeks where AEW Dynamite had been the number one show on cable on Wednesdays. And now with Dynamite being moved to the weekend, it's a great opportunity to do Friday Night Rampage and Saturday Night Dynamite and give a weekend to the fans. It's cool, because it's a party. So I think it's a great chance for us to go down to Miami and embrace the fans. We've got huge cards Friday and Saturday.

"If someone wants to compete and come head to head with me, I'll say it straight up that I plan to put on a better show. The odds may be against us, but I don't care. I believe the wrestling fans have rallied around AEW every time. We've had great cards, great moments and the fans have stepped up, whether it was the first PPV where we hadn't done a show and we sold over 100,000 PPV's worldwide. Or all through the pandemic, the great support of the fans watching Dynamite every week and buying the PPV's. Every PPV we've ever done has gone up year over year, which shows you the movement is growing and growing. And I really believe as we head into Full Gear on November 13, the support we're going to get this weekend is going to really back the company in an important time. Now's the time. We signed CM Punk, we signed Bryan Danielson, we signed Adam Cole, we signed Ruby Soho. We already have the top stars and we could go on for hours on how great the young wrestlers are in AEW, how bright the future is."

One big motivating factor for Khan with AEW is trying to not make the same mistakes WCW made competing against WWE in the 90's. While he credits what WCW was able to accomplish, he wishes they had pushed the younger talent they had then, much like AEW is doing so now.

"I'm trying not to make the same mistakes WCW made head to head," Khan said. 'They were a great company. But they let the young stars go. Can you imagine, instead of back then, Chris Jericho and Eddie Guerrero, these guys walked. As opposed to our young stars, MJF, Britt Baker, Darby Allin, Sammy Guevara, Jungle Boy, wrestlers that are committed to AEW for years to come. We're invested in them and the fans are invested in them. They (WCW) got to the great heights and I'd be remised if I don't sit here and give them tons of credit. The 83 weeks, to do that, its unprecedented and to get where they got is so great. It's only with the benefit of the hindsight that I sit here and say this, but it's also the same stuff I was saying then as a kid.

"And many of the wrestling fans on the internet, which is basically what Twitter and social media and many ways are, the offspring of those early message boards and chat rooms that we were in as kids. In the late 90's, weren't we saying, at the peak of wrestling 'WCW, if you want to build a future, maybe you're not going to come back when RAW got really hot. Maybe you're going to come back and have Nitro be really hot again, but you could've built for the future around Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio and the other great young stars they had.' They still could've had these great young stars of the past and present. And they had Sting and all these great stars. If you think Sting couldn't do it then, let me tell you know, Sting right now in AEW is still doing it on a regular basis for us."

Another thing Khan is trying to do is make AEW a product that produces new ideas and exciting wrestling. He believes that has helped AEW's business grow substantially during this year.

"We try to present fun, exciting, new wrestling and come up with new ideas," Khan said. "You see some shows doing the same stuff over and over, and I try to give good shows to the fans. And I think we built this audience coming from nowhere, when you have no reputation coming into the wrestling world and build the wrestling audience we have from day one. But now we're setting new records for live attendance, PPV's and also a new record. We had never been the number one show on cable till April 14 of this year. And we did the show for over a year and a half and we had been everything in the top ten, but one was the one thing we had never done.

"We had done everything, two to ten. It was great to be number one, and now since then, we've done it a lot of times. We had six straight weeks when Dynamite was the number one show on all of cable TV, satellite TV on Wednesday. Not just wrestling, everything. And that took a lot of wrestling fans, it took a lot of support. All the fans of AEW have been a huge part of what we've built. Having such a young, cool audience and putting a show on, it's a big deal. I've seen the growth, especially now when you walk around, it's cool. I was back in Illinois, at a game, and my dad and I went to the game. And walking around and having people all over the campus of Illinois, which is a great school. There's a lot of young people there who I think have a lot in common with young people all over the company. And to see so many fans have so many people come up to talk to you."

Khan also put over Adam Cole, one of AEW's newest signees, and said he had the potential to be wrestling's next breakthrough star. He listed several other potential candidates from the AEW roster, and also put over the work of Sting, who has impressed Khan heavily since joining AEW in December of last year.

"I think Adam Cole's got as much potential and has much as a chance to be the breakthrough, number one star as anyone in all of wrestling right now," Khan said. "We talk about Hangman Page, who has that same potential. MJF, Darby Allin, Sammy Guevara, the TNT Champion, so many people. Those people are wrestling this weekend, a lot of them. I can't stress enough that we have this great, young roster and a great, young fanbase. It's a great time for anybody of any age to get into AEW we also have Sting, who's literally the last man standing of that generation. Of the legendary generation of great wrestlers, the one still going and having great matches on a regular basis is Sting."

You can watch the full interview below. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Barstool Rasslin' with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.