Tony Khan Says “There’s No Bigger Star” In Pro Wrestling Than CM Punk Ahead Of AEW Rampage

AEW President Tony Khan made his weekly pilgrimage to Busted Open Radio this morning to promote this weekend's episodes of AEW Rampage and AEW Dynamite. Khan discussed Dynamite moving out of its usual Wednesday slot for this weekend, trying to make the best of it and why he's using a YouTube Buy In show to lead into Rampage.

"I'm a big lemonade of out lemons guy," Khan said. "Ideally Dynamite would be on Wednesday, and we'll be back on Wednesday in two weeks. I can't wait. We've been on this incredible run of Dynamites recently, where we had been number one on cable for six straight weeks on Wednesday. The numbers have been great lately and in some ways it's a bad time to leave. But we'll be back in a couple of weeks, and I was trying to figure out ways to make the best of it. And to me, the best way to make the best of the situation was to make this the biggest weekend for wrestling fans on free TV in a long time. It's been a long time since we've done anything quite like this.

"I feel like it's kind of going back to our DIY roots. Before we ever had TV, the Buy In was something we put before all our shows, because everything we were doing was PPV or streaming before two years ago. The Buy In typically is something we use to get people hooked in for a big weekend of wrestling. And this is really the first time we've ever done three hours of TV, one hour tonight at 10 p.m. on TNT, and then another two hours live tomorrow also. It's the first time we've done three hours of weekend TV, similar to a PPV. We put on a Buy In and load it up, and give the fans a great weekend. And this time, you don't have to plop down your money. We're going to give it t you for free."

For Khan, tonight's Rampage and its Buy In is all an attempt to make AEW as big as possible as they face competition from an extended edition of WWE Friday Night Smackdown. He also talked up CM Punk and his Rampage match with Matt Sydal, which will air with no commercial interruption.

"In some ways it does feel good," Khan said. "For the fans, we'll try to make the best of it. I generally have always said I always wanted the fans to watch all the wrestling they wanted to watch. But tonight, that's apparently going to be an impossibility. So we're going to blow it out and make our show the best we can. I'm really excited about it. For the hardcore fans, there's really something special tonight. Even if you're not a hardcore fan, I think you're really going to enjoy the show. To a lot of the really deep hardcore fans, it's going to speak to their roots tonight what they see. But even if you're a new wrestling fan, you're going to love it, because some of the stars in the sport are going to be competing in AEW tonight. There's no bigger star in all of pro wrestling right now than CM Punk. And I'm really excited about his match with Matt Sydal tonight."

The Buy In will feature recent AEW signees Lee Moriarty and Bobby Fish in singles action, Tay Conti vs. former NXT star Santana Garrett and a singles match between Bryan Danielson and New Japan star Minoru Suzuki. Khan talked about the thought process behind booking these matches, especially a dream match like Danielson vs. Suzuki.

"Well it's a dream," Khan said. "It's a different situation being in this kind of competition. I think we have really hardcore fans that love our show. And we've never had anything like this. Like I was saying, Friday Night Rampage is one hour, and now with Dynamite being on the weekend, it's three hours of live wrestling on the weekend. I'm trying to get the fans excited and I want to make it feel like an event. Even if people are out and about, people nowadays, you can watch things anywhere. You can watch AEW on your phone, the TNT App, YouTube TV, Sling, Hulu. And that's how so many people watch TV now. So if you're out and about tonight, there's a lot of good reasons to throw AEW on your phone, even if you're not at home. Or if you're watching on a second screen.

"Our fans have always been there for us. We started from the ground up with nothing, and built this from scratch with the support of the wrestling fans. And the wrestling fans have been there for us every time. There's been time after time where I've questioned myself, and I have to say that sometimes I feel like a wrestling George Bailey. Because time after time, the fans show up and really validate everything we're doing. And it makes me so happy. We've done now well over a hundred episodes of Dynamite, and we're going on ten episodes of Rampage now. And this weekend feels like one of the biggest weekends we've ever had. To be able to do Dynamite Saturday, tomorrow, and lead it off with a live Friday Rampage and so many stars on the card. Plus there's a lot for Dynamite tomorrow that I haven't announced yet, as I'm really trying to keep tonight in focus on TNT. But there'll be more to come for the Saturday Dynamite as well. There's just a lot on tap. For the fans, it's a great weekend to be a wrestling fan I think."

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