AEW President Tony Khan joined SiriusXM’s Busted Open Radio to discuss all things All Elite Wrestling. Khan was asked about whether the wrestlers on his roster had exceeded his initial expectations. He noted that one particular performer had gone beyond that, and has become a draw for the company.

“A lot of people were critical of him [Orange Cassidy]. Some of the smartest people in the wrestling business were really critical and still are to some extent of him,” Tony Khan said. “Orange Cassidy, who is the big face of the Revolution Ladder Match this weekend and has been just — it’s just a fact, whether people like it or not, he’s been one of the biggest ratings draws in our company. And in terms of selling merchandise, like online engagement for streaming and hits, he is one of the most important people.

“I don’t think anybody expected that going in and I didn’t expect that going in, but I could see he was getting over and one of the things I think I’m strong at is course-correcting because I’m not always right, and I do try and stay engaged with the fans and pay attention to what moves the needle with them.”

Tony Khan also noted that he and legendary commentator Jim Ross did not see eye-to-eye initially on Orange Cassidy‘s gimmick because the Oklahoma-native believed the character was stupid.

“We were in the production meeting the first year and JR, not under his breath, said something about how stupid the whole thing was in the first year and in front of everyone because Jim called me out in front of the entire room,” Tony Khan explained. “So I said back to him, ‘Jim, this is getting over and it’s doing ratings every time and we’ve barely scratched the surface on what the guy can do, and he’s actually a really good wrestler and I think you should give him a chance and talk to him because he actually is a very intelligent wrestling person once you get to know him, and we have barely scratched the surface on what this guy can do, trust me.’

“A lot of people might not like it, but frankly, he has become one of our big stars, and that is probably the best example of somebody what I thought they could do coming in because really I thought he was gonna be like a manager mostly coming in. Once I realized how gifted he actually is, I had no idea Orange Cassidy was Fire Ant when I first met him. When I realized that was the same guy and he is a great pro wrestler, then that’s when I came up with the idea to — let’s hide that for 6 to 8 months and not show anyone all the stuff you can do until the first Revolution, and that’s when you make your debut in your first real match, and that’s when you show people you can really wrestle.”

If you use any quotes from this article, please credit SiriusXM’s Busted Open Radio with an h/t to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.

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