Tony Khan thinks AEW is thriving despite the departure of Cody Rhodes.

AEW President and CEO Tony Khan spoke with News 12 ahead of AEW’s return to Long Island for the 5/11 episode of AEW Dynamite. On the topic of the recent departure of former EVP and TNT Champion Cody Rhodes, Khan says while Cody was a important part of the start of the company, he believes the promotion is now ‘stronger than ever’.

“Cody was a great person from the start of AEW,” Khan admitted. “He’s a great wrestler and somebody I really like and respect very much and we’ll always wish him the best. The timing of it with a lot of big stars coming in around the same time, of course, CM Punk, Adam Cole, Bryan Danielson coming in and there was a period of time where some of the top stars like Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley were both out and now both have come back better than ever.

“Cody was a top star for us at the beginning and we’ve sustained, I think, and come out stronger than ever this year on TBS with Dynamite and in particular, pay-per-view, we just did one of our biggest pay-per-views ever with Revolution and set a record there. So, it was kind of a pay-per-view without him and we had done a pay-per-view not long ago without him and so we’ve, ya know, done All Out and Revolution, which are the two biggest shows we’ve ever done on pay-per-view and he wasn’t on those shows. So, I think we’ve sustained with big stars coming in, ya know, CM Punk among them and now the emergence of ‘Hangman’ Page is the top champion and big stars have come along in the meantime, it’s helped a lot. He’s [Cody Rhodes] a huge star now too, not just here in AEW, he’d been all over the world and it’s come full circle for him in a lot of ways and again, I wish him the best.”

While Cody Rhodes remains a massive star in the world of professional wrestling, Tony Khan calls Sting’s AEW debut in December 2020 as the most starstruck he’s ever been while working in the industry.

“Yeah, I mean I’m a huge wrestling fan and I think when we brought Sting back to pro wrestling, that was incredible and I never would have believed that a moment like The First Dance would be possible or CM Punk returning to the ring at All Out. It was so huge, that was huge for me and really when we started with the Chris Jericho and then when we launched AEW, didn’t even know Jon Moxley would become available and he debuted then on our first show, even though when we announced the company, it wasn’t really something we anticipated or could have anticipated.

“So, there’s been so many great moments, I think, it’s hard to beat Sting, he’s one of my childhood heroes and one of the greatest wrestlers ever, so that would be, I think, at the top of big moments for me. Sting, who I’d already met in life, his son played College Football at Kentucky and I met him through College Football and even through workouts and tryouts with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was a Tight End and they didn’t use the Tight End in the passing game as a catching player as much as he did blocking and was involved in the wrong game [laughs]. But he was a great athlete, he certainly had the great genetics of the Borden family of Stinger. Getting to know him, he’s such a class person, and then for him to say he wanted to return to the ring in AEW, he wasn’t happy with the last chapter of his career and wanted to have his career continue on his own terms and he’s come to AEW and been a huge presence for us. So, that was a great thing and like I said, The First Dance with CM Punk, launching with Jericho, Chris Jericho, who’s now better than ever, and Mox, Jon Moxley who’s also now back and better than ever. So many cool things.”

Wrestling Inc. will have complete coverage of AEW’s return to Long Island for AEW Dynamite, tonight, beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT.

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit News 12 with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.

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