Tony Khan Levies Criticism at WWE over use of Miro
Tony Khan hosted a press conference call on Tuesday promoting this week’s “Winter is Coming” episode of AEW Dynamite and discussed WWE’s treatment of Miro, their plans for the show, Jon Moxley not working Wrestle Kingdom 15 and more. You can check out a recap of the call below:
* Asked about future special episodes of Dynamite, Khan said that it is something they’ll be doing so as not to over saturate the PPV market. He said Winter is Coming is their biggest yet and brings a PPV feel to Dynamite. He says it’s a challenge formatting it but he enjoys doing it.
* Asked where the Moxley vs. Omega match will take place, Khan said it will be the main event and will have a 60 minute time limit. He said the show will be structured more like a PPV around the matches and that TNT will let them run past 10 PM ET if they need to in order to ensure that the full match will be able to air. He put over the various matches and said that there are some “big stuff planned” for the episode.
* Asked about if there’s anything new planned for Brodie Lee as he’s been off TV, Khan said he can’t comment Lee’s been off camera but he does hope that he’s back soon.
* Khan was asked about AEW’s new signings and how many they can continue adding without hardly ever releasing talent. He said that they’re still in the pandemic and he could have made some, but hasn’t because of the pandemic. He noted that he feels strongly that it’s tough to get work in the business and he doesn’t want to let people go. He acknowledged that they do have a big roster and put over Dark as a way to put the show over. He said he’s seriously considering splitting Dark into two shows, one which is for developmental and one for more established talent, or a mix of the two. He noted that he believes in all the people they’ve added and pointed out how Will Hobbs is a guy who started on Dark and has risen to a big match on this week’s show. He talked a bit about building the Hobbs vs. Allin match as a David vs. Goliath type situation and said that working with talent on Dark gives people a chance to become featured stars in the company. He put over The Acclaimed as a team who have a ton of potential, and said it’s more important to add people than to cut people even though he notes it is important to have to let some talent go in any other situation.
* Asked about why Moxley vs. Omega is taking place this week as opposed to the PPV, Khan said that it’s more than about the timing of the next PPV. He said the duration between is important to establish that Dynamite is the core product. It’s the flagship revenue stream and he wants people to see that Dynamite is the company’s lifeblood. He talks about how the revenue model changed to the television revenue being the main source of income, and said that this is the biggest match they’ve had on Dynamite. Moxley has defended the title against a bunch of people and is the flagship star of AEW, and he wanted to build this episode as the something for people to look forward to. Khan said that they’ll continue putting some of the biggest matches on Dynamite and that he wants people to feel like a spot on Dynamite is as big as a PPV spot even if the PPV cards are major shows.
* Asked about whether being involved in wrestling has been more or less difficult than he thought it would, Khan said that it’s a mix of the two and doing it for a while, people can criticize but there probably aren’t a whole lot of people with his level of experience writing a wrestling show or dealing with a network on behalf of a wrestling show. He says he’s learned a lot and on a human side there’s a lot that’s hard. He pointed out how he hasn’t let a lot of people go yet, but that it’s always hard in any business and being the GM of a Premiere League team and working in the NFL, he’s had to deal with that. It’s never fun.
* Asked if there was an over correction in how the Elite was featured on TV, he says he doesn’t think so. He doesn’t know that they had to get beaten up as much as they did, but he thinks it was the right way to do it. He adds that this was the year for the guys to be booked stronger and expects the Bucks to have a great run as tag champions and says the effort was to showcase a bunch of other talent.
* Asked about the history between Omega and Moxley and how the feud has gotten really personal, and how Omega has been transitioned into his new position, Khan said that the build has been there the whole time, pointing out their match at Full Gear. He noted that the one time they wrestled was in an unsanctioned match that didn’t count in the storylines. So there’s a lot of tension and they’re both on great runs, while Omega has transitioned to this new role and is one of the most winning wrestlers this year. He noted that other than himself, Omega is the only guy to be at every Dynamite ever, and has been involved both behind the scenes and on the show. The only real difference is that he was working as a tag team and is now working singles. The Eliminator tournament was part of the build while Moxley was facing Eddie Kingston. He says it’s brought a great fire out of both guys and calls it AEW’s biggest match all year.
* Asked about building the pacing of Dynamite like last week’s, Khan says a lot of thought goes into it and he has a little more flexibility with taped shows which last week was, but it went pretty well to plan. He’s learned a lot from last year and he sometimes looks at the old stuff and questions what he was thinking. In terms of formatting, he tries to keep some consistency but change things up. You can’t cover every story in AEW with just Dynamite’s matches, and he’s always looking at ways to do it better. He said tomorrow’s is one of the most challenging he’s ever had to put together.
* Asked about celebrities like Mike Tyson and Shaq and whether he’s looking to give pro wrestling better mainstream respect, he says people wanted to bring more wrestling to major television for years and they’ve provided an alternative. He noted that their numbers have TNT very happy, and that this is all possible because of his experience with Premiere League and the NFL, which his father put him in the position to work in. He got the connections due to those jobs, but he also pointed out that some of it is dumb luck. He talks about how he got introduced to Kevin Reilly and that led into TNT, which they’ve been able to expand. He hopes people remember tomorrow’s show as one of the best wrestling shows on TNT, and talked about bring in fans for the shows and how they’ve been able to do it safely. He noted that there will be 1,000 fans in attendance.
* Asked if Jon Moxley will work Wrestle Kingdom 15, he succinctly said “No.” And asked if the company is considering Trios Championships, he said that it’s on the agenda but won’t be in 2020. If it happens, it will most likely happen in 2021. It’s something he’s been talking about and thinking about for a long time.
* Asked about the “Winter is Coming” name, Khan noted that he wanted to build a special episode of Dynamite and have a big event, and the name was perfect because it’s an epicn meaning. He admitted that he’s never seen Game of Thrones, but knows the name and his mother is obsessed with the show. They were able to use the name due to TNT and WarnerMedia (which HBO is a part of). He noted that the theme fit and that they have big shows planned for Christmas and New Year’s as well.
* Asked about UK viewership and if there are any talks with ITV to expand it, he said that they haven’t talked about it but they plan to increase that viewership. He put over AEW Plus and said it’s the most complete version of the show. He said the ITV deal was the first they signed and it’s very near and dear to his heart, and that he had the connections and relationships there to get the deal made. He’s not sure about more showtimes there though.
* Asked about Kenny Omega’s Cleaner gimmick, he says that he talked with Kenny about it but it was something Omega really wanted to do. He put over working with Omega and said that a lot of it is talent coming up with ideas, while Khan adds his input. He mentioned the Young Bucks, Cody and Omega coming up with ideas for talent and said that Britt Baker’s Waiting Room was Cody’ idea. Omega wanted to do the Cleaner and wanted to do the tournament, and he loved the idea.
* Asked about Miro’s arrival, Khan said Miro’s going to be a big star there and it’s difficult for people to come in and become a big star right away because of their rankings. He couldn’t just throw Miro in the main event; he had to build him up. He says there’s a lot at the top of the card and Miro will be a huge part, but he had to get involved in stories and matches first. Khan says that they’re re-contextualizing Miro and that he didn’t know what Miro was supposed to be before he came to AEW, and the Miro we’re seeing now is the Miro he knows. He added that they had to rebuild Miro because he got beaten up badly in WWE, noting that while Miro is the guy who “drove a tank at WrestleMania,” he then got “treated like s**t for years.” He said he’s going to be a huge name, but he wasn’t treated like such for years. He compared it to Kenny Omega who had to work his way into top contendership and that while Eddie Kingston was the exception to that kind of build, he had an out because Moxley had beaten the top 5 and Moxley wanted the match with Kingston in storyline.
* Asked about his controversial tweet on Twitter, Khan noted “did I get heat, or did I get buzz?” He said that they got their biggest rating of the pandemic the week after he promised the balance of power was shifting. He is adamant that he was right about the balance of power is shifting, and that people will see he was right when the numbers come in for this week. He says that the balance of power is shifting not only in storylines, but in reality to the fans. Wrestling is becoming more about the fans, he’s willing to work with companies and there will be more and more changes. He says he can’t open his mouth without upsetting some fans, so he just focuses on the fans he can please.