Tony Khan on being inspired by McMahon’s business approach in the 80s
Tony Khan on getting inspiration from Vince McMahon’s business approach in the 80s:
“He does care. I’ve read a lot of books about Vince. I’ve never met Vince. There was a time when he was building his company in the ’80s – I’ve tried to undertake a similar amount of work, in terms of shouldering a ton of responsibility and taking a ton of one-on one-meetings. You hear about Vince going to convince Hulk Hogan, going to convince individual people to come in and work for the WWF, convincing a sponsor to come on. Vince was taking all these meetings and all this responsibility, and he was a similar age to me, and I think I’m inspired by that. I’m trying to do it a very different way, and I’m not trying to run all the other wrestling companies out of business. I’m not trying to take out every regional wrestling company and eat their lunch and put them out of business. I don’t think that makes sense. He took a very different approach, and it worked for him really well, but he was all over the place taking tons of meetings, and he made lots of deals. And I’ve tried to do that over the past three years.
“The amount of people I’ve gone out and convinced to join AEW, signed, built relationships with that I now have under the umbrella of this company and so I tried to take a lot of inspiration from what Vince did in the ’80s building the wrestling empire and expanding it because I think that’s probably the last time anybody expanded as much as we have, and I put an asterisk on that because WCW under Eric [Bischoff] did expand a lot from a money-losing business into a business grossing hundreds of millions of dollars, but it’s still a little bit different than us where we weren’t a business at all and came from scratch. But I have to give Eric and WCW a ton of credit too. Basically, for me, I have a ton of respect for the way that company was built, and that’s why I don’t want to go out of my way to trash it.”
On when he thinks WWE was at its best:
“I am not him. I try to wear some of the similar hats, especially that he wore when he was younger. I will say this, and I don’t know what good it does me or what purpose it serves me, but I’ll just say it as a fan of wrestling and somebody who loves wrestling, I always thought their shows were better when Vince wrote the shows in the backyard with his friends vs. when they hired 25 writers to write shows. But that’s neither here nor there. I really enjoy putting the shows together, and through the pandemic, that was one of the things that I was able to actually get more organized on.”