Tony Khan Believes AEW Contracts Offer More Security vs. WWE
Tony Khan was a guest on Friday’s episode of Busted Open Radio and was asked about MJF’s recent comments about his contract being up in 2024 and starting a bidding war for his services as a free agent. Khan said that he knew what MJF was going to say, but then spoke in detail about the perception of signing with WWE as well as why AEW offers more security than any other promotion right now.
“Yes, I knew he was going to say that. He’s been saying that for a long time, I have no problem with that. I signed him to a five-year contract two years ago. It’s got three years left on it and I’m totally fine with it because frankly, there might be [other offers] in 2024. I’m fine with that. But anybody that signs a contract [with WWE] these days is not signing a real contract, in my opinion. It’s a temporary arrangement and people who come and wrestle with me, a lot of these people are lifers and they know that,” Khan stated.
“There are some people here that work really hard and there’s some people here who come in and work more than really hard. Some people come in and I feel like this is their actual life and they’ll be here with me for the rest of my life. I don’t know if everybody that works for my competition can say that,” Khan said. “I think there are people that work there and aren’t even sure if they’re going to be there next week. So I just think there’s a lot more security with a contract here.”
Tony Khan went on to explain that the entire situation with mass layoffs at WWE is unfortunate so he doesn’t want to make light of it. One thing he can say with confidence, however, is that AEW hasn’t been laying people off and still managed to be a successful startup company.
“I can’t say I’m going to extend every contract or bring every person back, but I also through the last couple years have not been doing mass layoffs, even though I’m not the most profitable company of all time, I don’t brag about being the most profitable company of all time. I do brag about bringing in a lot of revenue for a startup and being a real success story, but what I will brag about is we haven’t been doing mass layoffs and we haven’t fired 15 people last week or 18 people the week before that, and it’s not anything to be proud of when a company lets all those people go.
And when you’re putting press releases out like that frequently, I don’t think it’s a good thing. To me, I don’t want to make light of that kind of thing ever, but when you talk about one particular wrestler in a bidding war, I think each individual person is their own case and in that case,” Khan noted, “[MJF] is a very special talent and there may be multiple people coming for his services.
“But we’ve seen the talent going in one direction, and I think that’s for a variety of reasons, but I’ve been very selective in the people that I’ve signed. Every time there’s been a mass layoff on the other side, whether it’s been 15, 18 or 20 people—and I don’t mean to make light of it because each time, every one of these people matters, the exact number does matter—but every time it happens, it’s terrible. I can’t say that I’d be able to take on every one of these people,” Khan said.
Khan said that he could take on a few of those people if it helps AEW grow, and they also might not re-sign talent in the future as well. He said that he takes pride in keeping people working through the pandemic and couldn’t consider cutting costs a win.
“I know that not everyone’s going to work here forever, but if somebody’s not going to work here, please know that I’m going to feel really, really bad about it. That’s one of the reasons why we haven’t let a lot of people go yet and I’ve been eating some of those costs,” he added, “especially through the pandemic when there was really nowhere else to get work in wrestling.”
Tony Khan closed by saying he expects AEW to be around for life, adding that he hopes to have kids one day and has family. Khan said he expects a lot of people to be here in AEW for life, not everyone, but anybody that leaves AEW is leaving that kind of atmosphere.
“I don’t know if the people on the other side have the same feeling of loyalty or family, but we’re a family. We’re a small company and Mark [Henry], you’re a part of that, so you can attest to it.”