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AEW held a media scrum today ahead of tomorrow’s Winter is Coming special edition of Dynamite with AEW President and CEO Tony Khan. The following are the highlights beginning with questions from PWTorch columnist Sean Radican:
(1) Sean Radican: Talk about the quick turnaround from Full Gear to the Winter Is Coming special. You’ve built up Moxley defending the AEW World Championship vs. Kenny Omega really well in just a short amount of time. They’ve got history dating back to Moxley’s debut at Double or Nothing a couple of years ago that built to their unsanctioned match.
This time there’s a twist and it seems like both guys want a wrestling match, but it’s personal. We don’t know who attacked Moxley and Omega has been condescending in promos. Can you talk about transitioning Omega from the tag division back into a prominent singles star with some of the promo characteristics that people have been looking for as well as the passion Moxley brought out in his promo on Dynamite last week when he said “I love this shit.
Tony Khan: Tony said the build has been there since Double or Nothing 2019. He said they wrestled in an unsanctioned match that didn’t even count in their records. He said both guys have had amazing runs since then. Khan said Kenny has been involved so much on Dynamite and he’s one of the winningest wrestlers in AEW. Omega has been everything AEW has ever done along with Khan and they are the only two you that can say that.
Tony said nothing has been different for Kenny since his tag team stuff has been in prominent positions. Mentions wrestling against PAC in the Iron Man match and the Eliminator tournament. He said Kenny winning and John beating Eddie Kingston after the last PPV, you couldn’t ask for two guys that have so much history.
Khan said it’s brought a lot of fire out of both guys and it’s special. Khan said it will be a hot match and the rest of the year will be really hot. Khan talks about Moxley’s intensity. He said John is the best champion in wrestling and this is his biggest match to date. He said the media being at this conference call shows how big the show is tomorrow.
(2) Sean Radican: Talk about formatting the show and building to so many things so quickly last week. Are you cognizant of keeping people tuned in and moving from segment to segment.
Tony Khan: Khan said he can play around when shows are tape. He mentioned that last weeks show was tape and it went to plan really well. Khan said early it was throwing things against the wall. He said he did things last year that he would smack himself in the head for. He said he learned and tried to make the show exciting.
Tony said the show is great because it appeals to everyone. One thing he likes about Dynamite he likes is that he talks to people and they like different things on the show. People don’t just mention the same thing. Tony said when they’re live and there’s a long match, sometimes things have to change on the fly. Khan said it depends on how many stars you have and how many angles you have. He said you can’t cover everything with matches, so you have to find other ways to fit everything into the show.
Khan said people asked him to put things on the format last year that he shouldn’t have said yes to. He said he’s done a better job editing and putting it together. Khan said he’s learned from experience what ideas are going to work and which ones should be edited. Tony said trying to fit as much good stuff in one show is challenging.
Tony said tomorrow’s show is going to be challenging to format and you’re going to want to ask questions about the formatting after the show tomorrow. Khan said there will be a lot of great wrestling on the show tomorrow.
-Tony is asked if Winter is Coming an alternative to doing multiple PPVs. Tony said they have multiple specials coming including more this month and Beach Break in January.
-Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer asks Tony if he can reveal what spot the Omega vs. Moxley match will be. Khan says it will be the main event. Tony says the show will be more like a PPV card and talks about the big matches on the card. He said if the main event were to go long, TNT will stay with it as long as it takes. Khan said if they don’t get to the match with 60 minutes left in the show, the match will take place
-Anything new with Brodie Lee? Khan says he cant comment on Lee not being there, but they are excited to have him soon.
-Dave said it seems like AEW signs 1-2 people new people. Asks how many people can Tony add without subtracting. Khan said he could have made cuts, but hasn’t done it because of the pandemic. He said it’s hard to get work in the wrestling business and it’s hard to use everyone, but at the same time they do need to keep using people and bring them in.
Khan says he’s thinking of splitting dark into two shows where one is more developmental and another is established talent. “I believe in the people we are adding,” said Khan. Khan referenced WIll Hobbs working through Dark. Tony said its worth singing people because they could turn out to be stars. Khan talks about Top Flight impressing on Dark and then on Dynamite. Also mentioned The Acclaimed. Khan said he had an idea for a team called The Acclaimed and those guys were perfect for it.
-Tony is asked to expand why he is doing Moxley vs. Omega this week instead of the next PPV. Khan said the timing of the PPVs is by design. He said he wants to put big matches on Dynamite because it is their core product and it is their main revenue stream. He wants people to feel on Wednesday night that they’re going to see awesome matches.
Khan said he’s not a sucker, but he got into wrestling because he saw the revenue stream potential for TV contracts. Khan said they’ve signed 2 $175 million dollar four year contract. Khan said the business plan was to get that contract and build to huge shows. Khan said this is the biggest match they’ve had on Dynamite. He said Kenny is the biggest star Moxley has defended against to date.
Khan mentions all the matches Moxley has had with talent in AEW and talks about how Omega is a big star and his biggest opponent to date. Khan said when the TV contracts in wrestling became so large, he thought the biggest matches should be on TV and he talks about specials like Fight for The Fallen and Fyter Fest becoming tradition.
Khan said when he does big cards for $50, he wants the biggest collection of matches he can give people to give them their money’s worth. Khan said he will keep putting big matches on Dynamite.
-Tony is asked if being in wrestling has been more difficult or less difficult than he expected. Khan said he’s learned a lot on the job. He said some things have been easier and some have been harder. Tony said he hasn’t had to let a ton of people go yet and talks about the human side of things. He mentioned again it not being the right time to contract the roster. He said that will be hard. Khan mentions his experience as a GM in the Premier League has helped him with roster management.
–Tony is asked about how the Elite was positioned on TV for the first year. He’s asked if there’s been an overcorrection. Tony said he doesn’t think so because they’ve all been prominently positioned even though other wrestlers have been pushed.
-Tony is asked about Mike Tyson and Shaq. He is asked if his goal is to bring mainstream respect to wrestling given his status as an executive in the NFL and the Premier League. Tony credits his dad and dumb luck. He said he’s meant some powerful friends thanks to his dad, but some of it comes to dumb luck. He mentions he met his partner on a flight and it was a random happening. He said he introduced him to Kevin Riley, who opened the doors at TBS and eventually TNT.
Tony said bringing wrestling back to TNT. Tony said he says a lot of great wrestling has been on TNT and he hopes the show tomorrow is remembered as one of the best wrestling shows on TNT and one of the best episodes on Dynamite. Khan said wrestling has been affected during the pandemic in terms of the presentation. Khan said there will be 1,000 people in the stands in an open air venue where they will be spaced out in pods. They enforce mask wearing and Khan says they haven’t had any issues with it. “I’m glad it’s working well and there’s going to be a real crowd for this.” Tony says a lot of the great wrestling shows you’ve seen in wrestling have had crowds of 1,000 or less.
-Tony is asked if Moxley is going to work at Wrestle Kingdom. Khan says no. Tony is asked if there’s been talk of introducing a trios championship. He said if it happens, it will be in 2021. He says he wants to get through 2020 and into Beach Break and moving towards Revolution, but it is something he’s been thinking about.
-Tony is asked why Winter is Coming was used. Khan said he wants to build a brand around an episode of Dynamite like FIghter Fest and Fight for the Fallen. Khan said Winter is coming is a huge expression. Khan said he’s never watched Game of Thrones. He said his mother watches Game of Thrones and is a huge fan. He knows it’s a huge name. Khan said it’s hard to get into new shows because he’s always so busy and he sticks to South Park and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Tony said it is Warner Media’s trademark and they gave him permission to use it. He also said it fits because it is now winter.
Tony said more is ahead including a big Christmas and New Years show plus beach break.
-Tony is asked if he’s had talks about airing Dynamite live on ITV in the UK. He said they have a great partnership and he’s like to increase their live viewing. Khan said AEW plus has been great for them and the AEW plus version of Dynamite is the best version of the show. Tony said if he was a tape trader, he would want the international version of Dynamite on AEW plus. Tony said it is a great product and it’s very affordable at $5 per month.
Tony said before he signed his TV deal he committed millions of dollars to a roster without any American TV revenue, but he knew he would get it and he had a relationship with TNT. He said he knew he could sign big stars and have a big brand. Khan mentions that ITV was his first TV deal.
-Khan is asked about people being excited about bringing back elements of his cleaner persona. Khan is asked if Omega wanted to bring that back or was it Khan’s ideas. Khan said Kenny wanted it, but they worked together to start introducing elements of the character.
Khan said he works with everyone on the card. He mentions Ricky Starks asking if he could dress like Darby Allin and it became a reality.
-Khan said they are making a new character out of Miro. He said he doesn’t know what he was supposed to be before. He said there’s a person in him that is him and not anything they made up in AEW. Khan said he wants people to get to know him better. He references the Miro and Trent video with Excalibur. Khan said he was beaten down so bad in WWE that they’re building him back up.
Khan said the guy he signed had been abused for years. He said he will be a huge star in wrestling and he wasn’t treated like it for a long time. He said it’s a marathon and not a sprint.
-Khan is asked about some heat on Twitter. Khan asks if he got heat or got buzz. He said he got buzz after he said the balance power is shifting and said they did some of their best ratings to date. Khan said he’s 100% right in what he said. He said people will see tomorrow that he’s right and they will see Thursday when the numbers come in that he’s right. Tony says Winter Is Coming in wrestling. Tony said it’s shifting in storyline and to the fans. Tony said fans are getting to see more than they’ve ever seen before. Khan said he’s willing to work with other companies and that’s why he said the balance of power is shifting. Khan said there’s a difference between heat and buzz. He said it was a good kind of heat if it was heat.
Khan is asked about negative feedback on social media. He said he feels really good about it because they’ve delivered in the ratings and audience numbers. “I can’t open my mouth without upsetting some fans.” Tony said he expects a really big number for Dynamite this week. “I am aiming for the top. I have great ambition here.”
Khan said PAC is a huge star and his return is the first of many exciting moments that will happen on Dynamite.