INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS: Tony Khan discusses working with NJPW to build Forbidden Door, injuries to the roster, wellness policy (w/Radican question)

By Sean Radican, PWTorch columnist (Twitter: @SR_Torch)

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PHOTO CREDIT: AEW

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The following are interview highlights from AEW CEO and booker Tony Khan’s media call ahead of the AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door PPV:

-In his opening comments, Tony says he will discuss the injuries to the roster as much as he can. He also talks about seeing wrestlers in NJPW in WCW and now he hopes a new generation of fans get introduced to NJPW wrestlers from the collaboration with AEW.

Sean Radican question: Jon Moxley recently talked to ESPN about going to rehab for his drinking and Jeff Hardy was recently arrested for DUI and you released a statement about his punishment. . Have you thought about instituting a wellness policy in AEW given some of the recent occurences with wrestlers like Jeff Hardy and Moxley or do you already have one in place where wrestlers can get help if they need it.

Tony Khan answer: Tony said most people do drink responsibly and they do have a wellness policy. Tony said they can’t test for alcohol after a show. He said the Hardy situation and the Moxley situation are totally different things. Tony said they are there to support wrestlers like Jon. He said he was supportive of Jon and what he did in terms of going to rehab.

Tony said the way Jeff’s situation went down was totally different. Tony was about to go to the next question, but he came back and said Jeff Hardy is doing much better and as he understands Jeff is in treatment right now. Tony said Jeff is now doing the right thing. Tony said Jon’s situation was totally different from Jeff’s and he doesn’t like to compare the two.

-Tony talks about how they’re coming off a strong Double or Nothing PPV. He set after that he got the schedule from NJPW and he couldn’t use all of the wrestlers he wanted to and he had to work with the wrestlers how he could. Some wrestlers were available earlier than others as you saw with how they appeared on TV.

-Tony said he pulled hard to bring in Ospreay ahead of Dominion instead of after. He said he knew he would have Jay White two weeks out and Okada a week out. He said he was really excited with what he had to work with. Tony said he ran his ideas for the show by Sonjay Dutt, Pat Buck, and C.M. Punk at his house and they loved them.

Tony mentions Punk would have been tied to Tanhashi’s matches on TV and Moxley would have been more involved in stuff geared towards Blood and Guts. Tony mentions that Moxley has been chasing this match for years.

Tony also talked about losing Bryan Danielson and how he had hoped to build up his match against Zack Sabre Jr. He said he wasn’t going to take any chances with Bryan, so he shut him down. Tony said it worked out because rarely do you have a mystery opponent where you could build up a great moment when fans see who the opponent is.

Tony mentions that Kyle O’Reilly and Tomohiro Ishii’s injuries also changed the card. Tony mentions he’s excited for Eddie Kingston and Chris Jericho to have a confrontation tonight on Rampage ahead of Blood and Guts.

-Tony is asked about a potential Forbidden Door 2 event. Tony says they’ve already discussed a Forbidden Door 2. He said they’ve done over a 1 million dollar gate and more seats are being opened. Tony says there’s so many stars between both companies and talks about how it is hard to pack them all in one night. Tony said the depth is there and that’s why there are so many big names signed to AEW. Tony said he feels good right now compared to when he talked to Bryan Danielson last weekend about making a change to the show. Tony said hopefully they will do many Forbidden Doors in the future.

-Tony is asked why he went from three matches at the Buy in to One at Double or Nothing. Tony says he’s planning to announce more Buy In matches on Rampage tonight, so there will be more than one Buy In match.

-Tony is asked about bringing AEW to Canada. Tony says he has lots of wrestlers on the roster from different parts of Canada. Tony talks about how Calgary and Edminton would be great potential homes to AEW in Canada. Tony talks about the Owen Hart Tournament and his respect for Dr. Martha Hart. He also mentions Bret Hart’s prior appearance in AEW and his respect for Bret. Tony talks about Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega’s history in Alberta as well.

-Tony said it was an honor to have Kazuchika Okada on AEW Dynamite. He said he was making his debut in a AEW ring. Tony talks about Okada having a chance to win the IWGP World Hvt. Championship from Jay White. Tony mentions Adam Cole and Hangman Page also have a shot to win the title. Tony said Okada showed up later than he originally hoped, but he came at the right time with Danielson announcing that he was off the show.

Tony said Okada mentioned to him that he’s a Manchester City fan. He also mentions that he hopes this show isn’t remembered for the injuries given how they’ve managed the replacements.

-Tony is asked if the preparation going into this event is different than any other PPV. He was also asked if he considered a global press conference. Tony said he’s excited to talk to all the people from around the world right now on this call.

Tony said planning the show and the amount of work that has gone into the event has been a lot, but he’s had a lot of respect for Gedo and Rocky Romero has been a good intermediary. Tony said he’s worked with NJPW for over a year now. Tony said it has been a lot of fun and it has been a great partnership, but it has had its challenges. He said doing stuff with AAA and NJPW in the past was one thing, but it was much more challenging building a whole card. He said NJPW has seen the importance of getting talent on TV now after building this show. Tony also mentioned another challenge was that AAA and NJPW don’t work together.

-Tony is asked if there is any part of Forbidden Door being a month after Double or Nothing being a test for AEW to go to more PPVs. Tony said he doesn’t see it as that. It just turned out to be about NJPW having the ability to put on a show together. Tony mentions how great it was to have Tanahashi on TV. He also mentions that Ospreay has had three great matches on TV. Tony mentions that going forward he will also be booking ROH PPVs. Tony mentions the year over year growth for AEW. He said it will be a big challenge to do that for All Out. Tony said this was one of the top things that fans wanted in terms of a big announcement from AEW before the event was announced. Tony said now the event is happening in just 48 hours.

-Tony said they’ve used the unification championship in the past and other sports have used it when a champion can not fight right away such as in boxing and UFC. He said it’s a great chance to set up a match between the winner of Moxley vs. Tanahashi to go on to face Punk.

-Tony is asked about being big on stats and how this PPV is tracking. Tony said they aren’t there yet, as the information comes within 48 hours before the show. Tony says there hasn’t been a collaboration between promotions on this stage in big sellout areas. Tony said right now it’s tracking like a typical AEW PPV, but as they get closer, the true test will come.

-Tony is asked about specifics about how the wellness policy works. Tony said they are serious about helping talent. He said hopefully talent comes to them and they don’t get in trouble. Tony said if anyone needs time off or has an issue they can take it. Tony said there are testing policies, but hopefully they come to them before they get in trouble.

-Tony is asked about doing more PPVs. Tony said doing more events would bring more revenue, but it’s not imminent that they will be doing more events.

Contact Sean at pwtorchsean@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @SR_Torch

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