Talk Is Jericho – The AEW Vision Of Tony Khan
Release Date: 02/13/19
Running time: 1:10
Recap by: Joe Aguinaldo
** Please note, TIJ recaps are usually done by Caitlin Lavelle however she is on hiatus. I asked her if I could do this recap and she was cool (plus I didn’t want to infringe on her gimmick).
On today’s podcast, Chris welcomes Tony Khan to the show to talk about AEW.
AEW has created a lot of buzz in a short amount of time.
Tony has been looking to open a wrestling company for a long time and he credits Cody, the Bucks and Jericho for helping to make it happen.
Economic factors and wrestling has become attractive for advertisers because they see the fan base is huge and it’s a diverse group. Plus the roster is great for the fans and there’s TV money to be had.
Tony says AEW gives an opportunity for the younger wrestlers to be on a show with someone with the tenure and star power of Jericho. It’s similar to WCW who did that for a number of wrestlers but in a more sustainable fashion.
Tony The Wrestling Fan
Tony has been s fan since he was 7 and became a tape trader very early. He built a number of contacts and built a good library. A friend of his gave him a tape with Jericho vs Ultimo from 1995 which is one of his favourite matches and led to Tony following Jericho’s career.
When Tony got into one of the top high schools in the country, his father offered him to get him anything he wanted and Tony wanted to go to an ECW convention where he got to see Jericho’s last two matches in the territory.
Tony was able to interact with guys like Brian Pillman, DDP and Marc Mero on AOL.
Tony’s father is from Pakistan and is one of the biggest auto parts manufacturers in the world. He brought Tony to the ECW show.
During Jericho’s match the crowd chanted “You sold out,” which bothered Tony.
Tony’s father thought the ECW show was the closest thing he’d seen to a war zone.
Tony The Business Man
Tony is the head of stats and analytics for the Jaguars and also runs a company called True Media that provides sports analytics solutions for sports.
Through his work with the NFL, they have a lot of informed data on American TV viewership and know that right now is a good time for live sports TV content.
Live sports programming is so valuable right now in media. He had been thinking about a wrestling company for some time, but the in last year a lot of stuff came together.
Tony was a fan of everything including WCW, WWE, AJPW, Mid-South, Smoky Mountain, NJPW, Memphis, War, and Michinoku Pro.
Tony said as he looked at the wrestling business it started to make more sense to start a company. Plus his research of the TV market and media rights showed it would be the right climate to do this.
There was no one thing that made him 100% sure but rather a lot of factors coming together at the same time.
He had a business plan that he presented to his father that made sense. He wouldn’t have asked for funding if it wasn’t a good plan.
Tony’s father was not necessarily into wrestling but into good business.
The landscape of the business has a chance to change. Tony says this will be better for the business. It will be a much more interesting time to be a fan.
Vision For AEW
The last time wrestling was exciting was when WCW and WWE were competing and there are still books and podcasts that cover that era that’s been gone for 18 years.
They aren’t trying to copy that rivalry, Tony just wants people to feel that way again.
There may be a lot of wrestling on TV, but there’s not as much high-budget quality wrestling as there was 20 years ago.
There’s going to be a return of exciting wrestling with top stars and great production values.
They want to take the stars and fans seriously and treat the product as a legit sports property. They want to take winning and losing seriously. Winning should make you happy and losing should break your heart. Wins and losses are going to matter in AEW and will be a factor in the title pictures.
Tony feels this competition approach will differentiate AEW from other companies.
When ECW and WCW closed, Tony started watching more international wrestling, then found himself watching less wrestling. He would get into these ebbs and flows.
Tony feels a lot of fans got more into international wrestling.
Jericho working in NJPW raised awareness of the product in the US with hardcore fans.
When AEW goes live, people are going to see how good Omega and the Bucks are. There’s a lot of people who will say their product is the same as WWE but different.
Tony’s says even though wrestling is a work, everyone knows what they’re doing is real. It’s getting people excited, which is the key to creating the buzz.
They aren’t necessarily looking to be true competition (to the WWE), but to present the best possible show they can is what’s exciting.
Having guys like Cody, the Bucks and Jericho have helped build a really strong base for AEW.
In WCW, guys like Jericho and Malenko got exposure being on a show with Hulk Hogan and now younger stars who don’t have that exposure will have the same working with Jericho. In AEW, though, Jericho will mix with these stars, which he didn’t get to do in WCW.
Tony is excited but says that will grow as they get closer to Double or Nothing.
Tony says a lot of the younger stars are not coming in cold. They may not have worked on live TV but they do have a base and are known. Tony is also excited with what they are going to do with women’s wrestling. He says the workrate of the women’s division will be comparable to the WCW cruiserweight division.
They are building a diverse roster of talent, but what’s important is everyone brings something different and additive. They are not going to sign up every talented person out there and they don’t need that many people under contract. For AEW they need to be discerning and keep this a sustainable business. They want to focus on the people they sign and not sign people for the sake of signing them.
Jericho and Tony talk about the AAA and OWE relationships which they are excited about and bring a lot to the roster.
Tony kept an eye on All-In and it was a big part of his decision.
Short term goal for AEW is to do multiple successful PPVs and the launch of their TV program. Long term goal, Tony would like this to be a growing business that’s been around and delivered on all its promises. He wants to be able to say he never lied to anyone and gave everyone a fair chance.
Tony has built a great team (not wrestlers) and will continue to keep growing this team.
Tony’s favorite wrestlers of all time are Ric Flair, Randy Savage, Chris Jericho, The Elite, The Midnight Express with Jim Cornette and Goldust and Cody Rhodes.
Favorite matches include Jericho/Omega, Jericho/Utlimo, HBK vs. Razor ladder match, Midnight Express vs. Southern Boys, Flair/Steamboat matches.
Vince McMahon is one of Tony’s idols when it comes to building a brand.
Tony wants to offer a wrestling show that has as good or better production values than RAW and SmackDown and says given their approach to wrestling this will be the best wrestling TV show ever.
Chris thanks Tony for being on the show and they sign off.
Review: I really liked this podcast and especially hearing Tony’s vision. He has a plan and I really hope the WWE and specifically Vince are not taking this lightly. He brought up some really interesting points like having TV Audience viewing data from the NFL. I see a lot of similarities between Tony and Vince when it comes to wrestling, such as putting together great TV. If you’re into AEW and want to hear what they’re all about right from the horse’s mouth, check this podcast. Definite Recommend. Rating: 8/10
Joe is a long time wrestling fan from Toronto. He is a co-host on the Pull Apart Podcast with Jeff Rush and Caitlin Lavelle as well as a contributor to www.pwpodcasts.com. One of his life goals is to be a guest host on one of Wade Keller’s post-show podcasts. He doesn’t consider himself any sort of expert, he just likes wrestling. Check him out on Twitter and Instagram @ja113.