AEW Vice President, Tony Khan had a lot to say in a recent interview as far as WWE was concerned; especially the plethora of releases made by the company in recent months.
To say that headlines were made for a reason in that regard would be putting it mildly. WWE has, in recent history, released a massive amount of wrestlers; almost as though they had a hidden agenda, it would seem. What that agenda could detail is a mystery to one and all, but one could safely assume that the firings were due to having to pay for Brock Lesnar’s return alone.
No wonder they got rid of so many high-paid superstars.
But of course at the end of the day, a lot of that is just conjecture, and we don’t want to deal in that right now. The state of affairs over at WWE is dire, it would seem, and according to a report at Wrestling Inc, Tony Khan weighed in on it. He said in an interview with Le Batard and Friends:
“…Well, they had a really big roster, and they’ve chosen to try to maximize their profit margins by letting talent go to reduce the amount of cost they have due to talent…They had a lot of really good people, and they’re making choices about why people have value to them. I can’t say what number they’re trying to hit, but they’re definitely trying to hit a number there. I think it’s about profitability, and they’re making choices, I’m sure they don’t necessarily want to make, but they’ve let good people go in the process, absolutely…”VIA: Le Batard and Friends /Wrestling Inc (Transcription)
When asked about WCW, and the history of the Monday Night Wars, Khan had this to say:
“…My predecessor in many ways, we ran the companies very differently, but the last time anybody sat in my seat and was really successful competing with WWE was my friend Eric Bischoff, who was the president of WCW…Now, we had very different lives and different roles, in some ways, but Eric faced different challenges and what he did is so impressive, and it’s different because he took over a company that already existed, WCW…He didn’t own it, but he ran it day to day, and he answered to Ted Turner and Ted Turner was not a hands-on boss. And with all due respect, and seriously, Ted Turner is one of the most important people in the history of the wrestling business. Part of my business plan, when I launched this going to the president of TNT and TBS and going in to the offices with all their executives, was, I told them, if Ted had been 1% as hands on or capable as I am to run a wrestling business, WCW never would have gone out of business…But they didn’t really have that strong management from the top. Eric was a great president for the company. He wasn’t the owner. He still answered…That was a challenge he faced that I don’t face because I am me. As the owner, the CEO and the person running day to day, the president, I have probably a lot more under one hood…”VIA: Le Batard and Friends /Wrestling Inc (Transcription)
Which at the end of the day, probably makes Tony Khan more of a Vince McMahon than perhaps a Ted Turner in many ways, no offence to Turner. His insights as to why the releases have occurred are indeed valid.
But he went on to talk about WCW and Bischoff specifically—the mistakes that were probably made by Bischoff and company, which led to the loss of the Monday Night Wars:
“The other thing is creatively, Eric was trying to grow a business that was really underperforming and losing money, and he made it, for a time, very profitable…He went out and spent a lot of money, but he did a lot of great things, and I guess I have a different outlook because Eric went out and said a lot of stuff that turned a lot of people off, I think…He was so anti WWF (WWE)…”VIA: Le Batard and Friends /Wrestling Inc (Transcription)
The state of the business has certainly changed now, especially since the inception of AEW in 2019, and in the AEW President himself, WWE has an adversary who has certainly done his homework, and he doesn’t plan on hitting his competition with any low blows:
“…I think I can actually put them over and give them some credit here because they can’t keep every wrestler under their thumb. They just couldn’t do it, and they tried to sign so many people and had cast such a wide net for so long that, inevitably, somebody with money and connections was going to be able to come in and start a wrestling business…The disconnect would be they were probably going to have to pass it off to somebody else to run the business. One of the real things I had going here, when we launched this company, was all the institutional knowledge I’d built up over the years. Dynamite is a show I’ve been writing on paper for over 26 years, and Rampage is a show I conceived over 10 years ago…”VIA: Le Batard and Friends /Wrestling Inc (Transcription)
In the end, are we in the middle of a wrestling war very reminiscent of the aforementioned Monday Night Wars? Perhaps Tony Khan and Vince McMahon would have us believe otherwise…Vince to deflect the threat—or in an attempt to, at least—and Khan as a way to attack his adversary under the cover of darkness.
But make no mistake about it, friends…a wrestling war is what we undoubtedly have right now and both companies are working diligently to have the upper hand—AEW working that much harder if you ask me.
“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers