AEW President and CEO Tony Khan recently had a conversation with The NY Post on the major competition he sees between AEW and the WWE, especially later tonight when AEW Rampage goes head-to-head with WWE SmackDown, starting with the Buy-In Pre-Show as it will begin at 9PM ET during the second hour of WWE SmackDown. According to Tony Khan, his strategy from the very beginning was to promote their upcoming talent and product to fans online even before there was an AEW TV and now he is feeling very positive in the position they are in as there are a lot of AEW fans and a lot of them are online as that’s how they built their fan base, through the internet.
Tony Khan also talked about how this weekend can be huge for AEW as they can build an even bigger fan base and audience as they have never had anything like this before with three hours of live wrestling on TNT on a weekend, other than a PPV and he is not the one who started trying to compete in head-to-head competition, but he does not mind if he will be the one who will take the fight to the WWE as we need to go back to an era where there is all this excitement about the shows. Khan also said the Buy- In Pre-Show was put together as a response to Vince, but he wasn’t able to do that right away, so now he wanted people to know that the gloves are off.
This is what Tony Khan said:
“From the beginning of the launch of AEW, before we even had TV, a lot of the strategy was rallying the fans on the internet, rallying the fans online around the company and our wrestlers. And people really liked AEW, the people who watch the shows, they like the wrestlers.” “We have a very positive sentiment and in the position that we’re in, like I said, actions speak louder than words, and I’ve always wanted everyone to watch all the wrestling they want. So if somebody’s going to put a show head to head with us, I want people to know, very much in the spirit of wrestling competition. (With) the ‘Monday Night Wars’ there was a lot of pride in the companies and people wore that on their sleeve. In this case, there are a lot of AEW fans and a lot of them are online. That’s how we were built, through a digital fan base.”
“We can build a big audience for this weekend. We’ve never had anything like this before with three hours of live wrestling on TNT on a weekend, other than a pay-per-view. There are a ton of things happening at this time of year, there’s a lot of sports. There’s a lot of competition outside of wrestling.” “So if we’re going to start trying to directly head-to-head compete with each other at this time of year where there are all these other things happening in sports, let’s go. I’m not the one who threw the gloves off, but if somebody has to do the talking and sell the fight, I will be the one to do it. In this case, I am doing all the talking and all the selling of the fight. I do think we need to go back to an era where there is all this excitement about the shows. It’s clearly built buzz because a lot of people are talking about it.”
“We got a great opportunity to draw people on the weekend in a new position for us. Rampage has launched very recently and we’ve had this great run of Wednesdays where we’ve had six straight weeks as the No. 1 show on all of cable television on Wednesday.” “And now, Dynamite is being moved to a relatively unfamiliar Saturday night time slot. Three hours of weekend wrestling is very different. I put together the Buy In as a response, but that took some time. I wasn’t able to do that right away, so I wanted to let people know the gloves are off.”
Tony Khan also talked about how wrestling companies are worth more if they are in competition against each other as there is greater value in that and it brings out the best in both promotions. Khan also said there hasn’t been true competition in about 20 years and now that AEW exists competition is back and more people are excited about pro wrestling, so at the end of the day Khan hopes that the rivalry will have positive results for both AEW and the WWE.
This is what Tony Khan said:
“In wrestling, we’re worth more against each other and we’re better off against each other. I believe there is greater value in the wrestling market when we’re fighting and people want to see competition in wrestling.” “I think it’s one of the reasons people lost interest in wrestling was because there was not true competition for 20 years. Now with AEW in the mix and competition back in wrestling, I think there are more people excited about wrestling than there have been in a long time with the free-agent movement and good shows. At the end of the day, it has to be good shows. Through the 90s there were a lot of great wrestling shows. Every week, every month there would be great stories and great matches and you couldn’t miss it. I think it’s starting to get that way again.”
Tony Khan then talked about how the Wednesday Night Wars are really different from now as he wants to focus on the WWE’s bigger shows and he saw how the WWE wanted to compete against them, so he can also remove commercial breaks from his shows as he has more money than the WWE, but at the end of the day, that is how we make money, so he was surprised when the WWE took their commercials out.
This is what Tony Khan said:
“It’s a little bit different than the Wednesday Night Wars because that was from the very beginning of Dynamite, and we put our head down and it was an every-week thing. This seemed like pretty predatory, which is fine if that’s how you want to play it. It’s not outwardly how they’ve (WWE) shown they wanted to play it. I’ve coined a phrase which is WYW, watch your wrestling. Whatever people what to watch, I want them to watch it. Unfortunately, if we are on at the same time, it’s harder for people to watch their wrestling, at least live.”
“We can take the commercials out of it. If you want to take the commercials out of it, I can do that too. It doesn’t seem very civil, but I have more money than they do, so I can afford to do that longer than they can. But that’s how we make money at the end of the day, so I was surprised when they took those out.”