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TONY KHAN DISCUSSES MIKE TYSON'S RETURN ON AEW DYNAMITE, THE COMPANY'S FIRST HOUSE SHOW, BLOOD, BOOKING, GETTING WEDNESDAY NIGHTS ALONE FOR AEW, CHRISTIAN, PAUL WIGHT, ROSA VS. BAKER, SHAQ, KINGSTON AND TONS MORE

By Mike Johnson on 2021-04-07 09:00:00

Mike Johnson: Tomorrow you'll still be going head to head with NXT, but next week the landscape changes. How does WWE moving NXT and the Wednesday Night Wars, for a lack of a better term, coming to an abrupt end, change the goals and expectations for Dynamite moving forward or does it not change at all? 

Tony Khan: That's a great question. I have a stacked show planned for this week and I have another stacked show planned for next week when we're unopposed by a wrestling competition. We'll have some stories this week that are going to be very interesting and are going to lead people, my hope is, wanting to come back and watch next week's show. I believe there might be some wrestling fans who might have not watched the show before and are going to want to come check it out in the next couple of weeks. So I think having Mike Tyson on the show this week is a great way to bring some attention to the wrestlers and our big matches and big stories this week and we're going to have a really, really strong card the next couple of weeks. We have a great roster and there's no reason we shouldn't have great cards every week. We've consistently been doing big matches every Wednesday and I think now's a great time to pour some gasoline on the whole situation and create a blaze.

Mike Johnson: Over the last year and a half since Dynamite hit the air, for most of those weeks you were going head to head with WWE NXT. What lessons did you learn from the head to head competition and is there anything you would have done differently looking back in terms of the way you paced the shows or perhaps just strategies for the show?

Tony Khan: I think it's a great, great question but I think it would be a better question to ask me after this week. We're opposed one more week, tomorrow's a big deal and I think we get through tomorrow and next time I'd love to answer this question because I've learned a lot from this competition. I'll be honest, the low point for us was definitely December 2019, and you talk about us being opposed/unopposed - we were unopposed January 1st, we were opposed by a clip show. And the show we did on January 1st , 2020 was the show that really changed things for us. The pandemic changed the world, but before we all knew what the pandemic was, January 1st, 2020 - we changed our own destiny. We went out and did the best show we could possibly do that night and took advantage of no new competition - no new matches, just a clip show. Cody and Darby tore down the house and they had a story that kept going throughout 2020. Moxley and Trent had a great match on the show, that led to Jericho offering Moxley the car and a huge step in the story of Moxley being offered a spot in the Inner Circle, that of course led to Revolution and Jon winning the championship from Chris. We had a great 4 way women's match, planting the seeds, I remember being backstage with Britt that day - Kenny had mentioned around the holidays that Britt should turn, and I felt the same way - I talked to Britt that day and she went out that night knowing that's where she was going and had a great 4 way match and they pulled a great number too. The main event was Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks on the same team and they were wrestling the Lucha Brothers and PAC before they became known as the death triangle. That match was really important also, that match did a great number and that show did a great number. We changed our own destiny that night and never looked back. We've changed a lot - I feel like we've come out stronger for it and we've done very well for ourselves the week's we've gone head to head, but I've also learned a lot from the weeks we've been effectively unopposed, such as the one I just mentioned, or say the week after All Out where Brodie Lee and Dustin Rhodes tore the house down in the TNT Title match and did a great audience for that show in September of 2020.

Mike Johnson: How much do you pay attention to the feedback and criticism on the booking or the use of blood..

Tony Khan: Well those are all different things. That would be like if I came in with 7 different insults for you at once 

Mike Johnson: I'm not trying to insult but...

Tony Khan: 7 different criticisms at once - let me do them one at a time, those are all different things, so I would not have the same response for the use of blood as I would an individual story. 

Mike Johnson: OK, so how about we talk about the use of blood...

Tony Khan: For every criticism I get, it's not like I have a shelved answer, because a lot of criticisms in life are valid, some are not. A lot of times you can say something in an article, I could say something to you today and somebody could pull a quote out of it, it's not even you but aggregation people, an aggregation site could take one sentence I said to you, and there might be five paragraphs of evidence or explanation or context behind it, and none of that's going to come through in the headline. The headline will be one line out of it, and then people will eviscerate that one line because no one will click on it and read the whole explanation or the context behind the quote. So as far as individual criticisms, I really, really, really believe in that stuff and I have paid attention and I do pay attention when people, there's something they don't like or something they don't want to see.

Now sometimes - some things are just nature setting in.  There are times where people are impatient and I get that, sometimes there are things in wrestling that you have to wait for and I don't think people have the attention span they used to have, so there are times where people are eager to see something, they just don't want to wait, and I get that. Doing a storyline where Sting sat in the rafters for a year without wrestling in 1997 would be very difficult to pull off now with social media. I think if Eric had tried to do that now people would be a lot more critical of it today because people would be like, "When the hell is Sting going to wrestle?" I found that out when I tried to hold Sting off for a couple of months building to a Sting match, I thought it would be much more manageable but because of social media, people were much more eager to see Sting get back in the ring.

But as far as some of the criticisms of segments, I take a lot of that to heart and follow what people are saying online pretty closely, because a lot of times, the fans...why wouldn't you want to listen to the fans? The greatest feedback we have in the world is from the wrestling fans, because unlike in other sports where the fans are yelling something at you and it's too late, they're yelling, "Catch the ball," it's over, you didn't, it's too late. You can yell at the guy but he didn't catch it. In wrestling it's not like that, because a lot of times you can put the toothpaste back in the tube, you can fix something, and that is what makes wrestling very special. It's one of the reasons I love it so much because there are opportunities to go back if you make a mistake and fix them. I do take a lot of that stuff to heart. So the way you listed them, no offense, but the way you listed them was like 7 different things, so I would have to individually go through them. The use of blood I heard in there.

Mike Johnson: Yeah coming out of the Thunder Rosa / Britt Baker match we saw, at least here on our website, some pushback of, "Why did they have to have so much blood in this match?" and that there's been a lot of blood in general in AEW.  

Tony Khan: That was a story that was building for 5 months and a 5 month build lights out match, and it's a match where we've seen with Moxley and Kenny at Full Gear 2019 that people hold nothing back in these matches, there are no rules, and there's an expectation that it's going to get very physical and there could be some pretty ugly fighting with some weapons and potentially some blood, and I felt like they more than lived up to the reputation of the lights out match, and I don't think that anything that Britt and Thunder Rosa did was out of the expectations of a lights out match and I thought everything they did was great. The blood is not what I was worried about, there were some moments in the match, like the finish, that I had to get talked into, [laughs] but the match was my idea, doing a very physical match was my idea, and the finish itself was all very consistent with my ideas. But the final spot, they had to talk me into doing that through the table, other than that, I thought everything else was very much in line with the expectations fans would have for lights out matches. It's a big main event. So I didn't think they did anything that crossed the line and furthermore, in that situation, Britt is clearly a doctor so there are very few people that I would trust more in a situation to do the right thing than her.

Mike Johnson: You mentioned you had to be talked into their vision for the finish....

Tony Khan: Not their vision for the finish. I had the finish but that was a hell of a high spot at the end. That was, to me, a more precarious thing in the match, to me, than the blood. That was the thing I was more worried about was when she gave her that driver through the table at the end.

Interview continues on Page 3!


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