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

Mike Johnson: You mentioned personalities in AEW - you've popped up quite a bit on Impact Wrestling playing a very hyped up version of yourself, but we also saw you pop up on the 1st edition of AEW Dark: Elevation, cutting the promo on Kenny Omega. How interested are you in portraying Tony Khan on camera beyond being a situation where you're at Gorilla...

Tony Khan: Well on AEW I'm really not. I did that for Kenny almost to further...we had a feeling it would probably do a good number and it did do a good number, I hate to admit, and it's not a thing I like to do on AEW and I've never done it on AEW Dynamite and have no intention to. We got through 80 episodes of Dynamite...between 80 and 90 episodes of Dynamite and Dark each without ever having me doing that and the first episode of Elevation I had to do that. And I actually...this is funny, I've never told anybody this but I'll tell you this - I did a promo at Impact with Kenny and Don where, it was the one where Kenny walked out and we did that in 1 take and it was really good, and they have a lot of stuff they have to get on their show so I understand, but I was in Nashville with those guys and we did that, it was like 1 take and most of it, nobody's ever seen because they told us we had time to do this and we did it, it was longer and there was a lot of stuff in there and it was good and it was also good enough that none of us wanted to do another take of it. And then they came back and were like, "Yeah, we don't have as much time as we thought, so you guys need to cut like half of this out" and we had already gone our separate ways and Don was back in Canada, and I was like, "So you just want us to chop that thing in half pretty much and find ways to cut it together?" So it didn't even like make sense, I didn't like it at all, the one I did with Kenny and Don, I don't think the fans...some of them got a good response, that's one that nobody really liked that much. I don't blame anybody because that's not what we shot, that's like a hacked up version of the thing we shot, and the thing we shot was in 1 take and it was good enough where, between Kenny, Don and myself, if there was even like a pause or like if somebody sneezed, you know what I mean, anything...somebody stumbled on a word, one of us would have wanted to do it again, because all 3 of us are perfectionists. All 3 of us were like, "That was great, that was really good, that's it, let's call it a night," and then Kenny and I jumped on a plane and flew home, and we felt great about it. So that was one where people haven't really seen it, but the thing we did, it was good, I swear, and I am a person who is qualified to judge those things. So I thought it was very good and what came out was not what we shot and we definitely wouldn't have used that if we'd known that we were as limited on time as we were. So I've enjoyed doing those with them and I think it's been good for Impact and Impact's done good stuff for us, it's been great having Don and Gallows and Anderson here on our shows and Kenny going there and challenging for their title is going to be exciting, it's a milestone in wrestling. I expect it's going to be a great, great match, I think people are going to be talking about it and the timing of it is good for us. I think it's a good time to be getting some buzz on AEW and spreading our name throughout the wrestling world as we are at that point about a month from Double Or Nothing. But for me, I've never wanted to do those on Dynamite and Dark, and actually something I said in that interview with Kenny that never made it to the light of day that we had to cut, I had the exact number and at that time it was like 76 Dynamites and 80 episodes of Dark. Never once did I have to go out there and make a match, every single time I would just do it through the headset to Tony, and then Kenny and Don and Nakazawa were so out of control that at Elevation they left me no choice to come out and do that and I felt like it ruined the first episode of Elevation, I never wanted to do that and I was really pissed at these guys, and none of that made it to the light of day. But that was part of the thing in Impact, was that I was going to be, I was like mad that I had to be at Elevation because they were so out of control, and I was like, "You guys are beating people up, you beat up the Sydals, and I was supposed to have Schiavone go and break the news to you, what are you going to beat him up? Point being - that was the one I would love to get back, because we did something that we all really liked and it never saw the light of day, but you bringing it up reminded me, that was why we did the thing on Elevation was so we could do the thing following up on it, and it was also because we figured on Elevation it would probably do a pretty good number and it did do a good number and it also didn't make me go back on what I've always felt that I don't want to do that on Dynamite. I have no intention of ever doing that on Dynamite, but for that 1 episode of Elevation, it did definitely get some buzz on the show, it created viewership and it was supposed to give us more of a talking point on Impact that we didn't actually get to use because they cut it.

Mike Johnson: Well that explains why, when they were beating people up on Dynamite, Tony Khan didn't show up afterwards, cause that was certainly a talking point that we heard from readers afterwards, "He was just on Monday, where is he on Wednesday?" It was all supposed to feed back into Impact.

Tony Khan: Well I had said I never had any intention of doing that on Dynamite, I never would, and I felt like I got dragged into it that one time, and it gave us a talking point for Kenny, his story at Impact, and then we did but like I said, never saw the light of day but it was a good thing we did and we all liked it but nobody's seen it.

Mike Johnson: I want to hit you with this one - once you get past this week and it's a different world in terms of being more wide open real estate space on Wednesday nights, what's the one thing you'd like to see the company or yourself improve as you venture further into 2021 and we hopefully start to get out of the pandemic? A year ago it was AEW who were doing the shows with pyro and were trying to figure out different ways to navigate the no fan rule and that effectively cascaded over to WWE and they changed their presentation when they were just in their Performance Center. You guys did a lot to change the culture of wrestling in the last year, that said, and please take that as a compliment, what would you like to see yourself or the company do to improve upon the foundation and the hard work that you've all put in during the pandemic year?

Tony Khan: Well thanks for saying that. I guess I would like to see us make some new wrestling fans. I think there are a lot of wrestling fans who like AEW, and I think among the world of wrestling fans, we have a chance to continue building an audience and getting fans to check out the show now because we won't be opposed by another wrestling show next week. I think we'll have some new fans coming in then I really hope, checking us out, and I hope to make some new wrestling fans in general, fans of AEW and then they can check out other companies and find what they like in wrestling, and find the wrestlers and the moves and the stories they like, and I just want to make new fans of wrestling. I think there are a lot of fans of wrestling and we can still make AEW fans watching our show, so I think I've always been focused on getting a bigger piece of the wrestling pie and I hope we can also make some new fans of wrestling and I have a feeling that anyone's that made it this deep into this interview is probably a really big wrestling fan, probably might have checked the show out already and that's why I like to do interviews with you, Mike, and with the wrestling journalists, to talk to the hardcore wrestling fans and tell them I really think about you, I really care about your opinion and I really care about what you think about wrestling and your opinions. We all are the same and your ideas matter and to the people that aren't listening to this, there's people that might not know most wrestling sites like PWInsider or they've never watched wrestling, those are the people I also want to get to.

Mike Johnson: You guys were very creative in how you tried to get out of everything with the exploding ring. How do you think you might have been able to get out of that if it had not been for Eddie Kingston's ability to basically emote a very unique situation in a very realistic way where it did not cut into his credibility as a performer or as a personality? I feel like without Eddie Kingston, it would have been a lot harder to pivot out of that to the next juncture of your story. How important was Kingston for all that?

Tony Khan: I agree with that. We're very fortunate to have Eddie here for a number of reasons but that was a time in particular where we're just really grateful to Eddie. I have an infinite amount of respect for Eddie as a person, as a wrestler, as an orator, and in this particular case Eddie was instrumental. I think Jon also played a huge part in it for the live crowd that night, Jon was really good and I had frankly, through the earpiece, had them tell Jon that I felt Jon needed to save the show and tell people basically what had happened and he nailed it. He had to come up with what to say and his explanation was great. If you're listening to this interview, you're a hardcore fan and you have an understanding of the nature of how these things actually happen and for the people watching the show for the storyline, taking things at face value and trying to suspend disbelief, I know that made it difficult but you also have to accept that the person who built that ring in storyline and the person we showed on TV building that ring was Kenny. Obviously, smart fans, the hardcores, you absolutely can hold AEW responsible for that bomb not working, but in storyline, as I pointed out in the interview, how we were going to follow up on it and as Mox pointed out in his interview or as Miro tweeted, Kenny built that ring on television, we saw him do it with a hammer and a welding thing and it didn't work, so that was where he went with it and he did the right thing. So we're very grateful to have both Eddie and Jon for a number of reasons and that was another great example why those two guys are irreplaceable and they both really helped us big time there.

Mike Johnson: All right, I want to finish off with a happier question, because this one gets asked to us every week. Why did Shaq disappear and where did he go?

Tony Khan: He disappeared because he wants to come back. I said this the other day, and quotes get pulled without context and I'm sure this one, an aggregator might take this one and pull it without context but I said Shaq's the greatest celebrity wrestler ever when you look at all the factors. His performance was huge, he did box office for us, he pulled the ratings in such a massive way and pulled one of the biggest quarter hours we've seen, not just since the pandemic but ever for AEW. He generated a mass amount of mainstream interest, absolutely brought in people who hadn't seen the show before but moreover, the amount of respect, the level of respect he showed to the craft of wrestling, to the wrestlers,he spent months getting ready for his match, he was the opposite...I can't say enough about him, I'd be underselling if I said he was the opposite of greedy, he was the opposite of trying to look after himself, he gave back to the business and he was so respectful to the other wrestlers. He went around to every single person and said to them, "I have so much respect for what the wrestlers do. I just wanted to make everybody look good and I didn't want to embarrass anybody with my performance and what I was doing out here and I hope I did OK." He was just so great. I've never seen anybody non-wrestler, let alone one of the biggest stars in the world come in and act the way he did, and he did it all as a friend. That's the amazing part and he came and he was so kind and on top of it all, before he went out, he's like, "Great, I'd like to come back," and I was like, "I would kill to have you back, that is amazing. What do you want to do?" He's like, "Well, this ambulance, just when you load it up, I'll be gone. Then nobody knows where I went and I'll come back." and I was like, "Sure, that's great."

Mike Johnson: If that's what Shaq wants, that's what Shaq gets. [laughs]

Tony Khan: Absolutely. No problem, so I was like, "That is going to be exactly what we're going to do for you," so that was it. I was in his trailer and he told me he's fine going into the ambulance, he was going to do everything...he had worked so hard on all this, but then when it came time to show the ambulance, when they go and look inside it, "I don't want to be there, I want to be gone, I left the ambulance, nobody knows where I am, I'm going to leave and some day I'll come back," and pun intended, that was a slam dunk idea, a brilliant idea and people are still talking about it, which proves it was a great idea.

Mike Johnson: We get emails every week asking, "Why did Shaq disappear?"

Tony Khan: Well now you know, because he wanted to leave of his own volition, he left on his own power, he got up and walked out of the ambulance, and by the time they came to interview him he was gone and it's because he didn't want to be there anymore.

Mike Johnson: All right. Well, if you are in the greater Jacksonville area, you can be at Dynamite this Wednesday or you could be at The House Always Wins on Friday. For full details on those, you can check out and I want to thank you for sitting down and giving us way more time than we expected to have and pretty much responded to everything I tossed at you and wish you nothing but the best for a busy week and hope everything works out to the best of your ability and you begin the road to Double Or Nothing in May and a whole new world in about a week on Wednesdays when the competition goes to Tuesdays.

Tony Khan: Great catching up with you, nice talking to you and hopefully I'll see you soon now that you're a vaccinated man. 

Mike Johnson: Let's hope, that would be nice, it would be nice to get back to wrestling. All right everybody, you can check out all things AEW on all their social media and their official website.  We thank all of you for your support. Until next time, I'm Mike Johnson. Stay tuned, obviously a very busy week, we'll have a lot more coming at you fairly quickly, so take care and check out AEW Wednesdays nights on TNT.

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