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By Mike Johnson on 2024-04-18 15:37:00

Tony Khan took part in a media conference call today to discuss AEW Dynasty.  Some highlights:

Whether he understands the criticism of airing the CM Punk footage: "It felt like when the TBS called me and told me good job, you have to remember that I'm responsible for everybody's jobs in this company. And it is really important for us to please the network and TBS was really happy with that show and that performance.  That's the most important. important thing, and our fan feedback on the show that we got, you know, the rating is the number one source of fan feedback in the end of the network and they were incredibly pleased.  It was over 400 ,000 viewers in the 18 to 49 demographic and that was a strong performance. And that is how TBS judges the show and how TBS judges the show.   It is the most important metric I have for the performance, and then the fan reception, last night we had an amazing crowd. The fans were rabid. They were really excited.   They were red hot in particular for that match involving the Young Bucks, FTR got big chance. And I think people are really excited to see Young Bucks teaming up this weekend with Okada to take on PAC and FTR and get a preview of that big ladder match at Dynasty. I'm very much excited about it. I do think that what we did last week added a lot of intrigue to this match and I'm very excited for the Dynasty pay-per-view.  I think it's going to be a great pay-per-view and I am very happy about how we got here."

Potentially stepping down and hiring someone else as booker: "That's a great question. Well, I... would certainly at some point, you know, we'd have to see where we're at.  I think with all positions, you know, nobody lasts forever and eventually that's something, you know, with any position in any of the organizations I'm in that will be a reality.  I think whether it's the Jaguars or Form or AEW or True Media, you know, I won't be here forever. So... So, you know, it's definitely one of the highlights of my life, being able to get involved in these shows, work on these shows and do creative planning and I'm having more fun than ever right now. Really loved last night's show, I thought last night was a really strong go home Dynamite leading into this pay-per-view and, you know, I take it year to year, moment to moment and I'm really loving what we're doing. doing right now. I'm only 41 years old and I feel like the company is in a really strong place and some of the greatest wrestlers in the world are very loyal to me personally and I really am very proud of that and hopefully you can continue to do my best to repay them and I think right now the company is in a very strong place. We just had a valuation, I understand, of $2 billion placed on AEW today for a sports start-up, the fastest-rising sports start-up of all time,  and the most successful sports start -up in the world since the American Football League, the AFL, that later merged with the NFL. I don't see that same future for us, but I do love the comparison and I think the numbers are quite real, and frankly, the story is very exciting for AEW. AEW that look we are a major player in the sports scene and it's going to be a really big year for our company coming up with our media rights renewal and it's the most important thing right now for the wrestlers and the staff and everybody that works at AEW and for our fans and everybody that follows AEW. And another really important aspect aspect of this is the pay-per-view growth. We've grown the business and last year we expanded the pay -per -view calendar and we had our by far biggest year ever on pay-per-view and we expected to continue this year. We saw the average go up last year while we increased shows. This year expanding the calendar and the expansion is this show.  This is the added show, Dynasty. Dynasty, the one that happened this weekend. And this is a stack card. It's one of my favorite cards we've ever put together and the bills we've done to get here. There have been some tremendous moments.  Last night was a really good go home show. And on these calls, these calls are usually on the Thursday after the go home dynamite. And we've actually spent a decent amount of time.  I say we, you know, the collection of us that are often on these calls myself. and a lot of you, the top wrestling media. We've spent a lot of time talking about the science of the Go Home Show and the different ways they're put together and I think this was one of our best received Go Home Shows we've ever done. And this was really for me, it's always exciting and there's a risk when you add a new event, change the calendar, do something like creating a new show that is AEW Dynasty."

The Oklahoma State Athletic Commision issuing a warning to AEW for booking Nyla Rose vs. another woman: " I  was  really  surprised  by  this.  It  was  not  something  I  was  expecting  and  of  course  I  was  disappointed  by  the  commission's  position  and  by  that  warning.  I  don't  think  we  did  anything  wrong.   I'm  really,  really  disappointed.  shocked  by  it.  I  don't  think  there  should  be  discrimination  against  transgender  wrestlers  or  transgender  people  at  all  and,   you  know,  they  have  rights  and  to  that  end,  I  absolutely  stand  by  Nyla  Rose.  AEW  stands  behind  Nyla  Rose  and  all  transgender  people  who  want  to  play  sports  and  this  is  wrestling.   There  is.  was  nothing  wrong  with  it.  Nyla  Rose  is  a  great  wrestler.  She's  been  a  great  world  champion  and  I  love  Nyla.  I  love  working  with  Nyla.  She's  been  a  great  part  of  our  history.   She  was  the  first  transgender  world  champion  ever  and  she's  a  great  part  of  the  AEW  Together  program.  She  does  a  ton  for  the  community.  She's  a  great  person  with  a  great  heart.   and  very  supportive  of  the  other  wrestlers.  One  of  the  funniest  people  on  social  media,  I  personally  have  nominated  Nyla  to  TBS  for  the  best  social  media  presence  on  more  than  one  occasion  over  the  years  and  she's  an  amazing  2019  going  back  to  the  very  first.   year  of  AEW,  the  first  shows,  the  first  dynamite.  And  look  at  everything  Nyla's  accomplished  and  to  just  put  that  label  on  her  that's  not  right.  She's  much  more  than  that  and,  you  know,  she's  a  great  athlete  and  I  hope  everybody  can  look  at  Nila  and  see  that  she's  accomplished.   a  great  wrestler,  a  great  person,  and  she  deserves  the  same  chances  as  everybody  else.  And  if  the  AEW  locker  room,  which  consists  of  people  from  all  over  the  world,  all  kinds  of  different  backgrounds,  all  different  beliefs,  if  everybody  in  the  locker  room  can  embrace  Nyla,  I  would  hope  that  the  Oklahoma  Commission  could  do  the  same  thing.  So,  thank  you.  So  I'd  also  like  to  mention  speaking  of  Dynasty,  Nyla  is  working  with  one  of  our  new  pay-per-view  partners  for  the  domestic  digital  presentation  of  AEW  Dynasty,  Nyla  is  going  to  be  a  special  guest  host  for  the  ppb .com  AEW  Dynasty  event.  Very  happy  about  that.   We  were  thrilled  when  she  accepted  the  invitation weeks  ago  and  we're  all  excited  about  all  the  different  ways  you  can  watch  this  pay-per-view.  This  is  going  to  be  the  most  widely  available  event  for  digital  distribution  domestically  ever  in  the  history  of  AEW.  For  AEW  Dynasty,  there's  a  lot  of  choices.  Of  course,  Nyla  is  going  to  be  there  on  We  have  great  providers  with  Triller  TV,  YouTube,  and  our  long -term  time  base  at  Bleacher  Report.   We  really  appreciate  Bleacher  Report  and  Warner  Bros.  Discovery  working  with  AEW  to  make  sure  our  fans  have  a  lot  of  options  to  watch  the  pay-per-view  and  I'm  glad  Nyla  is  going  to  be  hosting  that.   That's  something  that's  been  in  the  works  for  a  while.  I  think  the  world  of  Nyla  and  that's  how  I  feel  about  it. "

Whether AEW will continue to runn Oklahoma: "I  definitely  am  treating  this  as  a  developing  story.  It  was  kind  of  surprised  by  this,  but  definitely  wanted  to  do  our  best  to  support  the  fans  across  America  and  all  over  the  world  and  bring  AEW  wrestling  everywhere.   We  have  great  fans.  We have  great fans in Oklahoma  that  are  important  to  us  and  great  fans  all  over  the  country.  And  so  we'll  do  anything  we  can  to  support  those  fans.
 So  it's  something  we're  going  to  have  to  think  about,  but  you  know,  it's  a  fair  question.  Thanks  for  asking." 

CM Punk's statement that AEW didn't pay for his medical procedures: " I'd  have  to  look  into  that.  I  can't  say  for  sure.  It  doesn't  sound  right  to  me.  If  that  is  the  case,  you  know,  then  I  would  reimburse  them,  honestly.  I  don't  think  that's  --  I  didn't  think  that  was  the  case,  and  it  doesn't  sound  right.  So,  I  would  have  to  look  into  that.  that.  You  know,  that's  a  good  question,  but,  you  know, typically  we  do  cover  those  medical  expenses,  especially  for  something  that  occurred  in  the  ring  as  that  did,  so  I  would  have  to  look  into  that.  But  no,  I'm  not  sure  about  that.  I  can't  say  for  sure."

AEW opening up PPV options for fans on different platforms: "I'm  optimistic  it'll  continue  that  we're  able  to  deliver  the  AEW  digital  pay-per-view  events  on  multiple  streaming platforms,  and  this  is  the  most  digital  distribution  we've  ever  had  for  any  AEW  event  for  AEW  Dynasty  this  weekend,  which  is  really  exciting.  There  are  so  many  great  options, depending  on  what  platforms  you  use,  what  kind  of  devices  you  watch,  pay-per-views  are  on,  there  will  be  lots  of  options  to  watch  AEW  Dynasty.  I  think  it's  really  cool  that  Warner  Bros. Discovery  has  given  us all  these  options  for  a  long  time.  Bleacher  Report  had  been  an  exclusive  platform  and  I  think  that's  been  beneficial  to  us  because  it's  helped  bring  us  closer  to  Warner  Brothers  Discovery, which  is  our  amazing  media  partner  and  an  incredibly  important  relationship  for  us  and  then  for  them  to  allow  us  to  use  multiple  digital  platforms, partners  for  distribution  of  AEW  Dynasty  and  the  upcoming  pay-per-view  events.  That's  really  exciting  for  us.  It  allows  us  to  reach  even  more  fans  now  and  do  all  of  it  with  a  blessing  of  our  amazing  media  partner  now  that  we've  established  that  we  have  this  great  presence  on  Bleacher  Report  and  now  touching  other  platforms.  I  think  it's  awesome  and  I'm  very  excited  about  it.  It's  a  great...  great  step  for  us.  I  can't  say  for  sure  what  will  happen  after  the  next  three  events  other  than  to  say  we  will  still  have  great  digital  distribution.   Regardless,  I'm  optimistic  and  excited  about  the  opportunity  to  distribute  these  upcoming  shows  on  multiple  platforms  that  was  granted  to  us  by  our  amazing  media  partners  at  Warner  Brothers  Discovery  who  have  been  so  great  to  us  at  AEW."

Whether the ROH and AEW Trios titles are being unified: "Yeah,  absolutely.  The  winner  of  the  match  will  be  the  undisputed  world  trios  champions.  I  think  that's  very  cool  and  it'll  create  a  lot  of  great  opportunities  for  the  title  top  trios  out  there.  I  think  it's  very  exciting,  you  know,  some  consolidation  and  unification  of  championships.  And  we  have  two  great  trios  here, the  Acclaimed  and  Billy  Gunn,  who  won  their  championships  getting  back  last  year,  and  with  Jay  White  and  the  Gunns.   I  have  a  ton  of  respect  for  all  of  them.  They  have  a  lot  of  history  with  each  other  and  it  should  be  an  excellent  match.  We  had  an  injury  this  past  week  and  I  had  been  waiting  to  confirm  this  match  on  the  card  just  to, you  know,  give  you  guys  a  look  behind  the  curtain  at  the  process.  When  we  got  the  clearance  from  the  doctors,  I  was  really  excited  to  be  able  to  add  this  match  to  the  card  and  I  I  know  the  fans  in  St. Louis  will  be  excited  to  see  these  wrestlers  and  it's  something  fun  for  the  fans  all  over  the  world.  We're  going  to  have  a  great  card  on  the  Zero  Hour  and  even  if  you  can't  afford  to  buy  the  pay-per-view  you'll  be  able  to  watch  that  great  wrestling  and  that's  a  great  way  to  get  people  all  over  the  world  watching  and  that's  available  on  YouTube  and  all  the  pay-per-view platforms  for the pre-show  going  into  AEW  Dynasty."

Company revenue: "Yes,  Q1  2024,  the  revenue  is  significantly  up.  We've  run  more  events.  - Yes,  we've...we've  added  AEW Collision and AEW Dynamite  is  strong.  We've  had  good  attendance,  you  know,  in  some  markets,  year  over  year,  the  attendance  up.  In  particular, a lot of really  successful  shows in this  run,  like  great  events,  including  Boston,  Toronto,  AEW  Revolution  was  one  of  our  top  U .S gates ever.   Then  on the pay-per-view  side,  AEW  Revolution  in  Q1  is  one  of  the  biggest  AEW  pay-per-view  shows  of  all  time.  It  was  our  biggest  pay-per-view  since  last  year's  AEW  All  In  and surpassed last  year's  Revolution.   Last  year's Revolution  did  really,  really  well.  It  was  one  of  the  best  pay-per-view  shows  of  the  year.  A  lot  of people thought that it was the best pay-per-view show of the  year.  It included  MJF versus  Brian  Danielson  in the 60-minute Iron Man match and  a  lot  of great  wrestling, great  show.  This year the show did even  better.  The gate was up and the pay-per-view buys  were  significantly up for what was Sting's final  encounter, the  last  pro  wrestling match of Sting.  On a personal  level, it's probably the greatest thing I've ever been a part  of and greatest  night  I've ever been a part of and it was a very successful  business.  So with  more  shows, more  pay-per-view  revenue,  it's  been more revenue this year.  So, big  growth there and a lot of opportunities.  Also, our  rights  fee  was  higher  with  the  2024 option getting picked  up versus  2023 for Dynamite and the addition of  more shows.  We  had  significantly  higher  revenue  in  2024.  So  it  is,  you  know,  big  growth  and  also  big  opportunities  going  into  the  media  rights  renewal  year  and  continuing  to  grow  the  business  going  into  2025."

Streaming Rights:  "That's a great question.  I  think  it's  something  that  we'll  be  looking  at  and  evaluating  in  the  upcoming media rights negotiations.   I  think  there's  a  great  opportunity  for  AEW  and  really  our  media team and all of our fans to present this incredible library that has never really been made  available.   You  know,  it's  amazing.  We've  done  over 230 episodes of AEW Wednesday Night  Dynamite.  We've had hundreds  of  episodes of Dynamite, Rampage  and  now Collision is  approaching a one-year  anniversary.   We've  done  so  many  great  pay-per-view  events.  I  think, over  the  past  five  years,  a  large  percentage of the best events on pay-per-view and wrestling have been from AEW.   The  whole  library has never been in one  place together.   There's no place to really go back and watch all these Dynamites and all these great events.  So,  an archive library and a place to put streaming events, it's a really  interesting  idea  and  I think  it's  certainly something that has  existed in wrestling and wrestling fans are able to watch a lot of events on streaming and the AEW events should be up there.  It's  something that I expect to happen in our next media  rights  deal.  We're  in  an  exclusive window right now talking to  Warner Brothers Discovery, which  is  amazing  and  it's  been  a  great  time with Warner Brothers Discovery.   We're  coming up on the five-year anniversary of the debut of AEW on Turner  Sports.  That is phenomenal  to  me and it's really important and I want to respect  our  media  partner  and  how  important  those  negotiations  are  to  us  and  certainly  we're  going  to  have  a  great  opportunity  coming  into  2025  to  present  all  of  the  AEW  TV  and  all  of  our  major  pay-per-view  events  like  like  this  Sunday.  Where  all  these  shows live in 2025 is to be determined, which is  really exciting for us."

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