AEW President Tony Khan recently spoke with Sports Illustrated to hype tomorrow’s Full Gear pay per view, and answer a multitude of pro-wrestling related questions. Highlights are below.
Calls the Full Gear card the best AEW has ever put together:
It’s the best card we’ve presented, top to bottom. Every match is really strong, and every match has potential to steal the show.
On AEW’s COVID-19 safety protocols:
I’m proud of the COVID testing policy we implemented. We shut down the company entirely in the beginning of April and took that next month to develop a robust COVID testing protocol. That has served us very well. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve maintained an amazing percentage of negatives, and I’m really proud of how hard our people have worked and put in the effort to distance and isolate in between shows to make this possible. Robust testing has allowed the Dynamite franchise and pay-per-view franchise to remain strong, and we’re doing it safely.
Says he’s getting stricter on allowing his talent to work indie events:
I implemented a policy where people were only supposed to work indie shows when certain conditions were met. There have been times when people did not take that seriously, so I have tightened up the restrictions. I’ll still allow it under certain conditions, but people need to look me in the eye and say that the conditions are being met. Our talent and their opponent need to be tested before the show, and there also needs to be a good reason why the match is important. This is important for everyone’s safety, as well as important for our show. I’ve been flexible in the past because I thought it was good for the talent to have the opportunity to earn, as well as great for the fans and the indies as a whole. We also don’t run every night of the week, so it allows for talent to get extra reps, too. So we have a policy, and I’ll be enforcing it strictly.
Says he’s talked to the locker room about dangerous in-ring spots following Matt Hardy’s fall at ALL OUT:
I’ve talked to everybody about what risks are unacceptable to take in a match, and everyone heard me loud and clear. We’ve added to our protocol since that show to make sure that we’re always prepared for anything that can happen in the course of a match. We also added another independent neurologist to the staff.
Why he didn’t cut anybody when the pandemic hit:
I’m really pleased that we haven’t done that. We negotiated a great television contract that will keep us going, and that made it possible for us to hang on in a time when there wasn’t a revenue stream of ticket sales. Now the ticket sales revenue stream is very different. We were the No. 1 touring wrestling company per event, but that’s not a major revenue stream right now. The television revenue is such an important part of the business model. Frankly, I wasn’t concerned about making the biggest profit in 2020. We could have slashed and made some good money, but it’s been a very challenging year. Every company can approach it the way they want, but as the president and CEO of this company, it was important for me to keep people working and getting paid.
On the Parking Lot Brawl between Best Friends and Santana & Ortiz:
That is one of my favorite things to have ever been involved in. The idea of the Parking Lot Fight was originally born in March. We weren’t able to do that, as everything got tabled and we entered an unknown territory with the pandemic. Everything worked out so well in that story. I expected something really great, a worthy main event, and Santana, Ortiz and the Best Friends worked really hard to make that story so special in a big position. Getting Sue, Trent’s mom, involved was amazing. Santana had great ideas that made a big difference, too. Right down to Orange Cassidy coming out of the trunk, I’m really proud of the way they delivered on an idea that dated back to March. They all came out of it looking so strong, and it’s one of the best things we’ve ever done in AEW.
On a relationship with NJPW:
Nothing is impossible. I’m open to working with companies. You’ve seen us work with AAA and the NWA, among others, so certainly I don’t think it’s impossible that we could do something there. I’ve had good conversations with them in the past, so you never know.