AEW President, CEO, General Manager & Head of Creative Tony Khan recently spoke with The Ringer’s Ian Douglass and commented on how fans have been very real on social media since AEW launched in 2019.
“That’s been the biggest difference: Connecting with real people and seeing what they like, and balancing that with what I want to do. But frankly, I want to do it because I want to have a great promotion that the fans want to see,” Khan said. “I’m a big wrestling fan, and I want the other wrestling fans to like it. I do think I share tastes with a lot of our fans because I enjoy the shows too. A lot of the stuff they like, I also like, and if some of the stuff we put on the air doesn’t go perfect, I would probably agree with them that it didn’t go perfect. I like staying on the pulse of the online wrestling community.”
The pro wrestlers in AEW are also very real. Khan said he is fortunate to have acquired plenty of experience interacting with performers and personnel in other athletic ventures owned by his father – the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Fulham F.C. soccer club in the UK. Khan holds executive positions with both franchises, and likes to pair the booking skills he acquired in the world of e-wrestling when he was younger, with what he’s learned from the other athletic ventures, and the marriage of the two sets of experience have served him well now that he’s fully immersed in the world of authentic pro wrestling.
“My experiences in pro sports, working in the NFL, and particularly as director of football for Fulham, I have seen that the difference between being a fan and working in the industry is that you have to be a people person, and also that people are the key factor,” Khan explained. “Just the simple act of telling people what they’re going to do is very different in real life when you’re dealing with actual human people and trying to get them to do things in a way that they’re actually going to feel good about it, whether it’s football or wrestling. You also have all these people with great ideas, but there are a lot of ideas that you can’t do, either because they’re not possible logistically, or the people are already involved in something else, so it doesn’t fit the schedule. Other times they’re just things you wouldn’t want to do. A lot of it comes down to trusting your instincts.”
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