Tony Khan isn’t shy to say that he’s engaged in a wrestling war with WWE.
The AEW President spoke on this topic during a recent interview with The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, where he says the hatred between the two companies is very real and that it benefits wrestling fans because it creates exciting television. Highlights from the interview can be found below.
Says members of his roster have told him that WWE attempted to tamper with their contracts:
I can’t really comment on what [WWE’s] internal struggles are because I don’t work there, and I’m not there. I can only speak to the challenges we’ve had. I’ve had a lot of wrestlers come to me and allege that WWE reached out to them to tamper with their contracts and asked them to break their contracts. I can’t confirm that specifically. I can only tell you what the wrestlers have come to me and said, but I’ve had multiple wrestlers and staff report that to me; it was very disturbing. I’ve had to go out and try to put on good shows, despite this alleged tampering and stuff like that. Frankly, I don’t think it stopped us because the quality of the product and the quality of the shows is at an all-time high right now.
How the wrestling business is very dirty:
The wrestling business is very dirty. I can’t speak to the fight business,” said Tony. “Certainly, I think it’s more organized than the fight business. There are two well-organized promotions competing with each other. Again, I don’t know if these things have happened. I only know what people have come to me and alleged, but I do know that it’s a real war between AEW and WWE, and the fans are interested in it.
Says the hatred between AEW and WWE is real and makes for compelling television:
That was part of the original business model of AEW. I knew wrestling fans, frankly, are very interested in wrestling free agency and wrestling wars. I believed we could create a free agent market that is definitely a real thing now, and that would be a big part of the story. I think wrestling fans, at the end of the day, appreciate that a lot of what happens in wrestling shows is sometimes story, and that’s why people like watching the shows. They like the stories and the exciting matches, and especially the combination of the two when the stories lead to exciting matches and vice versa. Now what’s interesting is the story that is the most real, the most intense, and the most hatred and all of pro wrestling is that between the two wrestling promotions, I think we truly, truly hate each other. I think it makes for really exciting TV, and it makes for an exciting wrestling war.
How WWE attempted to tarnish the relationship between AEW and NJPW:
I’ll give you a good example. About two years ago, there was a rumor I read on the internet that my business partner, New Japan Pro-Wrestling, had gotten a phone call from Nick Khan about switching over to work with them. I was really just getting started with New Japan. We only had been working together a short time. That also had been, frankly, a tumultuous relationship, but it was getting pretty good. To this day, it is an amazing partnership, and I called the New Japan executives and said, ‘Is this true? Did WWE call you and try to get you to turn on me?’ They said, ‘Yeah’ and I said, ‘Okay, well, are we still doing the stuff we have planned?’ Because at the time, we had a match set up for Wednesday Night Dynamite where there was going to be a New Japan title match in AEW. It was the first of many of those such matches, and they told me, ‘No, we don’t trust them. We wanna work with you, and we wanna stay with you.’ Ever since, our relationship has been incredibly positive. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I only know what my business partner alleged to me and what I read on the internet, and they were both the same thing,” Tony added. “So following up on that, if that’s the case, I know, they’re out there to get me. I know they’re out there to hurt AEW’s relationships with our business partners if that’s the case, allegedly. It made me want to work that much harder to make AEW stronger. That ended up being, probably, the biggest year for growth we’ve ever had.
(H/T and transcribed by Fightful)