AEW President Tony Khan recently spoke to the New York Post to talk all things pro-wrestling. Highlights from the interview can be found below.
On suspending Jimmy Havoc and Sammy Guevara:
I suspended them both. Very different situations. I just needed to address both. We are addressing both. I think Jimmy really needed the counseling. If and when he were to wrestle again, the most important thing for himself and everybody here is that he sought treatment and counseling. When he asked for that help, we’re gonna help him.
With Sammy, I think the right thing to do was to suspend him. The comments he made were horrible. I can’t defend them. I can’t even comment on them because they’re unspeakably bad. He has also done a different kind of counseling and he’s in a different kind of counseling and it’s a different kind of coaching. Everybody here, male and female pretty much up and down the roster we talked to felt like Sammy had no history of this kind of behavior. Really people were shocked Sammy had said that. Certainly, it’s an old clip. I think the video was four years old. I had never seen that video and it’s something I would have addressed with him before Sammy started here. I never had an opportunity to address it because I didn’t know it existed and neither did anybody else or if they did nobody told us. For both of them, we really needed to address the situation before talking about what to do in the future afterward.
I didn’t want to rush into making a decision on either person, so it felt like until I had all the facts suspending was the right thing to do. Then I could make whatever the right decision is. I knew the right decision wasn’t for those guys to just come to TV and not address this stuff.
On the TNT championship match between Cody Rhodes and Sonny Kiss:
It’s an important match for Sonny. The TNT open challenge is intended for people both inside and outside the company, to be an opportunity to showcase for people who have not necessarily had that chance. We’ve already seen the open challenge earn somebody (Ricky Starks) a contract, which is very cool. Just because Sonny’s already earning a paycheck doesn’t mean Sonny couldn’t become a bigger, more visible star. I think Sonny over the last several months has really developed.
Being excited for Jon Moxley facing Brian Cage:
Two years ago at this time, Brian Cage I would say outside the group that was then members of the Bullet Club — you could call it expanded Elite — outside of that core group of guys, I’d say Brian Cage was one of my Mount Rushmore people I really wanted to sign in AEW two years ago when I was first putting together this plan. I like Brian’s combination of physicality, obviously looks like a beastly pro wrestler and he’s a huge, huge dominant powerful person, but also great athlete. Brian’s got a move-set like, he’s something out of a video game you don’t really see in real life very often, if ever. Somebody that looks like Brian and has the athleticism and can do not only a variety of power moves in the ring but is also something of a high-flyer. Which is pretty amazing to see for a guy his size. Brian really has a lot of charisma personally. I also think Taz adds a lot to the presentation because Taz is one of the great promos of all-time. I think there is a real synergy between them. They look great together.
On winning the key demographics in the Wednesday Night Wars:
Within 48 hours I speak to all the top executives at TNT every week after the show and we generally are gauging it based on the 18-49 performance and it’s been like that since before we started. That’s what we’ve been told is the really important thing to focus on. But there are other growth factors. Obviously you want to see overall viewership, but it’s really important to build young viewers under the age of 18. I didn’t address this in the tweets, but we had done really great growth with the 12-18 audience who are the superfans of the future that someday when we are back to big events live with selling tickets, I think those people will grow up and become big fans for us, too. But right now we have a really loyal fan base. It’s not ideal that they can’t be with us live every week because they are a huge part of the show. What we do have going for us is this great audience in the demo. Three out of the last four weeks we’ve been one of the top eight shows on cable in the 18-49 overnight (on Wednesdays) and those are generally what I’m judged on. When we talk about performance week to week, that’s it. So when I see people saying that the overall rating, who won and lost, I’m not sure they understand how the game is actually scored, which is what I was explaining, how if nothing else how we internally gauge success and it’s not me that picked these numbers. Although I can imagine people do think that I’m conveniently picking numbers, but this is what I’ve been told is the important thing along I had never brought it up before because we have always done very well in it. So when I see people trying to paint Fyter Fest as if it wasn’t successful. I’m like, this is very successful. Back-to-back weeks we were one of the top seven shows on cable (in the demo), putting out numbers the network and I were very happy with and would love to maintain.
Wanting to do Chris Jericho versus Mike Tyson:
I like Mike a lot. Mike did a great job on Double of Nothing and I think there was a great amount of publicity and the show did very well. I have to attribute something to Mike’s presence there. I really think the world of Mike and I’d love to have Mike back if we could ever work it out. There’s a lot of great matches out there in the future, but if we could ever put Mike and Chris together and do Tyson vs. Jericho, I think it would be great.
I really miss PAC a lot. Right now the border is not a great situation. As I understand it, if he were to go back to England, if he were to come here and he was able to get in, do a quarantine after travel then he would also, when he tried to go home, he’d be in a two-week quarantine before he could do anything. So it just doesn’t seem like a sustainable situation right now because PAC lives in England, so until travel is sustainable and he could do what he used to do, which is come here and stay and do a few shows and then go back to England and really commute across the Atlantic, it’s very challenging right now. Until it becomes safe to travel back and forth for PAC to make those trips internationally, until the border is really ready, I don’t think we can rush him back even though we’d love to have him.