Tony Khan, President and CEO of upstart All Elite Wrestling, recently sat down with interviewer Chris Van Vliet to discuss AEW’s upcoming show Double or Nothing, its roster and future in a sprawling interview.
While AEW’s four executive vice presidents — Cody Rhodes, the Young Bucks, and Kenny Omega — are the public faces of the company, Tony Khan is the billionaire behind the scenes who is making it all possible. The co-owner of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars and English Premier League’s Fulham F.C., he knows what it takes to succeed in the world of televised sports. But what makes him different from other companies who have tried to profit off of wrestling, such as Sinclair Broadcasting, Khan is a lifelong, hardcore wrestling fan. This confluence of passion and resources hasn’t happened since Ted Turner purchased World Championship Wrestling in the late 1980s and turned it into a worldwide phenomenon by the mid ’90s.
Khan has the passion and knowledge of your average Wrestling Observer Newsletter subscriber or redditor — just with an extra few billion dollars laying around. He seems committed and just as importantly, confident in his newest venture. When talking about AEW’s five year plan, he said, “We will have built up a brand, we will have built up a roster, we will have established ourselves as a top brand in wrestling for people who want fast paced, exciting action, and want a product that is more of a sporting based product.”
He assured Van Vliet that AEW will be successful, as they have a well researched business model. “The amount of interest we’re getting from media partners and sponsorships opportunities are tremendous. So it’s a very, very exciting time for AEW.”
Several wrestling companies have tried to fill the gap left from the demise of WCW in 2001, and all have failed. Khan is confident that won’t happen with AEW. “AEW is a blend of great performers, and we have some of the greatest minds in wrestling that are working with us. And we all have a vision, and frankly, we have resources that none of the [other companies] have had.”
Of course, Khan is confident in other areas than just business. No wrestling company can succeed without a talented roster of wrestlers, and he feels that AEW has the best the business has to offer. “There hasn’t been a roster with this caliber of workers on it, in America, with these kind of resources, ever.”
I definitely recommend watching the entire interview (and subscribing to Chris Van Vliet while you’re at it — all his wrestling interviews are very interesting). Khan sounds completely committed to AEW, and confident it will become profitable and a true alternative to WWE, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the late 1990s. If his plan comes to fruition, it will be a very exciting time to be a wrestling fan.