Tony Khan spoke to the media in the leadup to this Sunday’s Pay-Per-View, Double or Nothing. The show is going to be headlined with the battle of the four pillars as “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry, Darby Allin and Sammy Guevara challenge the AEW champion: MJF. Khan sees this as a full circle and defining moment for AEW and the careers of the four headlining Double or Nothing.
“I think we were looking for a top contender and somebody who would be a great opponent for MJF, and in doing so, we found three great opponents and three people we really like. They’ve all been great stars here, like you said, essentially from the beginning, from the first year and really the first summer that we launched. And I think Jungle Boy, Sammy Guevara, Darby Allin and MJF all represent the future of AEW.” Khan also praised the work that his champion, MJF is doing as he sees him as a true star “And MJF has really grown into that main event spotlight. He had been in a main event before this past year, wrestling Jon Moxley in the main event of All Out 2022 , but he’s risen to that main event prominence.”
Also on the card, we have a rematch of Full Gear 2022 as Jamie Hayter takes on Toni Storm for the AEW Women’s Championship. There has been speculation online about about Jamie Hayter’s injury and Tony addressed that also.
“Well, Jamie Haider is injured and we’ve been addressing that on TV for several weeks. You know, the culprit we’ve focused on has been Toni Storm injuring Jamie in that tag match several weeks ago. And since then, Jamie has not been competing and we’ve referenced it several times in recent weeks on television.” Khan addressed Hayter’s competitive side while also not addressing whether she is medically cleared to compete on Sunday “And she is injured and she’s Ready to compete. She’s very tough and she has said she’s willing to get in and fight. And I think that shows what a great fighting champion she is. But that is true. And it’s not anything we’ve hidden away from.”
The AEW Women’s championship isn’t the only women’s title on the line on Sunday. Tony had high praise for the challenger to Jade Cargill’s TBS championship. “Taya Valkyrie’s a very experienced, great wrestler. She’s been tremendous in the locker room and backstage and is a great wrestler in the ring for us and so far has posed, I think, the toughest challenge to Jade Cargill in the championship.”
After Sabu’s surprise appearance on Wednesday’s Dynamite, Tony was asked whether this would be a one-time deal or if we could see more Sabu on AEW TV. Khan left the door open “I think it would likely be a one-off appearance. A lot of fans were excited to see Sabu. I don’t think he’s going to be somebody regularly stepping into the ring to compete. But under the right circumstances, if this goes well, then, you know, potentially he could come back and make other guest appearances.”
It wouldn’t be an AEW press briefing if the subject of competition and WWE didn’t came up. Tony was slightly less animated when speaking of competition but still thinks WWE isn’t being ethical with how they compete against AEW. “It feels like the old days in some ways. I’m always very eager to compete in whatever arena I’m in, and I really love the competition in pro wrestling, as long as it’s done with some ethical standards and people running events at similar times…And I think I expect we will do the best show on Sunday. And I think there will be a big audience for a Double or Nothing, but certainly that spirit of competition is something that we’ve dealt with from the launch of AEW, and I have never really had any problem with it as long as it’s, you know, an ethical competition. And I don’t always think it has been coming on the other side.”
After this weekends NJPW Strong Resurgence show, Willow Nightingale won the NJPW Strong Women’s Championship from Mercedes Mone after the latter was injured mid-match. Khan had nothing but praise for both women. “A tournament with Mercedes Monet in it, she’s one of the best wrestlers in the world. I have a lot of respect for her personally and professionally. And I think when you have somebody of her star power in a tournament, you generally assume they’re going to have a very good chance to win. So I would say she was the odds on favorite to be the first ever Strong champion, and I think it’s very fair to call Willow’s win an upset victory. And she was able to take advantage of an injury to her competitor to become a champion, which is frankly, what pro wrestling is all about. And I think Willow was somebody that we have had in our plan. And that’s why I sent Willow specifically as my choice to go to New Japan and compete in this tournament…I think we have a great champion now in Willow, and we’ll look to utilize Willow.”
Tony Khan was also asked about the long standing rumors of a potential brand split “Well, I haven’t given lengthy explanations yet for what I’m planning regarding the future of the roster and how people will be allocated across Dynamite and Collision and our other shows, and it’s a great question. I think certainly it could see wide wrestling fans all over the world would be interested in that and curious about that, and I think that’s frankly by design that we want to build that curiosity in and get people wondering exactly what you’re asking. What’s the future of the roster and what does this all mean going forward after Double or Nothing.”
While on the subject of TV and contracts, Tony Khan mentioned that the addition of AEW Collision to the company’s weekly programming schedule with Warner Brothers Discovery (WBD) was not part of a new deal, but an extension of the current deal between AEW and WBD.
“The scope of the deal, as it is, the length is the same. I don’t want to get too deep into those conversations, but the length of the term is the same and this is an addition to what we had already put together. Everybody was really excited about the success of AEW on TBS and TNT. They reached out to us and gave us a great opportunity. I think it spoke highly of AEW that this show and the idea of more AEW programming goes all the to the top to Mr. (David) Zaslav, who is one of the most powerful and intelligent in all of media. He likes what we’re doing with AEW on TBS and TNT and it was literally his idea for there to be more AEW on TNT. I’m very grateful for that. We’re going to do our best to make sure Collision is a great show and also maintaining a great show with Rampage and also take Dynamite to new heights. That’s a great challenge for us and we’re really looking forward to it.”
As we head into a busy month with two PPVs for AEW, Tony Khan was also asked about more PPVs “The fans need more Pay-Per-View events and want more Pay-Per-View events. So that will be a great statement for me. I do think there is potential for that, but it has to be the right economic situation for AEW and it has to be the right thing for the fans. And if that is what the fans are calling for and looking for, then I’m definitely open to it. I think with the launch of AEW Collision now having three great TV shows and five great hours of TV, it’s something that we could look at and consider. But we would also only consider it if it made sense.”
While speaking of PPVs and their distribution to fans, Khan mentioned that they are still working on how All In will be watched by the fans. “As far as where it’s going to air or where it’s going to stream or how it’s going to be available. That’s something I’m still working on and hope to have good answers for it soon. But there’s a lot of considerations to take into account when you’re doing an event like that.”
Of note, Khan was also asked about the future of Sting and how long he thinks he will be an active wrestler for.
“I am going to try to keep Sting wrestling and active as long as he wants to do it, and he hasn’t really given me a set time. He’s mentioned it at times that, you know, he’s not going to wrestle forever. But truth be told, I would like Sting to compete as long as he wants. And I really think he adds so much to the company. And going forward, as we have more TV shows, more presence on TBS and TNT. …but certainly whenever he eventually does decide that it’s time for his last match, we would definitely want to make it a big event. And I think it’s one of frankly, the biggest moments out there in pro wrestling right now is Sting’s retirement match.”
Overall, Tony Khan sees this Sunday’s event as an important start to a pivotal time in the company “I think we want to do great shows and have these great events and it’s important for them to stand on their own, I think. I don’t want to look forward past this Sunday. I think this Sunday’s a really important show, and when we get through this, we’ll have a better idea of what the future landscape is going to hold for AEW and what to expect going into Forbidden Door and the new landscape of television with Dynamite, Rampage, and Collision coming June 17th.”