Wrestling fans have been clamoring for the specifics on AEW’s TV deal, but Tony Khan has made one thing clear in a new interview — they’re NOT paying for airtime.
Khan and other top brass at AEW were interviewed by Bleacher Report for a lengthy article released on Friday in which the group talk about their new venture.
“I expected a big buzz,” Tony said. “It’s maybe a bit bigger than I expected, to be honest, but I expected it to be huge, so it’s not a surprise. Everything is going pretty much according to our plan.”
Khan states later in the interview that his current focus is on making entry into the pay-per-view market and finding the wisest way to get AEW into the weekly DVR schedules of fans. “I’m not gonna go on Monday night or Friday night, and I would never go head-to-head with the NFL or pay for time on television,” he explains.
His big goal, however, is to “establish a better work-life balance and quality of life for our performers with less time on the road [and] very good money comparable to what you’d get at the highest level in the world of wrestling, because we can make the bulk of our revenue from pay-per-view and television.”
“I’m not planning on doing hundreds of non-televised events on tour,” he adds. “Because I don’t think that would represent a large enough revenue stream for us and profitable enough business sector for us to risk the health and well-being of all these wrestlers. I’m not gonna have an offseason, but there will be a lighter schedule and we’ll work people in and out.”
Speaking on the well-being of wrestlers, Cody was quoted as saying: “There’s a lot of people who saw the story John Oliver did and immediately called for a union or better care for their wrestlers. Better care is paramount, and one of the first ways you do that is raise the pay floor, which we’ve done.”
Rhodes wouldn’t go into detail, but claims he and Matt Jackson have discussed a desire to “continue to push to a place where there is some sort of governing body that helps protect the current generation but also older veterans that will soon be retiring.”
Cody also claims there are several wrestlers outside of the EVP position who will be receiving healthcare and benefits. Adding, “That’s a first for wrestling, and these are slow and steady steps and I’m super proud. But it can’t happen overnight. That’s what I should have said all along.”
As for the All Elite Wrestling show itself, Matt Jackson says he’s trying to tune out of what everyone else is doing to focus on making their show unique. “I don’t want to subconsciously book a similar show to anyone else,” he explained. “I genuinely haven’t watched WWE television in years. I don’t want it to sound and look the way their show feels. This needs to be different for it to succeed.”
Cody finished the interview saying, “There’s a real difference between a written show and a booked wrestling event, and I think we’re going to lean toward a booked wrestling event—sports-centric, physical cues telling the story. That’s what wrestling is.”