Tony Khan walks into the press scrum following the first broadcast of AEW Dynamite with indicators he’s lastly in a position to breathe simply with the present’s debut previous him. Coat eliminated, his tie knot barely loosened, the 36-year-old owner of All Elite Wrestling explains his plans for the future and proving that no owner in sports activities is having extra enjoyable proper now than he is.
Khan has been offered from the starting as a wrestling fan running the firm, not simply a billionaire. His child-like glee following the present is proof constructive this isn’t simply a PR transfer. Never fairly snug being the focus of a room’s consideration, Khan stands along with his fingers on his hips, or awkwardly gesturing to make a level, like a grade-schooler making an attempt to place classes on public talking to good use. There’s an endearing lack of polish that makes every thing really feel extra earnest, extra human. After every query he catches himself earlier than shifting onto the subsequent raised hand “Thank you, thank you for asking” he says to every reporter with a smile.
“Are there any benchmarks going into the show that you can say you checked off tonight?” a reporter asks, “Yeah! Like all of them!” Khan responds shortly, grinning ear-to-ear, nervous laughter punctuating his assertion.
At the time no one knew what the scores would appear to be. Khan himself tempered expectations when he was knowledgeable that AEW was the No. 1 trending matter on Twitter for a lot of the evening, saying that social media doesn’t all the time translate into TV scores. We now know that AEW did a 1.four on Wednesday evening, the second-highest rated cable present — dropping out solely to the MLB Wild Card sport, and trouncing WWE’s NXT present in the first week of the “Wednesday Night Wars,” skilled wrestling’s latest battle with the upstart AEW running head-to-head in opposition to NXT for the eight p.m. time slot.
But Khan is aware of this isn’t about one week, a battle, and even a bigger battle. This is about making his firm related and making it matter, no matter what his competitors does.
“I have all eight of our cameras, all our camera angles, and the live feed of our show, plus the network feed — and the headset and a stopwatch,” he says when requested if he stored tabs on NXT by the night. “I have no idea what they did tonight.”
Khan can be backstage at each present as AEW Dynamite excursions the nation. More hands-on than most presidents of corporations. He’s monitoring each side of the enterprise to make sure it meets his imaginative and prescient as carefully as doable. A self-professed stats geek, Khan is even wanting into superior stat monitoring of matches, charting issues like kickouts, reversals and pinfall makes an attempt not simply to painting AEW as a extra sports-focused product, however finally opening the door to fantasy sports activities.
“I’ve been talking about trying to do fantasy wrestling for years,” Khan says, “it’s going to be really, really exciting as we build our fan base.”
Even as he begins to tire Khan is nonetheless answering questions with gusto. He factors out a number of occasions that he’s been speaking for a whereas, but it’s virtually like he doesn’t need to go away. Offering to reply a couple extra questions he launches into lengthy explanations, even to the most mundane of queries. Above all else, it reveals that he cares.
That care is vital as a result of it’s one more differentiator in a firm making an attempt to be taught from the sins of the previous inside the wrestling trade. It’s usually stated that Ted Turner’s disdain for skilled wrestling is what killed WCW in the early-2000s, the solely actual competitors WWE has seen in a long time — however to this point AEW is a polar reverse, a minimum of relating to its executives.
“He really loves this shit,” a veteran reporter says when Khan lastly leaves the room. Reporters nod in settlement. It’s the distinction that received’t simply make AEW stand out in an trade the place many have didn’t make a mark, however the largest signal that this firm is right here to remain.