Tony Khan Was Inspired By ‘Saved By The Bell’ And Jimmy Fallon For AEW Dynamite’s Empty Arena Shows

Time out! — Tony Khan revealed he was inspired by two pop culture staples when planning the format of AEW Dynamite’s recent shows.

Khan was the guest on this week’s episode of the AEW Unrestricted podcast and told Tony Schiavone and Aubrey Edwards that he was inspired by The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Saved By The Bell when trying to figure out how to frame the closed-set, audience-free shows. Khan says he watched a lot of other programs in March when trying to figure out what worked for other shows that continued to broadcast during the pandemic. He says he had a friend that works for Fallon and he took cues from their show because there was something unique about just having an exchange between the cast.

As things developed, Khan explained that he also saw inspiration in Saved By The Bell and the relationship between the Zack Morris and AC Slater characters, and found a way to make their dynamic work for AEW.

“I watched the shows Jimmy Fallon was doing without an audience and he had his writers and his band in the studio, a small group of people—their laughter, that exchange they had—it made all the difference, and I watched other talk shows where they were just out there kind of cold, and I thought the The Tonight Show and Jimmy Fallon were really on to something, and I thought, that’s what we want to do. That was the beginning of the weekend it where I thought this is what we could do with these shows to be interesting.

“And then the next day it was ‘oh we could have a babyface side and a heel side, this will be great, it’s like two sidelines. That was good too and then I started to think about it as a ‘rogues gallery’ and I was just brainstorming on stuff like Saved By The Bell. ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if MJF and [Shawn] Spears were like Zack and Slater making football bets, but wrestling bets like [those characters] would make. I was just trying to have fun with it.”

Khan continues to be inspired by some interesting sources, as he had also revealed in the past that “South Park” was the inspiration for the stage at AEW’s Fight For The Fallen. During the podcast, Khan also recalled the story of how the A-Team kicked off his journey into wrestling fandom; check out the full episode at the top of this page.

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