All Elite Wrestling President Tony Khan recently spoke with Mike Johnson of PWInsider and discussed several topics. During the interview, Khan shared his thoughts on AEW Fight for the Fallen, both the event itself and some of the matches on the card.
On Sonny Kiss vs. Cody:
Khan: “It shows how far Sonny’s come, because a year ago on Fight For The Fallen, Sonny was on the opening of the Buy-In with the Librarian, Peter Avalon, and now to be wrestling Cody for the TNT Championship, Sonny’s come a long way in a year, as a character, but also as a worker. Sonny’s gotten much better. Sonny’s wrestling is drastically better than it was a year ago in my opinion. I think Sonny being the tag team with Joey Janela has been really good for both of them. And that is a product of the pandemic. When we were doing shows down here and putting people in the crowd, I was trying different things, and it was a different roster early in the pandemic than it was before the pandemic. And I think we’re seeing that with other places now.”
“Over the past year, I mean, Sonny has come so far in the past year, as a wrestler, and the presentation. And I think the team with Joey has been a huge boost to both of them. It’s been a vehicle for both of them to be on Dynamite a little bit more. They had a great match with Brodie Lee and Colt Cabana. Sonny got involved in Joey’s match with Brodie Lee. And now Joey can be there to support Sonny in this TNT title match. It’s been good for them to get their ring time to get ready for this. They’ve had a great success on Dark, and it was really something that they got down here for the pandemic and I asked them to start doing tag matches on Dark, because it was a good chance to showcase both of them. They were primarily, early in the pandemic, being showcased on Dynamite more so as the audience people. But because they were here, and they were a big part of the roster that we had available to us, I wanted to find something for them that they could sink their teeth into, and that was that tag team. They’ve come a long way as a team and as individuals. I think it’s helped them both a lot. And so, for Sonny, I think it’s really cool that over the past year that Sonny’s earned this chance, and a very logical challenger for Cody. Cody and I sit together and put together the list of people to come in for these, and we talk them all through. This is one that there’s some he nominated, and I got very excited about.”
Khan also reflected on the economic consequences of the pandemic, and why he hasn’t been releasing or furloughing talent/employees:
Khan: “I haven’t been doing it. I’ve been baring the brunt, the financial responsibility, so there’s been a lot of people that for, not just a few weeks, I mean, for several months now, have not been able to actively participate in the company, and I have kept all those people on. We haven’t let anybody go through the pandemic, because I know it’s a very challenging time to go out and get work. I made this statement early in the pandemic that we haven’t let anybody go. We still haven’t let anybody go. I can’t do that forever. Eventually, this company will have to sever ties with people, but so far we haven’t let anybody go and there’s a lot of people overseas right now that have not been able to get over here. And, at some point, I had to look at how sustainable that is with travel, but to date we’ve kept everybody on. There are a couple people that have nothing to do with the pandemic, but due to their own conduct I suspended without pay while I try to decide what I’m going to do with them, but everybody else here we’ve kept on and paid through this whole thing, which hasn’t been easy, but I think it was the right thing to do.”
“We had great revenue streams that would have made it a lot easier from the live events. Obviously, we do huge gates and we had tons of big six-figure gates coming up every single week, and it’s millions, and millions, and millions of dollars in gate receipts that are gone and we’ll never get now. People always say, “You can go and you can do those arenas later,” and it’s like, ‘Yeah, but we would have done that anyway. We do every Wednesday.’ We’ve lost months and months of revenue that we won’t get back, and that’s okay. I mean, there’s people with bigger problems in the world than this, and if we were a tiny company that was hamstrung and didn’t have financial resources, then we wouldn’t be able to sustain it. A company that didn’t have our resources would’ve almost certainly laid off a lot of people and let people go, but it wasn’t the right thing for us to do at the time. And, so far, through the last several months, it hasn’t been the right thing to do. Like I said, I think there will come a day when I’m going to have to reevaluate the roster, because I think, at some point, there’s people who aren’t actively participating I probably need to look at that. But, right now, I don’t think it’s anybody’s fault that they haven’t been able to be here.”
Transcription credit to Mike Johnson of PWInsider