AEW owner Tony Khan held a media conference call to promote Double or Nothing. We will probably follow up with some longer clickbait articles once we get the full audio file and transcribe it, but in the meantime, here are the notes on what Khan discussed during the call.
Asked about allowing MJF's contract status to be included in storylines:
"I think wrestling thrives when real life is on screen and the real-life conflict is often just as exciting as any conflict on screen, which is one of the great things that AEW brought to the wrestling business." Khan credited AEW with creating competition and a free agent market similar to the one during the Monday Night Wars. Khan said that the MJF contract situation adds to the feud between MJF and Wardlow and transitioned into promoting that match.
Asked about the Warner Bros/Discovery merger and the future of AEW's relationship with the company:
"Right now, we're featured in the best way possible with AEW Wednesday Night Dynamite on TBS and AEW Friday Rampage on TNT, and we've gotten great, great, great feedback that I think this is gonna be a great relationship between AEW and Warner Bros/Discovery." Khan said that the company is throwing AEW an "awesome party" when they hold a show in Los Angeles next week. He put over WB/Discovery, Los Angeles, and AEW's ratings and said top execs will attend AEW's event in LA and get to know everyone in the company better. Khan said other shows haven't gotten that reception from the company. "You really can't get any more positive than the great feedback we've gotten from Warner Bros/Discovery," he said.
Asked about whether he was tempted to put CM Punk a title feud right away:
Basically, no. He said Punk earned his spot.
Asked how the Forbidden Door PPV being in Chicago affects All Out:
Tony said he doesn't take the connection with All Out and AEW to Chicago lightly. He said that doesn't mean All Out won't be in Chicago and implied it may happen there every year.
Asked about the Owen Hart tournament and working with Owen's family:
Khan said it "meant the world" to him to be able to put on a show that Hart's family enjoyed when they came to Dynamite. He talked about the respect everyone has for Owen and said his goal was to celebrate Hart's legacy. Khan said Martha Hart will "have some words to say to the fans" after the conclusion of the tournament at Double or Nothing.
Asked if he's considering doing a one-night tournament:
Khan said that it could be bad for the wrestlers and potential injuries.
Asked how AEW can adjust to attract the next million wrestling fans:
"It's probably one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves." Khan talked about the consistent year-over-year growth of AEW's PPVs. He said that AEW needs to treat wrestlers well so people want to work there, both young wrestlers and top free agents. He talked about Bryan Danielson, Tony Storm, and Jeff Hardy as examples of top free agents. He said they need to develop homegrown stars to compete with them. He also mentioned a streaming service as a way to gain more viewers and brought up the relationship with Warner Bros/Discovery in that regard.
Asked about how CM Punk can help develop younger stars while being the top guy (if he wins the belt):
Khan said Punk has been a mentor to a lot of the wrestlers and has helped AEW by creating compelling TV. He brought up Punk's feud with MJF. "Probably one of the most personal rivalries in pro wrestling." To avoid giving away the result of the main event at Double or Nothing, he also put over Hangman Page, his feud with Kenny Omega, and his run as champion. He specifically praised Page's 60-minute draw with Bryan Danielson and subsequent victory over Danielson in the rematch.
Asked about why Ring of Honor was acquired by a separate company instead of AEW:
"I just jumped on it, honestly. Me personally. It was a unique opportunity. I heard that if I paid a certain price I could acquire Ring of Honor then and there." He said the price was right, the opportunity was right, and he was looking out for AEW, but it makes sense for Ring of Honor to stand on its own feet and not be a developmental or secondary promotion. He said Supercard of Honor was the biggest ROH show in years, twenty times more than recent ROH PPVs, and one of the biggest ever for the company. He said it's been great having top stars of Ring of Honor wrestling on AEW, including ROH TV Champion Samoa Joe competing in the Owen Hart tournament.
Asked whether AEW and DDT women's wrestling will crossover:
Khan said that Yuka Sakazaki comes from the DDT dojo and he would be interested in getting more women and men through the Forbidden Door, including from DDT and other companies in Japan. "No company do we work closer with that New Japan Pro Wrestling."
Asked about the segment between Punk and Page on Dynamite and Page's promo treating Punk as an "interloper:"
Khan said it makes perfect sense Page would feel that way since Punk has fought some of Page's friends like John Silver, has gotten a lot of attention since joining AEW, and is challenging for his title. He said he can understand why someone who helped build AEW would feel that way, but thinks it will make for a great title match.
Asked about a women's match main-eventing a PPV in the future:
Khan said both Battle of the Belts specials were headlined by the Women's Championship and so was the Grand Slam episode of Dynamite and both St. Patricks Day Slam episodes of Dynamite, and the first-ever episode of AEW Rampage. "If it's unquestionably the biggest match on the show," Khan said a women's match would get the main event spot.
Asked about allowing wrestlers to express their political views (example: CM Punk on abortion rights):
"I want the wrestlers to be able to speak their minds and feel like this is a place where they have the freedom to talk about what they care about." Khan said AEW wrestlers are authentic on television and social media.
Asked about what the winners of the Owen Hart tournament will get:
"I think on Sunday at Double or Nothing, people will see what the Owen Hart Tournament winners will receive." He said it will be really nice and he's shown it to Dr. Martha Hart and her family and gotten their approval.
Asked about coming to Canada:
"I would love to bring AEW to Canada." He said that the pandemic delayed some plans but Canada has been on AEW's list for a long time and they'll go there in the near future.
Asked about Johnny Elite:
Khan said he is interested in bringing him back in the future.
Asked when there will be news on TV or live events for Ring of Honor:
"We're still working on that and it's an exciting time in media." He talked again about the relationship with Warner Bros/Discovery and said he's talked with them about ROH and also about expanding the AEW audience and "the ways we deliver AEW content to our fans." He said, "I would love to get Ring of Honor a weekly TV series or streaming series, wherever it ends up going, pretty soon." He added, "I'd like to bring Ring of Honor back to PPV as well."
Asked about adding Women's Tag Team Titles or Women's Trios Belts:
Khan said he has thought about those and that when they expand the roster and get more women who have been injured back, he would love to do that in the future.
Khan thanked the media (you're welcome, Tony!), apologized for not being able to answer more questions, and said he'll answer more at the post-Double-or-Nothing scrum and stay as long as it takes there.
AEW Double or Nothing will take place on Sunday, May 29th at 7PM ET at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. Headlining the event is an AEW World Championship match between champion Hangman Adam Page and challenger CM Punk. Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus will defend their AEW Tag Team Championships against the team of Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland and the team of Ricky Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs in a triple threat match. That event will also feature Thunder Rosa putting the AEW Women's Championship on the line against Serena Deeb. Jade Cargill will defend the TBS Championship against Anna Jay. The Jericho Appreciation Society will take on an alliance of the Blackpool Combat Club, Eddie Kingston, and Santana and Ortiz in "Anarchy in the Arena." MJF will take on Wardlow, with Wardlow's future on the line. The Young Bucks will face The Hardys. Both the men's and women's Owen Hart Foundation Tournament finals will take place at the show, with Samoa Joe facing Adam Cole and Britt Baker facing either Ruby Soho or Kris Statlander. Plus, Hook and Danhausen will team up against Tony Nese and Mark Sterling on the pre-show. Double or Nothing can be purchased on PPV or streamed on Bleacher Report or Fite, depending on region.