Perhaps the top story in professional wrestling in the last 20 years took place last week as Vince McMahon announced that he was retiring and stepping away from WWE. This means that for the first time in 40 years, there will be new leadership in the most profitable wrestling company in history.
Naturally, this decision would lead to several mixed responses from all different members of the wrestling community. Current and former wrestlers, employees, dirt sheet writers, and fans have different memories, thoughts, and feelings about the legacy Mr. McMahon will leave behind.
Not to be outdone, AEW President and CEO Tony Khan also chimed in and gave his thoughts on the landscape of professional wrestling. However, in doing so, he may have unintentionally done something that will spark a chain of events I have seen coming for about three years.
In my opinion, with one single tweet, Tony Khan has shown the world what really matters to him and, in doing so, has foretold the demise and downfall of AEW.
Full disclosure: As I say in all of my AEW columns, I’m not a fan of this promotion and cannot stand their content or product. So I openly admit that there is some personal bias here. However, while much of this op-ed is rooted in opinion, you can’t argue with some of the facts that are about to be presented.
First, let’s take a look at the tweet and what it says:
Thanks to you wrestling fans and your great support of @AEW, I’m grateful to now be the longest-tenured CEO in pro wrestling.
Thank you very much to every single person who watches @AEWonTV!
— Tony Khan (@TonyKhan) July 22, 2022
And now, let’s break it down.
Khan said he is now the longest-tenured CEO in professional wrestling. First, let’s address the fact that this is false. Jason Brown has been the CEO of Impact Wrestling since 2016, while AEW was formed in 2019. So he got that one wrong.
Second, this tweet was sent out hours after Vince McMahon, the most important and influential person in professional wrestling history, announced his retirement. It was incredibly distasteful, bush league, and was nothing more than a mark who has been playing a professional wrestling booker for three years, trying to get himself over.
This tweet shows what I’ve known all along: Khan cares more about putting himself and his friends over and pandering to the smallest common denominator as opposed to running a business and working hard to put on a professional product every week. They also take more shots at WWE weekly than any other promotion instead of focusing on and improving their own product.
Do you know who else focused on other people’s product and trying to get themselves over? Eric Bischoff. And look how well that worked out for WCW. The company went belly up in 2001 and was purchased by WWE. Another feather in the cap for Vince McMahon.
This tweet is the combination of what has been a horrendous week for AEW. Two days before this, this company put on one of the most wretched, embarrassing, and juvenile spectacles in professional wrestling history: the “Barbed Wire Everywhere” match. It included senseless violence and people cutting each other up live on television for no reason. It was sloppy, horribly executed, and even annoyed the fans in attendance at what they saw.
And AEW fans, as far as I can tell, are some of the most loyal that I’ve ever seen. So the fact that they turned them off says something about this fiasco.
The company is putting out a substandard product with inconsistent storylines, excessive blood simply for the sake of it, and wrestling in a style that is getting all of their top talent injured. All AEW cares about are spot and taking shots at WWE, not about making people feel something emotionally, which can only last so long.
The new car smell is wearing off. And now, AEW is in a heap of trouble.
With Stephanie McMahon and Triple H back in charge, reports are coming out that a lot of AEW talent is interested in signing or re-signing with WWE. And why wouldn’t they be? They can perform on a bigger stage, work a safer style, and be trained and treated properly, allowing them to flourish like they never have before.
Khan and their EVPs simply let everybody do whatever they want, and most of the time, it turns out to be absolute garbage. And when everybody figures this out, including television executives, the money will run out, and he will not be able to pay ex-WWE stars the lucrative contracts that I know he guaranteed them.
Speaking of television, TBS, one of the primary homes for AEW, just canceled Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. The dismissal of this edgy and sometimes controversial late-night talk show results from a new merger between Warner Bros. and Discovery and the different direction in their forthcoming programming. If they canceled this program, do you think they would keep the show where characters wrestle in barbed wire, have Blood and Guts matches and openly cut themselves on live television? Think about that for a moment.
The bottom line is simple: Tony Khan has no idea what he is doing as a businessman, and he and his EVPs have no idea how to run a wrestling company. They are people with lots of money and influence who managed to fool a television network into thinking that they knew what they were doing. And if you need proof, simply look at the above tweet, the state of their company, which includes many injuries to their top stars, and the content that they put out every week.
Mark my words, this series of events is the beginning of the end of the lore of AEW. Tony Khan is taking cheap shots just to get a few likes and pats on the back, putting out a product that will get his talent seriously injured, and the fact that a new regime is now in WWE is a series of events even Khan can’t escape from.
This thing will come crashing down as quickly as it rose to prominence. Just you wait and see. And Khan has no one to blame but himself.
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