Tony Khan Talks About Getting His Father To Take A "Leap Of Faith" On AEW

Shahid Khan needed some convincing...

Just over a year ago, Tony Khan and The Elite announced the creation of All Elite Wrestling, a new professional wrestling promotion in the United States. Since then, AEW has sold over 100,000 tickets and its weekly TV show, Dynamite, has been broadcast around the world.

AEW President Tony Khan appeared on the South Beach Sessions podcast with Dan LeBatard yesterday to discuss the creation of AEW.

LeBatard first asked Tony when Shahid Khan realised AEW would be successful. Tony explained it was not until after AEW launched and that his biggest hurdle was initially convincing his father that wrestling was worth investing in.

Khan said: "That didn’t really happen until we launched, because it was a leap of faith on his part because the projections I was giving him, there was no evidence that this was actually going to happen. I had to tell him, 'I expect people are going to buy these pay-per-views, I expect we’re going to get this television deal, right now is the perfect time to start a wrestling company because of the abundance of talent that’s available.'

"As I explained to him at the time, if you were trying to go and start an NFL team, well, (A) there’s a huge barrier entry. Nobody’s going to let you into the NFL. Okay, well you could go start another football league but to get fans, people are going to want to see the name players that they’re familiar with and the best level of football and the top quarterbacks...We were really in a unique position in the world of wrestling where a lot of the best talent and most capable wrestlers were going to be out of contract at the beginning of 2019 and there was a chance to put together a roster of wrestlers that would make us one of the top leagues in the world."

Khan then explained what the initial conversations with his father about AEW were like. He said that his father was hesitant until he noticed that the President of WarnerMedia Kevin Reilly was interested in acquiring the US TV rights for the company, which made him realise that AEW could be a successful venture.

AEW's president elaborated: "The initial conversations were like, 'This is kind of interesting.' He wasn’t really going to commit to anything and then I had brought in my good friend Kevin Reilly, who also had shown some interest in the project. Kevin is the president of WarnerMedia and is the president of TNT and TBS Networks and Kevin is the first person I really approached about this idea when the TV rights for wrestling had gotten very valuable and his network was going to look at getting involved. They didn’t end up bidding on the WWE TV contracts to the point where they were going to be seriously considered to air Raw or SmackDown, but they had taken a look at that and done their diligence, and I think he realised that there’s a big audience for wrestling and for live TV viewership.

"It's really a great way to bring new viewers to your channel and TNT had a great history of broadcasting wrestling going back to WCW and before WCW, Jim Crockett Promotions and different wrestling companies out of Georgia and so really with Kevin coming in, my dad was, of course, interested because here’s the president of WarnerMedia, the president of these huge cable channels, TNT and TBS, so he’s showing some interest in this, so my dad’s I think thinking, 'Okay well I probably should show up and show some interest in this,' but he knew when that happened, 'Okay, well if the networks are taking a look at this, then this must be a serious deal.'"

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Aidan Gibbons

Written by Aidan Gibbons

Journalist/Editor-in-Chief of Twitter: @theaidangibbons