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By Mike Johnson on 2021-04-07 09:00:00

With the end of the Wednesday night competition between All Elite Wrestling and WWE NXT coming to an official end tonight, AEW President Tony Khan sat down for an hour with yesterday to dive into all sorts of topics related to the company, including their first-ever house show this Friday in Jacksonville, Florida, the return of Mike Tyson to AEW TV tonight, booking, the use of blood, taking criticism to heart and much, much more.  A very special thank you to Billy Krotchsen for transcribing this so quickly.

Mike Johnson: Hey everybody, it's Mike Johnson in the audio section of It is Tuesday, April 6, 2021. We are 24 hours away from the return of AEW Dynamite and this Friday night, AEW will have "The House Always Wins," their first ever live event / house show in Jacksonville, Florida at Daily's Place. We've got a lot of things to talk about including, just announced about an hour before we record this, the return of "Iron" Mike Tyson, one of the greatest pugilists who ever lived. We're sitting down with AEW President Tony Khan, so first of all,  let's talk about the return of Mike Tyson - why was the timing right, how does he fit into the jigsaw puzzle that is AEW given some of the changes we saw of late with Chris Jericho and is this perhaps foreshadowing Mike's involvement in Double or Nothing in a month?

Tony Khan: If I take them in reverse order, I think it's premature to look ahead to Double or Nothing, we haven't talked about anything like that but I was really excited to get Mike back at Dynamite because our schedules matched up for us to do something now and to do something this week. As far as Mike and Chris, it'll be interesting to see since things have changed a lot since the last time Mike was here so we'll have to keep an eye on that, but I'm very excited for everyone to see where Mike stands and what Mike is planning to do here in AEW. This all came together because Mike and I are friends and we stayed in touch over the past year - Mike was here I think over 10 months ago, and a lot's happened in the world since then. Mike went out and returned to the ring and had a great return match against Roy Jones and that was great. We talked as he was training for the fight and we talked right after the fight, and Mike has always said that he'd love to be at AEW. He enjoyed Double or Nothing last year, he had a great time at Dynamite and he wanted to come back. It was one of those things, we kept saying, "Let's do it, let's do it," and we were talking on the phone last week and I said, "This would be a great time, what do you got next week?" and he said, "I'm free if you want me to come," and I said, "I'd love for you to come." So it worked out perfect and I'm just glad he had the date open and we stayed in touch this whole time, I think it's just a product of being in communication and I've always really had a ton of respect for Mike and he's become a good friend.

Mike Johnson: So he's had other involvement in professional wrestling and we've seen the positive effect when athletes crossover to the wrestling world - we just saw Shaq have that great match with Cody and Red Velvet and Jade - coming from the Jacksonville Jaguars space, how do you balance the crossover celebrity/athlete with the culture and the vision that you have for the company? When is the right time to have someone like Tyson come in so that it doesn't overshadow Cody and QT Marshall and other stories that you're building at the time?

Tony Khan: Well when we have a lot of great in-ring stuff on the show, I think it's great to be able to bring in a mainstream celebrity, in this case a mainstream athlete, somebody who has a big fan base and hopefully makes new fans. We've got a great wrestling product and we're going to have great wrestling matches - this is a great example of a show with some great matches on paper - very excited about the main event, the Trios match. The first time Jon Moxley has ever teamed with the Young Bucks, it's the first time the Young Bucks have ever wrestled against Kenny Omega on Dynamite, these are really important things. This is such a big match - Moxley and the Young Bucks versus Omega and the Good Brothers. Then we have Tay Conti wrestling Allie is a tremendous match, they've both improved so much during their time in AEW to become two of our top women, very excited for that. We've got Darby Allin defending the TNT Title against JD Drake, who's been a great journeyman wrestler and earned his opportunity in AEW, who's worked his way up through Dark and Elevation and accepted the open challenge. This is really what the open challenge is all about - giving the top independent wrestlers the opportunity to come prove themselves on Dynamite. We announced the Godzilla vs Kong match with Jurassic Express vs Bear Country, which has been building for some time and in recent weeks this situation has boiled over and it was a great opportunity for Warner to come in and promote Godzilla vs. Kong with these two behemoth tag teams squaring off. And of course, Hangman Page is the #1 ranked wrestler in AEW - the hottest wrestler in AEW right now, aside from Hangman is Max Caster, who is on a real run. He hasn't been pinned in a singles match all year and has a very strong case in the Top 5 this week. When the rankings come out - this is a scoop - I will be putting Max in the Top 5 after his win over Colt Cabana, which was a really strong win, he's got 3 straight wins over members of the Dark Order - 10, Alex Reynolds and now Colt Cabana and with Hangman being close friends with the Dark Order it's a very interesting match. We have the return of the Inner Circle, Chris says they have a revelation they're going to make, Inner Circle versus Pinnacle is very exciting. You mentioned Cody and QT, I think we're going to learn more about QT and these young wrestlers that he's been training. So I'm very excited for the show and I think Mike coming in is a great chance to give some more mainstream publicity and hopefully make some new fans. I'm not sure how many but anytime you can make new fans is always great, maybe some people will watch the show this week that have never seen it before and in the coming weeks I want to make some new fans out of these first time viewers.

Interview continues on Page 2!

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