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By Mike Johnson on 2023-09-19 12:47:00

AEW President Tony Khan spoke to Insider [Note from Mike: NO RELATION TO PWInsider] about AEW Grand Slam and more.

During the interview, Khan noted that his work week before Collision was at least 80 hours a week and now it has surpassed that.

It was noted that Darby Allin's plan to climb Mt. Everest (as he discussed with us earlier this year) could end up a series with Khan noting, "Yeah, I think we got something there."

On the UFC/WWE merger, Khan commented, "It is fascinating. It will be interesting to see what happens in the world of sports, combat sports, and pro wrestling. I love pro wrestling, it's an amazing business. I think there are a lot of really exciting things happening with sports media rights."

On the potential of getting AEW talents crossing over into other entertainment projects, Khan commented, "Wow, that's a really cool question. And, yes, that's how I got into wrestling. And I think all the time how we can do more of that.  I always love when people come up to Orange Cassidy and Kris Statlander and talk about how they saw them on an episode of "Floor Is Lava" on Netflix. And you have Chris Jericho being in a bunch of movies. And a number of wrestlers have done music — Brody King is a musician, Darby Allin has worked with a number of musicians. We've brought hip-hop stars like Rick Ross into AEW.  The biggest celebrity crossover has to be when we brought Shaq in. If I were a kid today seeing someone like him do AEW, that would have gotten me into wrestling. I really am focused on getting AEW stars involved in projects outside of wrestling as much as possible."

On CM Punk, Khan declined to discuss his firing but did explain why he went out in Chicago to speak directly to the fans:

I have to ask about the firing of CM Punk. This is a guy you brought out of retirement. You were a huge fan of his. How has it been since "All In," dealing with the decision you had to make?

I can't talk about that. Please ask me another question. 

Let me ask this: "Collision" and "All Out" were in Chicago the weekend Punk was fired. That's Punk's hometown but also, Illinois is your home state. What was it like walking out to the top of the ramp and essentially pouring your heart out to that crowd, your fans, as to why you had to fire CM Punk? 

Chicago is home to my family. I grew up in Champaign. I've been going to the United Center since it was first built when I was 11. My family was at the show, countless friends, everyone I grew up with. It meant a lot to go out and speak to the fans and be able to put on a great show. 

But I'm very curious. Why address the crowd at the top of the ramp and not in the center of the ring?

[Long pause.] You can't see everybody's face from the center of the ring. You have to choose one side of the crowd to face when you're in the ring. And I wanted to be able to see everybody. I felt like, I'm not a wrestler and I don't need to be in the ring, and for this moment, I thought I would just sit down and talk to everybody. That's why I brought out a chair.

And when I was done and walked backstage, the first person I saw was Ricky Steamboat and he said, "That was great, you turned the crowd. You turned them around. That's so hard to do, and you did it."  I felt I at least owed that much to the wrestlers and the fans, to go out there and talk to everybody. 



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