Tony Khan has responded to recent reports suggesting a power shift in AEW, saying things changed at the top of the company in 2019.
All Elite Wrestling was announced to the world on an episode of Being The Elite on the 1st of January 2019. When more details emerged of the company’s founding, it transpired that Matt and Nick Jackson of The Young Bucks, Cody Rhodes, and Kenny Omega were all named as Executive Vice Presidents of the upstart company.
Cassidy Haynes of Bodyslam.net has reported that sources within All Elite Wrestling have said that creative duties had been taken from the group of EVPs with everything now flowing directly through AEW President Tony Khan. It is noted that all talents are encouraged to pitch their own creative ideas but a source is quoted as saying that “creative is absolutely Tony Khan’s prerogative now.”
The report says that the only EVP to regularly attend office meetings was Cody Rhodes but that is no longer the case with his creative input also reduced. Matt Jackson’s EVP duties are said to mainly be focused on helping his wife Dana who is the company’s Head Of Merchandise. Nick Jackson is said to be focused on the production of Being The Elite which frequently receives over a hundred thousand views on YouTube weekly. Kenny Omega’s role as EVP is now said to be focused on AEW Games as well as helping to produce women’s matches.
A source is also quoted as saying that at this time in 2021 the EVPs are in those roles in “name only:”
“Basically they are EVPs in name only in 2021. They no longer have the final say in creative or talent hiring. Any of them. Tony Khan pulled back on the reigns and took that power away from all.”
Now Tony Khan has responded to these claims speaking to Mike Johnson of PWInsider and claims that the stories are “disingenuous:”
“I saw those reports this week and I thought that was pretty disingenuous stuff from some of the internet wrestling writers because nothing has changed in recent months and really, the structure changed for me at the end of 2019 and it was because of me. I felt like I needed to take over and be more accountable as the CEO and as the Booker. I was the final say, but there were probably too many different people with input on segments and this show wasn’t as organised at the end of 2019 as I thought it could be.”
“So for the past two years, we’ve been a lot more organised and I’ve written every show by hand, which allows me to know which segments are where and I think the shows have gotten significantly better. The fans have enjoyed them more. They’ve performed better in terms of the ratings and it’s been a good change for us, but I saw somebody reporting that recently in the news and it’s not because, we talked about this, like over a year and a half ago we talked about this, and I went on the record. I talked to you about it and Dave Meltzer, this week in The Observer, even wrote a pretty good account of it that nothing has really changed.”
“This is all stuff that came into effect at the beginning of 2020. I had said my New Year’s resolution, myself, [was that] I was going to get very organised or I told myself if there’s something I didn’t feel good about, I wasn’t going to do it and that I was going to create much more of the work product myself, that I was going to lay out the matches, the stories and format everything into a nice package, myself, and I’ve been doing it for over a year and a half with the collaboration and help of a lot of great people, including the people I started with.”
Tony Khan then discussed one of the biggest differences as relates to putting the weekly AEW shows together from the embryonic days of the company and now:
“I think the biggest difference has been instead of five people getting in a room and putting a format together, I get in a room and put a format together. I also get very amused when people refer to QT [Marshall], like the guy on the creative team. He’s effectively my assistant and he’s great. He works his ass off. He’ll show up in my room whenever I need him, and I sometimes will call him up at one in the morning to come up and I want to reorganise the show or make card changes, or I’m putting stuff together for Elevation or Dark or whatever I need. He’s usually there for me, but I’m very hands on with this stuff and it’s been that way for a long time. So I thought it was really disingenuous.”
“Somebody talked about it this week, like it was news and then people acted like there’d been some change, but there’s been no change. I’ve been in that position for a long time. And I think we’ve had our shows, in my opinion, have gotten stronger, recently. And there are a number of things you can attribute that to. One of the things I think you can attribute it to is the great star power that [came] in, and we’re getting a lot of great wrestlers who bring tons of great attributes, including their experience, their great ideas, and trying to integrate those things. Then me, myself personally, I think [I’ve] gotten better and more organised over the last couple years at doing this job and have learned a lot in the past two years.”
Elsewhere in the discussion, the AEW CEO promised a “huge announcement” on AEW Dynamite as the flagship show celebrates its second anniversary.