AEW has been forced to crown a number of interim champions this year – but despite popular belief, Tony Khan believes all the official champions were treated equally.
The interim championship has been a trope used three times by AEW this year, as the World, TNT, and Women’s World Championships were left without champions to defend them. Although the temporary champions have thus far been golden in their roles, fans aren’t convinced they’re viewed as equals by the company.
Comparisons have been made between the manner in which CM Punk and Thunder Rosa were forced to briefly give up their championships, with Punk receiving almost ten times the length of TV time as Rosa. Tony Khan has defended this choice on the pre-All Out media call in response to DailyDDT’s Samantha Schipman:
“I strongly disagree with that. I very strongly disagree with that. I give the TV time based on what I believe is going to draw the most ratings. If you want my honest opinion on an eight-minute Thunder Rosa promo vs. an eight-minute CM Punk promo, then you’re going to get an honest answer. I think the eight-minute CM Punk promo is probably going to do a better rating.
As far as match length, I think Thunder Rosa has had some great matches as champion and to come out and do a live eight-minute promo, I’m not sure that would have been good for the television show, to be honest. Especially given where we were at with Thunder Rosa, I found out she was injured a few hours before a live television show, I don’t really have time to put an eight-minute promo in when I had just a couple hours notice vs. CM Punk, I knew days earlier he was badly hurt and we had already made a plan days earlier.”
Tony Khan continued, explaining how fans seemed to criticise his every move with regards to the interim championships:
“Furthermore, a lot of people criticized the way Jon [Moxley] got his match with [Hiroshi] Tanahashi, so I guess you can’t please everybody, no matter what you do, and I’ve actually seen more people excited about the four-way match than they were for the original match and I think the four-way is one of the more anticipated matches on the card and I’ve seen people way more excited about that than, honestly, in some cases, the way we go through the Casino Battle Royale match.
I noticed people complained when Kyle [O’Reilly] got that opportunity. Jon vs. Kyle is one of my personal favourite TV matches. There were people criticizing that. I’ve seen less people, although there may be some, criticizing how we got to this. You can’t necessarily please everybody, but I do think in this case, it’s been positive given the situation we were in.”
CM Punk held the AEW World Championship for less than a week before a foot injury meant he couldn’t defend the title. Thunder Rosa, meanwhile, was a few months into her run as AEW Women’s World Champion when news of an injury prevented her from defending the title on Sunday evening.
Punk is now back to in-ring competition, officially dropping the championship to Jon Moxley on the 24 August Dynamite. As for Rosa, she’s only freshly injured, with Britt Baker, Jamie Hayter, Hikaru Shida, and Toni Storm vying for the interim championship at All Out.