AEW President and CEO Tony Khan has claimed that his AEW’s willingness to work with other promotions makes them the top dog in the wrestling world.
Hiroshi Tanahashi coined the phrase ‘forbidden door’ when he met AEW World Champion Chris Jericho at WrestleKingdom in 2020. Jericho was one AEW star at the time able to work for New Japan Pro Wrestling in what seems like a different era in professional wrestling. With company’s looking inwards, it seemed a flight of fancy that promotions as diverse as AEW, NJPW, AAA, Ring Of Honor, IMPACT Wrestling, and the NWA would all be sharing talent in some form or other a little over a year later.
Speaking on Tuesday Wrestling Tuesday with Jonathan Hood, Tony Khan explained why he thought cooperation was the best thing for the wrestling industry and began with a history lesson, going back to WWE Chairman Vince McMahon’s father Vince Sr.’s way of working:
“Vince Sr was really cooperative. He booked Andre (The Giant) out all over the country. He would work for AWA and would go to Mid South and work in Houston. Wrestling was much more collaborative before the mid-80s and it was actually one person that made the business less collaborative. I’m trying to bring some of that spirit back. When Vince Sr was running the New York territory, it was a much more collaborative thing.”
Khan continued, detailing why to him if things make sense from an AEW point of view, he’s more than happy to play well with others:
“IMPACT, AAA, and certainly New Japan, I’ve done a lot of stuff with. It has to make sense for AEW and we’ve seen wrestlers from AEW go and capture championships in different promotions around the world. A lot of AEW wrestlers still hold championships in various promotions around the world and it’s good for those promotions to have such strong recognizable champions who have a great TV platform to wear their titles and it’s good for us because it shows that we’re the top company in wrestling, frankly, and a lot of companies out there have had our wrestlers come in and do really well.”
“I’m very open to it and it shows good bonds between the companies and allows us access to good wrestlers. We have one of the best rosters, but it’s always good to have fresh and different talent. It’s why I like working with other companies. Also, New Japan has had big shows and have great talent specifically. I’ve done a lot of things with them. The main focus is on AEW and our shows. We have such a big roster and so much bandwidth that it allows us to expand, partner, and help other wrestling companies.”
Most recently, AEW talent such as Leyla Hirsch, Diamante, KiLynn King, and Red Velvet appeared on the all-female NWA EmPowerrr show in St Louis, Missouri. At the upcoming All Out pay-per-view New Japan’s Satoshi Kojima will face former IWGP United States Champion Jon Moxley.