When All Elite Wrestling launched in 2019, it was seen as having the potential to be the first true US competitor to WWE since WCW folded almost two decades earlier.
The promotion got off to a great start, signing a major multi-year TV deal with TNT/TBS and persuading major stars such as Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley to jump ship from WWE to AEW. Later, they also attracted Bryan Danielson and Adam Cole to do the same. Their flagship show, Dynamite, also won the so-called Wednesday Night Wars against NXT, decisively beating them in the ratings on a weekly basis until WWE’s developmental brand moved to Tuesday nights instead.
However, the All Elite company’s momentum appears to have stalled since then, with Dynamite’s ratings continuing to hover around the 1 million mark event though it has seen off its competition. There was also a huge blow for the company in early 2022 when one of its founders and EVPs, Cody Rhodes, left to sign with WWE, making his return to that company at WrestleMania 38.
Despite this, Warner Brothers Discovery, the company that owns TNT and TBS, is said to be happy with AEW’s performance and Tony Khan is expecting a “lucrative” media rights deal to take place this year.
Tony Khan accuses WWE of attempting to hurt business partnerships
Another boon for AEW came with the promising business partnership they have formed with NJPW over the past few years. This has not only seen wrestlers from each promotion crossing over to the other, but also the successful Forbidden Door pay-per-view event that saw them go head-to-head.
On a recent edition of The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, though, Khan revealed that New Japan confirmed rumours that WWE had attempted to get them to deal with them instead.
“About two years ago, there was a rumor I read on the internet that my business partner, New Japan Pro-Wrestling, had gotten a phone call from Nick Khan about switching over to work with them and I was really just getting started with New Japan.
“We only had been working together a short time and that also had been, frankly, a tumultuous relationship. But, it was getting pretty good and to this day, it is an amazing partnership.
“I called the New Japan executives and said, ‘Is this true? Did WWE call you and try to get you to turn on me?’ And they said, ‘Yeah’ and I said, ‘Okay, well are we still doing the stuff we have planned?’ Because at the time, we had a match set up for Wednesday night Dynamite where there was gonna be a New Japan Title match in AEW.
“It was the first of many of those such matches and they told me, ‘No, we don’t trust them. We wanna work with you and we wanna stay with you’. Ever since, our relationship has been incredibly positive and it gave me motivation to say, okay, again, I don’t know if that’s true or not. I only know what my business partner alleged to me and what I read on the internet and they were both the same thing.”
Khan claims this proves that the Connecticut-based company is “out to get him” and hurt his business partnerships. However, he also says it backfired as it led to the biggest year for growth in his company’s short history.
“So, following up on that, if that’s the case, I know they’re out there to get me, I know they’re out there to hurt AEW’s relationships with our business partners. If that’s the case allegedly and you know, it made me want to work that much harder to make AEW stronger and then that probably ended up being the biggest year for growth we’ve ever had.”
H/T to POST Wrestling for the above transcription