The Khans of the wrestling world collided in May 2021 when Tony Khan slammed WWE President Nick Khan – but it was all in good faith, apparently.
Tony Khan can safely say he’s the only Khan in the wrestling world to have a working agreement with New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
It was reported in May 2021 that the acclaimed Japanese promotion, who is in an established working agreement with All Elite Wrestling, was in talks to begin working alongside WWE. This wasn’t the case at all, though, as Rocky Romero confirmed to Tony Khan himself that they were content in their relationship with AEW.
In a new interview with Ariel Helwani, the AEW CEO opened up on these rumours, as well as his captivating promo prior to the 28 May 2021 Dynamite where he slammed Nick Khan as a “con man”:
“Now think about that. Let’s add the context to that. When did I do that, and why did I do that? If I may, why did I do that? Well, I read online and every wrestling news site at the same time reported that New Japan was going to start working with WWE. I had active plans with New Japan. I had literally just reunited Roppongi Vice on Dark: Elevation, and then I had plans for Yuji Nagata to come in and challenge for the IWGP US Championship, and Mox, one of my biggest stars, is their US Champion.
So there’s some intersections, and we’re starting to, the ice is thawed. We’re working together at this point. I read this online, and I’m gonna ask straight out. I called and I asked [Rocky Romero], I said, ‘Rock, what’s going on? Is it true you guys are talking with them? And if so, do you still want to do all of the stuff? Do you wanna do Nagata/Mox? Is there a future in all this stuff?’
I’ve got a really good relationship with New Japan, and in particularly [Romero], who I would go to bat for as a human being. He has become the go-between me and Gedo, and we’ve built a really profitable trust between the three of us that say. I have all the respect in the world for Gedo and Rock, and I called him and said, ‘What’s up? He said, ‘No, we’re with you. There’s nothing to it. We wanna do this with you, and that’s how we’re gonna do’.”
Continuing, Tony Khan explained how he actually talked to Nick Khan regarding the promo, which was allegedly done purely to create hype for that night’s AEW Dynamite:
“Yeah [I have talked to him]. Not in-person. I don’t wanna get into it, if I may. I haven’t met him, but I have talked to him. I did tell him, that’s what it was.”
AEW and NJPW remain aligned to this day, going so far as to co-promote a pay-per-view together aptly-named Forbidden Door. Numerous other crossover opportunities have also lined up, including the likes of KENTA, Minoru Suzuki, and Jay White cropping up on AEW programming.