AEW President Tony Khan has revealed he was not a fan of the show that brought CM Punk back into the wrestling sphere in 2019 – WWE Backstage.
WWE Backstage was a FOX-produced panel show hosted by Renee Paquette where the week’s action was discussed by various former WWE Superstars and WWE Hall Of Famers.
In 2019, the show shocked the wrestling world when CM Punk was introduced onto a WWE-oriented show for the first time since he walked out on the company in 2014.
Speaking to Gavin Bridge at Monaco Streaming Film Festival, Tony Khan discussed the WWE Backstage format and says he was about as far from being a fan of it as possible for one particular reason – the lack of wrestling:
“I didn’t agree with [WWE] Backstage at all. I didn’t think it was a good format. I had actually been pitched to do a format like that with AEW and I refused because I don’t think wrestling fans want to see that format. Wrestling fans when they tune in to watch their wrestling show, they want to watch wrestlers wrestle and Backstage, to me, should be like a lower-budget streaming type show.”
“I don’t know if it had the legs to carry as a TV show, even though the people involved with it were awesome and a lot of them work for me now and are huge stars.”
I want to watch CM Punk wrestle. I want to watch Christian Cage wrestle. To me, that is the bread and butter. I love watching those guys talk about wrestling, don’t get me wrong, I think it would be a kick-ass streaming show, I don’t know if I would build one of my TV franchises around guys talking about wrestling. At least not in the context of analyzing it and breaking it down.”
Tony Khan then revealed that part of that format was pitched to him as an idea for what would become AEW Rampage but Khan dismissed it out of hand:
“For Rampage, it was part of the format that I turned down and refused to do. They said, ‘Would you do this as part of the third hour?’ And I said, ‘No, it’s going to be wrestling.’ I have a different format for it and that’s where Mark Henry (does interviews).”
“There is that talk show competent where they talk before they wrestle. That is a little bit of a twist on the format, but it’s not, ‘Let’s look back on the week in wrestling’ and have a cup of coffee together, which I think is not a good format for a TV show.”