Ever since WWE announced this week's "Supersized" SmackDown would run head-to-head with the first 30 minutes of AEW Rampage, AEW president Tony Khan has been on the offensive with numerous interviews and announcements. In a new interview with The New York Post on Thursday he explained his strategy behind being combative against WWE, saying this week's live Rampage and Saturday night edition of AEW Dynamite could bring the young company a brand new audience.
"We can build a big audience for this weekend," Khan said. "We've never had anything like this before with three hours of live wrestling on TNT on a weekend other than a pay-per-view. There are a ton of things happening at this time of year, there's a lot of sports. There's a lot of competition outside of wrestling. So if we're going to start trying to directly head-to-head compete with each other at this time of year where there are all these other things happening in sports, let's go. I'm not the one who threw the gloves off, but if somebody has to do the talking and sell the fight I will be the one to do it. In this case, I am doing all the talking and all the selling of the fight. I do think we need to go back to an era where there is all this excitement about the shows. It's clearly built buzz because a lot of people are talking about it.
"We got a great opportunity to draw people on the weekend in a new position for us," he added. "Rampage has launched very recently and we've had this great run of Wednesdays where we've had six straight weeks as the No. 1 show on all of cable television on Wednesday. And now Dynamite is being moved to a relatively unfamiliar Saturday night time slot. Three hours of weekend wrestling is very different. I put together the Buy-In as a response, but that took some time. I wasn't able to do that right away. So I wanted to let people know the gloves are off."
Khan then pointed out that one of the reasons pro wrestling fell out of the spotlight for a while was due to the lack of competition after WWE acquired WCW and ECW in 2001.
"In wrestling, we're worth more against each other and we're better off against each other. I believe there is greater value in the wrestling market when we're fighting and people want to see competition in wrestling," he continued. "I think it's one of the reasons people lost interest in wrestling was because there was not true competition for 20 years. Now with AEW in the mix and competition back in wrestling, I think there are more people excited about wrestling than there have been in a long time with the free-agent movement and good shows. At the end of the day, it has to be good shows. Through the 90s there were a lot of great wrestling shows. Every week, every month there would be great stories and great matches and you couldn't miss it. I think it's starting to get that way again."