Tony Khan on TNT's Reaction to AEW Rampage Beating WWE SmackDown Head-to-Head

AEW wound up scoring a major win earlier this month when a live episode of AEW Rampage ran head-to-head with an extra 30 minutes of Friday Night SmackDown and beat WWE's flagship in the target ratings demographic. AEW president Tony Khan has already taken a few victory laps regarding the ratings win and in a recent interview with Busted Open Radio he explained how the higher-ups at TNT reacted to the news. 

"When we got the head-to-head competition, I thought, 'we need to respond, we need to win', and we did. I was surprised that the competition was going to be commercial-free. I wasn't able to go completely after talking with TNT, without them, but I was able to get it scheduled to where we could do Punk vs. Sydal commercial-free," Khan said (h/t Wrestling Inc.).

"But I thought it was even more impressive given that I was forced to take a couple break," he added. "It was really great of TNT to work with us, I thought, on short notice to push our breaks back, so we could have that match uninterrupted. To me, it's not up to us when the show is on. In this case, somebody moved aggressively into our timeslot and it was really important for us to do a good number and win the night. And we did. I really wanted to rally the fans and put some attention on it. I also really believed we were going to win, and we did. We've done really well in the demo, which is the thing advertisers and the TV networks use to rate the shows. I know TNT was over the moon and very excited about what we did."

He later talked about the challenges presented with running a weekly show in a late Friday night timeslot — "I know Friday night isn't always the easiest time to watch a wrestling show, especially 10 o'clock. But the fans have been turning out in different ways. There's a lot of ways to watch Rampage, whether you watch it at home on TV, or at a tablet, or at a bar, on their TV, or on your smartphone. Anybody, for the most part, with a phone these days can get the TNT App if you have cable or a streaming platform that subscribes to TNT, you can watch it on your phone on the TNT App. A lot of people tuned in on Friday to watch the show. I'm very gratified by the support. I haven't said much about it since we won, other than just thanking people for the support and some very brief celebration (tweets) as the numbers came in. Which is really, in this world, is really at the buzzer. The post buzzer celebration. Since the numbers came in, I really haven't' said much because I think those numbers speak for themselves. I'm just really proud that we won that head to head. We didn't make the choice to go head to head for 30 minutes against the competition, especially when they decided to do 30 minutes commercial-free. And they lost. I think it was great for us."