AEW fans are divided over the treatment of CM Punk and Thunder Rosa when giving up their respective championships – but Tony Khan doesn’t see what the problem is.
The use of interim AEW championships in 2022 has seen the World, Women’s World, and TNT Championships all given up temporarily, typically through the then-champion being out injured. Lately, CM Punk and Thunder Rosa have found themselves at the centre of an audience-dividing conversation.
Fans have lambasted AEW for treating the announcement of CM Punk’s injury as being more important compared to Thunder Rosa. Tony Khan has defended the way in which they were treated in the pre-All Out media call, citing ratings as a key factor:
“I strongly disagree with that. I very strongly disagree with that. I give the TV time based on what I believe is going to draw the most ratings. If you want my honest opinion on an eight-minute Thunder Rosa promo vs. an eight-minute CM Punk promo, then you’re going to get an honest answer. I think the eight-minute CM Punk promo is probably going to do a better rating.
As far as match length, I think Thunder Rosa has had some great matches as champion and to come out and do a live eight-minute promo, I’m not sure that would have been good for the television show, to be honest. Especially given where we were at with Thunder Rosa, I found out she was injured a few hours before a live television show, I don’t really have time to put an eight-minute promo in when I had just a couple hours notice vs. CM Punk, I knew days earlier he was badly hurt and we had already made a plan days earlier.”
Tony Khan elaborated, alleging that fans picked an issue with every move he’s made with interim AEW championships:
“Furthermore, a lot of people criticized the way Jon [Moxley] got his match with [Hiroshi] Tanahashi, so I guess you can’t please everybody, no matter what you do, and I’ve actually seen more people excited about the four-way match than they were for the original match and I think the four-way is one of the more anticipated matches on the card and I’ve seen people way more excited about that than, honestly, in some cases, the way we go through the Casino Battle Royale match.
I noticed people complained when Kyle [O’Reilly] got that opportunity. Jon vs. Kyle is one of my personal favourite TV matches. There were people criticizing that. I’ve seen less people, although there may be some, criticizing how we got to this. You can’t necessarily please everybody, but I do think in this case, it’s been positive given the situation we were in.”
The interim AEW World Championship saw Jon Moxley defeat New Japan’s Hiroshi Tanahashi at Forbidden Door to lift the title. He’s since defeated CM Punk to become the undisputed champion, with a rematch scheduled for All Out.
The AEW Women’s World Championship, meanwhile, will see an interim champion crowned at the aforementioned pay-per-view, with a four-way scheduled between Britt Baker, Hikaru Shida, Toni Storm, and Jamie Hayter. It’s unknown when Thunder Rosa will return.