AEW President Tony Khan has admitted that he has taken inspiration from WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon while trying to establish All Elite Wrestling.
With AEW riding the crest of a CM Punk-shaped wave, with maybe more new arrivals to come, Khan appeared on Le Batard and Friends – South Beach Sessions to discuss his journey with AEW and his thoughts on WWE.
When asked whether he believes Vince McMahon cares about his product, Khan was unequivocal in his response. Not only that, Khan went on to say he was inspired by the WWE Chairman, especially as they both tried to establish their company’s at a similar age.
“He does care. I read a lot of books about Vince. I’ve never met Vince. There was a time when he was building his company in the ’80s. I’ve tried to undertake a similar amount of work, in terms of shouldering a ton of responsibility and taking a ton of one-on one-meetings. You hear about Vince going to convince Hulk Hogan, going to convince individual people to come in and work for the WWF, convincing a sponsor to come on. Vince was taking all these meetings and all this responsibility, and he was a similar age to me, and I think I’m inspired by that.”
Khan went on to say that he drew inspiration from how McMahon built WWE in the 1980’s, but also acknowledged that he has tried to do things differently.
“I’m trying to do it a very different way, and I’m not trying to run all the other wrestling companies out of business. I’m not trying to take out every regional wrestling company, and eat their lunch and put them out of business. I don’t think that makes sense. He took a very different approach, and it worked for him really well, but he was all over the place, and [took] tons of meetings and he made lots of deals. And I’ve tried to do that over the past three years.”
Khan discussed the differences between AEW and WWE’s former competition WCW, adding that he has a lot of respect for Eric Bischoff and the work he did with the company.
“The amount of people I’ve gone out and convinced to join AEW, signed, built relationships with that I now have under the umbrella of this company and so I tried to take a lot of inspiration from what Vince did in the ’80s building the wrestling empire and expanding it because I think that’s probably the last time anybody expanded as much as we have, and I put an asterisk on that because WCW under Eric [Bischoff] did expand a lot from a money-losing business into a business grossing hundreds of millions of dollars, but it’s still a little bit different than us where we weren’t a business at all and came from scratch. But I have to give Eric and WCW a ton of credit too. Basically, for me, I have a ton of respect for the way that company was built, and that’s why I don’t want to go out of my way to trash it.”
Khan’s most eye-catching AEW signing to date is undoubtedly CM Punk. After Punk made his debut with the company on AEW Rampage, Khan sat down with the media alongside his newest acquisition. Addressing the media, Khan described Punk’s deal as a “full-time and we’re very excited’ type of thing.”
H/t to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.