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AEW's Tony Khan Explains What Pro Wrestling Is All About
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 2 months ago on
February 23, 2024

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Tony Khan is the CEO, general manager, and booker for All Elite Wrestling.

He talks about what metrics determine success and praises the Fresno market.

A review of Cody Rhodes in Fresno last Sunday.


Tony Khan is the proverbial hype man.

He should be, considering he is the owner of All Elite Wrestling, the number-two American wrestling promotion. Give him the mic, and he will talk nonstop about where AEW is going and where it has been.

“Off the Bottom Rope” recently met up with Khan at the Super Bowl in Las Vegas. Khan was there for a live TV show, “Collision,” one of three that air on TNT or TBS.

Khan, 41, grew up a fan, known as a tape trader, in his youth.

“I love pro wrestling so much. It’s my favorite medium. I grew up loving it, and it’s clicked with me. I love that it’s a sport that has so much behind it. Character, story, and personalities that are merit-based. And, the biggest stars in wrestling are the people that clicked with the fans. There’s nothing like a big wrestling match and a big wrestling rivalry. So I love it, and I’ve just been drawn to it for so much of my life,” Khan said.

Khan’s father, Shahid, is an immigrant from Pakistan who became a billionaire manufacturing vehicle bumpers. Shahid owns the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL, Fulham F.C. of the Premiere League, and half of AEW.

With the Jaguars, Tony Khan is in charge of analytics.

Fans: The Ultimate Metric

There are several ways to determine the health of a wrestling promotion. Ratings and attendance are the two easiest to measure.

“The most important metrics are keeping our TV networks happy and, the fans, because the fans, most of all, their opinion is what matters. The fans are the ultimate compass in pro wrestling,” Khan said.

AEW’s flagship show, “Dynamite” airs Wednesdays on TBS at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The show averages more than 800,000 viewers a week.

Khan says it often outdraws the NBA.

“The NBA is a very established league and ESPN is a very established network. So AEW, a league that’s been around for less than five years and beat the NBA straight up several weeks in a row, is pretty powerful. Our ratings are really strong,” Khan said.

Khan remains proud of the 80,000-plus fans AEW drew last year to an event at Wembley Stadium in London. Depending on what number you are willing to accept, it claims to be the highest-attended show in wrestling history.

WWE has claimed a six-figure attendance for WrestleMania — and for a long time 93,000 fans for WrestleMania III (Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant) in 1987. Both those numbers were deemed semi-fictional.

Khan not only heads up the business end of AEW but also the creative end. He is known as the “booker” or storyline writer.

“The fans (are the biggest influence),” Khan said. (I) try to listen to feedback and … what’s working and what they want to see more of.”

He said he’s changed the storylines many times because of fan feedback.

Khan Wants to Return to Fresno

Khan wants to return to Fresno, although no return date is set.

“Fresno that’s been a market where we’ve had great shows. And I want to come back to Fresno. We had a great event there earlier, brought Dynamite and Rampage there, and I want to come back. It’s a great city,” Khan said.

AEW drew about 5,000 fans, according to WrestleTix, to the Save Mart Center for a Jan. 18, 2023, TV taping.

The arena was set up for just about 5,000 fans, even though capacity at the arena is more than triple. AEW often books bigger arenas in cities, even though smaller arenas are available — such as Selland Arena in Fresno.

“It depends on the market and the time. A lot of times those arenas have a lot of big advantages like email lists and marketing, and they’re like, a destination venue for shows,” Khan said.

Media Rights Update

WWE made big news last month, signing a 10-year, $5 billion rights deal with Netflix for its flagship “Raw” program.

AEW’s deal with Warner Brothers Discovery expires at the end of the year. Khan said his company is in a “very good position.”

“It’s a really exciting time for the wrestling business. And with a company like AEW that’s done the kind of ratings we have, we’re going to be in great position.”

While the WWE has been doing great business as of late — it drew more than 9,000 fans for a show last Sunday in Fresno— it’s battling negative publicity.

A civil lawsuit filed by a former employee accused WWE head Vince McMahon of sexual harassment and trafficking. McMahon resigned as executive chairman of the board of TKO — the new parent company of WWE after McMahon sold a majority of the company.

“I can’t comment on the terrible allegations against WWE,” Khan said.

Cody Rhodes: Ultimate Babyface

The WWE came to Fresno last Sunday, and drew more than 9,000 fans according to WrestleTix. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer says it is the largest non-Madison Square Garden house show (non-televised) crowd since 2001.

I’ve been to several WWE shows and several in Fresno. This was the largest arena crowd and loudest I’ve ever been to.

The fans came to see Cody Rhodes, the main event babyface who headlines WrestleMania LX against Roman Reigns.

After the match, Rhodes addressed the crowd. First, he urged the fans to drive home safely in the rain. He spotted a fan holding up a sign that said “Blindness Can’t Stop Me from Seeing Cody Rhodes.”

Cody then entered the crowd to take a picture with the fan.

Cody stuck around at least 20 minutes — probably more, I left before he did — to take pictures with all the fans at ringside. At one point in wrestling history, top babyfaces could charge $10 a pop for Polaroid pictures. Cody gave his time and image for free.

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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