MR. TITO: My Advice for Tony Khan to Help Him Salvage AEW

Right now, a grown-up needs to tell Tony Khan to PUT THE PHONE DOWN… Same thing that many try to tell former President Donald Trump, particularly as he’s posting things that can be added to his many indictments. On Tony’s end, he’s getting too defensive about his All Elite Wrestling (AEW) promotion and recent events, while also taking unnecessary potshots at WWE and its management team.

While past history does show some favoring of being aggressive towards your competitor, it can also blow up in your face. For example, Eric Bischoff revealing WWE taped spoilers during 1995-1996 was “cool and edgy” while revealing Mick Foley was winning the WWE Title during early 1999 was a mistake. Everything has a time and place… Tony Khan is still in the primitive years of being a wrestling promoter and AEW is almost 5 years old. His company is still young and Tony, himself, is still highly inexperienced.

Remember, Vince McMahon was cutting his teeth in the wrestling business for over 10 years before he could fully take over the WWF from his Dad. Eric Bischoff worked for years in the wrestling business before he became Executive Producer in 1993 and it took him 2 years to straighten WCW up as a company and took an additional year to get the roster and creative right. Many wrestlers turned promoters worked decades as worker and then another 5-10 years as an apprentice. Look at Triple H… It’s finally clicking after 3 decades of wrestling and over 10 years as a WWE excecutive backstage. WWE is on fire right now!

BUT, Tony Khan doesn’t have a good support system… Kenny Omega & the Young Bucks are his direct reporting Executive Vice Presidents and those guys are whom he is advising… Supposedly, the EVPs are to take advice from any of the wrestling veterans backstage, but they clearly don’t and have admitted as such in interviews. Bucks and Omega are active wrestlers themselves, and thus have their attention divided between how to get themselves over or getting other wrestlers over. Wrestlers have egos, so therefore, they’re getting themselves over. It seems like Papa Khan is OK with Tony’s AEW operation and is giving him freedom, as long as it makes a profit. Aside from the failing video game, which was expensive to make and has sold poorly, the company has mostly made money.

The real issue is protecting Tony from himself… To me, those tweets are “cries for help”. He’s losing it, mentally, as I believe he fully expected the AEW All In from Wembley to catapult him as the greatest promoter ever and to carry momentum for AEW for the rest of 2023 and into 2024. Instead, that may be the PEAK of AEW… Instead of hearing praises about AEW All In, we heard nothing but drama surrounding CM Punk. Then, Tony publicly fired Punk. Following this, attendance here in the United States has been poor lately with weaker attendance now showing up on the camera angles of AEW shows. Then, he just lost homegrown talent Jade Cargill to the WWE and she’s making an instant impact.

I believe Tony is losing it… He’s showing signs, to me, that he’s not sleeping well and is highly caffeinated to prop himself up… Or whatever he’s taking. Look, I’m not going to judge what anyone takes recreationally, but there are stories with him regularly partying with the boys. To me, Tony has become hyper aggressive during interviews and his tweets, while looking a big agitated during his personal appearances.

Furthermore, he’s trying to do too much and has over-exposed himself as the promoter. We should barely see him as AEW’s owner, but instead, we see too much of him. Instead of letting his wrestlers do the talking, he’s getting involved. Then, his social media posts are highly disturbing and presents a highly confusing picture of himself and AEW.

Put down the damn phone, Tony… Take a vacation…

Within the last 5 years, AEW probably grew too fast and created high expectations both of wrestling fans and AEW employees themselves. Creating a wrestling promotion is HARD to do from scratch and takes YEARS to build a roster full of wrestlers that a Cable/Satellite channel would want to feature. AEW did that in 6 months and started television in 9 months. Holy cow… But the passage of time hasn’t been kind to AEW and Tony and instead of learning from past mistakes of other promoters, he’s repeating them… Particularly mistakes of the past.

In short, here are the mistakes of Tony Khan since 2019:

(1) Unable to manage people, let’s heated situations fester until they blow up.

(2) Taking too much Creative responsibility onto his shoulders.

(3) Putting himself front and center, taking attention away from the talent.

(4) Hiring ex-WWE veterans and assuming they’ll draw (besides Jericho, Moxley, & Punk)

(5) Weak support system in place.

(6) Lack of prior experience in the wrestling business, leading to a weakness in problem solving or knowledge of the business.

Folks, there is a REASON why Cody Rhodes abruptly left during early 2022 to return as a wrestler away from being in an EVP for AEW. There is a reason why CM Punk couldn’t work out, even though signs during 2021 were that he was a great acquisition (then blew up during 2022 and 2023). But Jade Cargill leaving hurts. AEW made her into a star and pushed her from the ground up, yet WWE now gets to reap the benefits of her being an experienced performer. On top of that, I predict that MJF and Wardlow will take the WWE plunge as well unless Tony overpays both.

Things are getting worse with Tony appearing more on television and media events, while going ballistic on Social Media. He is completely exposing the business and placing all attention on him INSTEAD of his company or its talent. That’s when the downfall begins. Don’t believe me?

– With Dusty Rhodes as booker and also an active wrestler, NWA Mid Atlantic peaked but then it started to slide… While the acquisition of Bill Watts’s promotion and trying to expand through Texas is often blamed, I thought Dusty overpushing himself after the Dusty vs. Ric Flair feud peaked shoulders some blame. Doing things like trying to turn the Road Warriors heel to get sympathy onto himself was a bit much.

– World Championship Wrestling as the #1 company began to internally die during November 1996 when Eric Bischoff joined the NWO. All of a sudden, Eric began focusing on how to get his NWO character over rather than managing a company with highly paid ex-WWE stars. The end result was a 1997 year that had booking-on-the-fly and a completely botched StarrCade 1997 finish. If it weren’t for Bill Goldberg’s sudden rise, 1998’s decline would have occurred much sooner but Bischoff began hotshotting everything out of desperation anyway.

– I personally enjoyed Vince Russo‘s late 1999 run with WCW, as they finally pushed Bret Hart, Chris Benoit, and many other midcard stars correctly… Then, Russo was abruptly sent home during January 2000. While Russo came back to a tire fire during the late Spring of 2000, what hurt his second run was becoming an on-screen character and later making himself WCW World Champion. Had he just stayed in the background and let the talent execute his creative ideas, it may have been a better year for WCW during 2000. Instead, he became champion and Bash at the Beach 2000 incident happened. Russo would be much better with TNA later by being just a creative mind and not as much an on-screen character.

Dixie Carter got a taste of fame when appearing on-screen, and as time went on, her screentime increased. Wrestling fans soured on that and TNA began to go downhill by the late 2000s and really fell off during the early 2000s when she thought Hogan and Eric Bischoff could “save her”.

Vince McMahon was a great heel character during 1998, but the character became overplayed during 1999… But instead of getting less, we received more. Shane McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, and even Linda McMahon became regular on-screen characters featured on RAW and soon-to-be Smackdown. Hell, Wrestlemania 16 was marketed as a “McMahon in every corner” and that event wasn’t as well received as it could have been. For the past 20 years, we’ve seen a LOT of Stephanie, Vince, and Shane… Shane even tries to be an in-ring performer to overshadow the wrestlers.

Triple H became a backstage executive during the early 2010s, and his role overseeing talent increased during mid-2012 and with creative during late 2013. Yet, he couldn’t differentiate himself as a manager of talent versus trying to get his “COO” or in-ring worker over. He also had biases towards older friends, such as wanting Randy Orton and Batista to headline Wrestlemania 30. However, when Triple H backed off from the in-ring spotlight and pushing his COO character, became more enjoyable to wrestling fans. HHH cares about the talent that he’s developed and treats them as if he were their Dad. THAT is the successful Triple H that can thrive as a WWE manager, which is why he’s thriving through 2022-2023 and moving forward. He’s focused only on managing the company and hence he’ll be successful.

Tony Khan just needs to RELAX… While he has probably grown AEW faster than any other company on the planet, he may have caused his promotion to also peak faster than any other company. Yes, the Wembley Stadium event, whether it was 81,000 tickets sold or 72,000 people who actually attended, was a big success… But your company had other problems brewing before and after that event. Those are “trial and error” problems of any start-up company. AEW is still a brand new company that was started by inexperienced people. At least with TNA wrestling (now Impact), it was started by the Jarretts with lots of wrestling experience. Tony and his EVPs lacked experience to carry on a weekly television show and it has showed.

Get off the damn phone, mind your own business, and surround yourself with legitimate wrestling hands who can help you. Jim Ross, Adam Copeland, Christian, Mark Henry, Big Show, Tony Shiavone, Arn Anderson, Dean Malenko, Dustin Rhodes, and many other veterans are there in AEW to help Tony, yet he refuses to confer with them. Instead, he vaguely listens to the EVPs or takes on too many decisions by himself. Then, Tony shows immaturity by partying with the boys and posting like a teenager on Social Media.

What I worry is that a nervous breakdown occurs, or even worse… You never know these days with what happens with medications taken. Furthermore, if Warner Bros. Discovery sees Tony’s peculiar behavior and opts to cancel their TV deal with him, that could further drive him over the edge. Tony needs good friends to support him and attempt to take this “me vs. the world” burden off of his shoulders.

His promotion feels so much like the early 2010s version of TNA… Dixie Khan needs to mature a bit or you’ll be seeing some bad television contracts soon.

And until you regularly defeat the WWE in viewership, stick to worrying about your own problems. Taking unnecessary shots at Vince McMahon, Shawn Michaels, and Triple H is ridiculous. You have zero credibility to even call them out. You don’t need to know what a screw-up Vince McMahon is… We all know, but we don’t need to be reminded by someone who has their own version of erratic behavior. And right now, Shawn Michaels and Triple H are CRUSHING your promotion and should easily steal your precious “booker of the year” award from the rigged voting at the Observer Boyz’s house.

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