Planet Kayfabe: Crazy Khan’s Scrum
By: “KCA” Paul Matthews
Lewis County, Washington
June 3, 2022
Hello and welcome to Planet Kayfabe. So, how about the MJF promo? Yeah, I’ll get into that. I thought it was great, but what will the ripple effect be going forward? That is what I’m concerned about.
AEW’s Double or Nothing was last weekend. There was a lot of news circling around MJF’s status for the event given that it had been widely reported that he no-showed company events planned that weekend. The event happened, he showed up, put over Wardlow. All is right. The event went on. There was a tournament that I guess we are supposed to care about because Owen Hart’s name is on it and we have a new AEW World Champion. Another 40-something year old ex-WWE guy in CM Punk.
Afterward, there was a media scrum where Tony Khan and various AEW wrestlers took questions from the “press”. I put “press” in quotes because if you watch the fucking thing it was all pretty much questions by fans who happen to have podcasts or newsletters. Dave Meltzer is a legitimate reporter in the field, but he isn’t going to ask Tony a tough question like “hey, you know the Hardy Boyz are old and broken down and Jeff has a history of issues, yet you continue to put them out there like its 2001 and expect them to be the 2001 Hardyz, why is that?” No. They’re all questions like “Hey, tell me how you came up with this great idea that you had.” and “How happy are you with this great event you just put on?” and “Talk a little about that awesome match!” The winning locker room of the World Series team at home is a more hostile press environment than this place.
Tony Khan was something else at this media scrum. I have commented in the past about how at first in those early AEW days, Tony presented himself as a conservative, clean-cut, suit-wearing, mild-mannered businessman and the moment AEW got a new TV deal he’s been feeling his oats, living high on his own supply and thinking he can do no wrong and has this whole big-time promoter thing all figured out. Now you’d be lucky to see him with his facial hair trimmed. Now you get a wide-eyed, hyper, profane Tony Khan who rarely dresses up, even for official functions and never even bothers to comb his hair. This was no different at the DoN media scrum.
A fan…*cough* excuse me, reporter, asked probably the one someone tough question of the night and it was for CM Punk to respond to Eric Bischoff’s claim that CM Punk is the biggest financial flop in AEW’s history.
Tony Khan would cut off the response with his own response, exclaiming “fucking bullshit” and that was just the start. Tony got emotional. High voiced. Short on breath and passionate.
Khan would continue…
“This fucking guy, (Punk) he fucking did the Friday night war, he did the First Dance, he’s done the record Double or Nothing, he did the record All Out in his debut, he was a big part of the record Full Gear, great match with Eddie Kingston and fuckin’, he’s wrestled a bunch of young guys and veterans in between there, Will Hobbs and Daniel Garcia goddamn it.”
He finished with ” he’s the biggest part of the financial success of this company, Let’s fucking go!” while slamming his fists down.
First of all… The Friday Night War? What? That’s a thing? Apparently, Tony Khan thinks so. What he’s referring to is one night where Rampage loaded up a hot show to go head to head with Smackdown on FS1. Not even on Fox. Tony Khan would brag about “winning” the Friday Night War and how WWE’s lawyer, Jerry McDevitt said so in a legal report in California… Actually what McDevitt said, in the lawsuit with MLW, was WWE can’t be classified a monopoly because AEW exists and even beat WWE in the ratings once head-to-head. So, it was a smart move by WWE’s lawyer to point out another company’s victory, albeit a tiny one, when it benefitted the company he is representing in court. Apparently, that was the “Friday Night War”. Yep. You’re a regular war general, Tony, and these wrestlers are your little GI Joe dolls. Pew pew pew, a winner is you.
I could type out everything Tony said throughout this press conference, but the best thing to do is to listen to it yourself or even watch it. The reason why I’m writing about it is that none of the big-time legit “reporters” that pretend to be his friend at these events are talking about it…. and why? Can you imagine the shit storm if Vince McMahon acted this way? Actually, you can because Vince did act this way in the early 2000s in interviews with Bob Costas and Armen Keteyian and people still sometimes bring up those incidents today.
In politics (I know… relax.) to keep someone fair with their tribalistic tendencies, as we see in wrestling I ask a Republican “well, what would you say if Biden did the same thing” or ask a Democrat “what would you say if Trump did the same thing” now I ask all these reporters in Tony’s back pocket and the AEW harcores on the internet, what would you say if Vince McMahon acted like that?
I know for a fact that if Vince or Hunter behaved the way Tony Khan did at that press conference, Dave Meltzer would be questioning their mental health. Assuming the stress of the job is getting to them and perhaps even saying its time for them to step down. Instead with Tony Khan not only is it not talked about at all, but all these reporters WERE THERE to witness him acting like some petulant teenage geek going on some profanity-laced rant. Tony went on and on and on and on. Then it was CM Punk of all people who had to stop him and move on to a different topic. It didn’t stop there. Tony would continue to be ranty and just overall weird all night. Ranting about nonsense, meaningless numbers, and stats to sound smart and fuck… If I hear Tony refer to one more thing that happens on his program as “one of the best things in history” I’m going to staple my fucking ballsack to the roof.
The “reporters” may have been laughing, but I wonder how the Turner executives feel seeing this? This is the owner of what is supposed to be considered a major wrestling company. Watch the video. At the last scrum, Samoa Joe looked embarrassed next to Tony Khan at times, but here CM Punk was physically cringing and bugging his eyes out at some of Tony’s remarks and overall behavior. Vince McMahon had his moments with the press, but what people ignore is all that crazy Vince stuff that happened after the Monday Night War was over. He became a billionaire. The company went public and he was a made man in the industry.
I remember fairly recently, Dave Meltzer said that if someone behaved like Vince did back then with Costas, he would have to step down and he wouldn’t be able to hide behind kayfabe. Well, here you got Tony Khan doing the same exact thing to the point where many are assuming he is on drugs and not a single word is spoken about it from all the big bad names in wrestling reporting who pride themselves on being real journalists, but when faced with a real story that happened right in front of their fucking faces not one person calls out Tony Khan on his behavior that is entirely inappropriate for the owner and lead booker of a major wrestling promotion in a public and official setting. Maybe Sean Ross Sapp wants to rub TK’s inner thigh. Oh, sorry. He was “hacked” right? Sure. Another story that the good old boys wrestling media club ignored.
That’s the true “fucking bullshit” to steal Khan’s phrase here. Yeah, I could go on all day once again about Tony Khan being some immature money mark who is just living out a boyhood fantasy with his live-action wrestling dolls, but I’ve done that before and I’m sure I will again. The fact that not one reporter said a damn thing to or about Tony and just sat there and laughed or stayed quiet is ridiculous because you know for a fact that if any executive in WWE acted this way, let alone the FUCKING OWNER HIMSELF, then its all anyone would be talking about coming out of the Double or Nothing event. I feel like years from now when we are talking about the rise and fall of AEW, everyone will be talking about how big-headed and ridiculous Tony Khan was in these public settings. Ya know, the same thing people said about Eric Bischoff when he was kicking Vince’s ass. The same thing Chris Jericho says Bischoff did who now says Tony Khan is the best boss he’s ever had. Shit, at least Bischoff legitimately had WCW position as the biggest promotion over the WWF for a bit and had reason to be cocky even though it would bite him on the ass. If you take anything from this piece today, it’s this. Years from now if AEW burns to the ground, everyone’s going to be talking about and analyzing Khan’s behavior at these pressers, and eventually, all the stories will come out. I mean, if this is how he acts with us watching, imagine how he is in private. At least Bischoff could contain himself when meeting with reporters and executives. All his reported cockiness were private conversations in the back.
Just so you know, I’m someone who has followed Meltzer for many years. I still follow his work. I have respect for the guy and I’ve put him over plenty of times in my own work, but I still listen to him and he can’t deny that he is soft on AEW, but the fact that he could have been the guy to comment on Tony Khan’s latest cringe-fest of a press conference is just straight up carrying the water for them and covering up any issues the company has to ensure the public ignores it and it never becomes a story. Why? Who knows. Tony wants to pretend all these reporters love him and I guess they are all willing to play along if it means they have full access to him, unlike WWE which carefully picks and chooses what media members have access to them and what they can talk about…. but, really… Tony Khan knows none of these guys are going to press him on anything or ever hit him with a tough question so why not pretend that he’s an open book? I’m sure when the moment comes that a reporter actually gets to him, then there will be more restrictions at these press conferences. Well, there was that one guy who asked Tony about the length of the show even though Tony had previously commented about how WWE shows are too long, yet AEW’s shows have progressively gotten longer and longer. I’m sure he won’t get called on for the Forbidden Door scrum.
As for MJF’s promo, it was great. Well delivered. However, I’m not really excited about where we go from here. MJF put Wardlow over, but everyone has already forgotten about it. MJF was the hottest heel in wrestling, but that promo kind of turned him babyface. The fans really started cheering when MJF referenced the constant influx of ex-WWE talent coming in with big contracts and getting big pushes right off the bat and many of which work very light schedules.
I got into that with my last column. Last year I said AEW was in danger of becoming TNA. Right now they are TNA. AEW is late 2000s TNA. They are pretty much neglecting their home-grown talent and taking the easy way out by mainly just featuring former WWE superstars on the program. Especially since Cody left, there is really nothing differentiating this company from WWE other than they say “shit” a lot in promos. Early on their mission statement was to “change the world” and what has changed? AEW had a different feel early on, but now there’s really not much different from Dynamite than there would be on WWE programming around 2005. Its not much different than what TNA was doing, shit, at least TNA had a different shaped ring to set the apart from WWE.
If the endgame of this MJF promo is Tony Khan becomes an on-screen character, I already hate it. Also, is Tony Khan going to be a heel? Another heel authority figure running a wrestling company on TV? Way to change the world by doing something that was considered new in 1997. If the plan is for Tony Khan to be the babyface here… good fucking luck with that after that promo.
The promo itself in a vacuum was great, but I’m not sure where it goes. No one is talking about Wardlow already. MJF was the best pure heel in wrestling that they managed to get cheered by burying the company that just a few short months ago was considered bullet-proof. Seriously, if you went on AEW television and buried this company in 2020 or ’21 you’d get nuclear heat. Now? Apparently, you get cheered. That should be a sign to Tony Khan that while the honeymoon lasted longer than expected, it is officially over.
You have my attention though, MJF. We’ll see where this goes. I hope it makes him a rich man and Tony Khan can get over his own ego and not let the guy walk into WWE as he did with Cody Rhodes because you’re not going to build this company on a happy-go-lucky middle-aged CM Punk and the hobbling Hardyz going out there getting knocked retarded every match (I guess, these ringside doctors are just there to watch the show even though Jeff was clearly out of it) and having a parade of surprise ex-WWE or NXT debuts for a cheap pop only to get lost in the shuffle 2 weeks later. Your two-time WON Booker of the Year, ladies and gentlemen.
Thanks again for reading, everyone. Oh, by the way, I’m not standing by Sasha Banks. Stop saying we have to. We don’t have to. I don’t have to. Fuck her. Do your job. That’s all I got to say about that.