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Tony Khan on Second Anniversary of ‘Dynamite’: ‘We’re Further Than I’ve Ever Dreamed’

Even AEW’s owner is a bit surprised by where the promotion stands as it celebrates two years of its flagship television show.

In October 2019, All Elite Wrestling launched Dynamite.

The show has become the anchor of the entire company, highlighting a spectacularly exciting brand of pro wrestling on a weekly basis. It also serves as a timeline to track the history AEW, from the unbridled optimism of its debut, to the unknown of the pandemic (and scores of creativity, including different camera angles and using wrestlers as fans) and the abject sadness following the unexpected death of Brodie Lee. With Dynamite, AEW successfully fought off NXT in direct head-to-head competition on Wednesday nights, and overall, has injected a shot of adrenaline into pro wrestling, the kind that has not been felt in decades.

AEW owner Tony Khan initially envisioned a pro wrestling show that contained all of the industry’s most captivating qualities: established talent, new stars, compelling matches and unpredictability. Two years into Dynamite, Khan is thrilled with the early results.

“I knew there was a vacancy in the lives of a lot of wrestling fans,” Khan says. “For me personally, it had been a long time since I woke up on any particular day of the week and looked forward to a wrestling show. It had been a long time since I cared about who was the champion. I’m a big wrestling fan, and I thought that if I were feeling that way, then it could be representative about the way a lot of wrestling fans felt. So I wanted Dynamite to capture that excitement. My goal from the beginning remains the same now—I want wrestling fans to know they can count on us on Wednesday nights.”

The company’s growth—and perseverance—can be witnessed through a close look at the weekly Dynamite productions. Whether that was the dominance of Chris Jericho as the company’s inaugural champion, the organic rise of Dr. Britt Baker or the sublime meeting of Kenny Omega and Bryan Danielson on a Dynamite in Queens, the company’s trajectory can be seen clearly every Wednesday. Complemented by a stellar broadcast team, Dynamite continues to surpass expectations.

“I certainly had aspirations for AEW to hit certain heights, but we’re further than I’ve ever dreamed,” Khan says. “We’ve signed Bryan Danielson, CM Punk, Adam Cole and Sting all in a one-year period. We’ve added legendary names like Christian Cage and Matt Hardy, and stars of the present—Andrade El Idolo and Malakai Black—and the development of the women’s division, especially being joined by Ruby Soho and Thunder Rosa. We’re really proud of where we are after two years, and we’re so grateful that the roster worked so hard through the pandemic.”

This week’s Dynamite will take place at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, the city where Khan got his first in-person taste of Paul Heyman’s Extreme Championship Wrestling, and as he confirms, his life was never quite the same again.

“At that point in my life, I was transitioning between schools,” Khan says. “I was about to attend this great academic high school in Illinois, but I didn’t want to leave my friends from my old school. My parents really wanted me to have that opportunity, and they said if I went willingly and tried my hardest, they’d do something in return that meant a lot to me. So that was easy for me because I wanted to go to the ECW Arena.

“I’d been trading tapes for over a year and a half, and I was 13 when I went to the ECW Arena. I made so many great friends there, including people I still keep in touch with. So for us to celebrate our two-year anniversary in one of the greatest wrestling cities in the world in Philadelphia, with such a stacked card, that means a lot.”

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On the subject of great cards, Khan’s AEW roster will have a lot to live up to in Philly, which is where he saw Chris Jericho against Sabu, as well as Sabu against Rob Van Dam.

“I saw Chris Jericho’s last two matches in the promotion,” Khan says. “Friday night was Jericho versus Sabu, which was a dream match, and Saturday was Jericho–Too Cold Scorpio. There was also Sabu versus Van Dam in a stretcher match, which I think is the match when the ECW Arena crowd bought into Rob Van Dam for the first time. Rob Van Dam won a lot of people over that night. I’d never felt so much at home as I did that night, and there is something so special about this city. I’m so proud to return to Philadelphia for our two-year anniversary show.”

Wednesday night’s card for Dynamite should be special in its own right, led by the opening match: an eight-man tag pitting Kenny Omega, the Young Bucks and Adam Cole against Bryan Danielson, the Jurassic Express and Christian Cage.

“That’s the match I plan to open with, which I am going to do everything in my power to present without commercials,” Khan says. “And since the arrival of Bryan Danielson and Adam Cole, the lines have been drawn. It’s going to be special.”

Dynamite also includes Hikaru Shida seeking her 50th AEW victory in a match against Serena Deeb, as well as Sammy Guevara making his first title defense as TNT champion, opening the forbidden door to welcome former NXT/New Japan/Ring of Honor star Bobby Fish. There is also a Casino Ladder Match featuring a plethora of talent, with Jon Moxley, PAC, Andrade, Orange Cassidy, Lance Archer, Matt Hardy and a surprise entry.

“This entire card is a perfect representation of what AEW is about,” Khan says. “And we’re honored to celebrate the two-year anniversary of the show with the best wrestling fans in the world.”

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Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.