Tony Khan created a world of speculation last week when he tweeted a new star will be making his debut this Wednesday on Dynamite.
The free-agent acquisition will face off against Isiah Kassidy in a qualifier for the Face of the Revolution ladder match, which takes place at next month’s Revolution pay-per-view, and Khan believes he will become an immediate fixture in AEW.
“It’s a huge signing for us,” says Khan, who is AEW’s CEO, general manager and head of creative. “I have created some debate about what it means to open the ‘Forbidden Door,’ and that’s what we are going to do on this show. The fans are going to get a great night of wrestling, and I hope everyone is surprised—and comes back for the matches this sets up.”
Khan is in the early stages of building pro wrestling’s newest empire. More than just unveiling a new signing, Wednesday’s surprise will capture the spirit of what Khan has always intended to create in AEW. There is an element of unpredictability embedded into the weekly Dynamite broadcast that is unlike any other show in the industry.
“I’m continually looking to improve the roster and bring in new stars and create fresh matchups, and that’s what you’re going to see this Wednesday,” Khan says. “We now have such a strong roster of wrestlers under contract that we can put fresh, exciting matches on Dynamite every Wednesday on TBS and Rampage [every Friday] on TNT.
“It’s going to be a big reveal on Dynamite. It sets up this week’s Rampage and puts a lot of irons in our fire. We have created an environment in AEW where people routinely expect great wrestling matches, and we have the wrestlers to live up to those high expectations.”
While a popular critique of AEW is that the roster is too crowded, Khan sees that as a positive. He is acquiring talent he believes will benefit the company in both the short and long term, and even when there are younger stars who have yet to have consistent television time (Lee Moriarty, Daniel Garcia and Wheeler Yuta all come to mind) a world of possibility still exists for them in the current landscape. That was on display last week on Dynamite when Bryan Danielson offered a proposition to Jon Moxley to start their own group, one that includes those three aforementioned rising stars, and overtake AEW.
“I was very impressed and thrilled with the excitement and the buzz of Danielson and Moxley in the ring together,” Khan says. “We’ve been building to that moment, and people are very interested in what Danielson had to say and Moxley’s reaction to it. When our fans respond, I’m always listening.”
Although the decibel level is turned up on-screen, the idea behind the story line of Danielson’s mentoring younger talent is one that first occurred backstage.
“Off-screen, Bryan is such a valuable resource,” Khan says. “I recently asked him and Jade Cargill, who is already starting an amazing run as our TBS champion, to work together. I think Bryan is the world’s greatest pro wrestler, and he has such valuable insight. Jade is incredibly driven, and Bryan’s been a great mentor to her so far.”
Dynamite also features “Hangman” Adam Page defending the AEW title against Lance Archer in a Texas Deathmatch. That was the same match format in which the monstrous Archer defeated Moxley last summer to win New Japan’s IWGP United States title, adding another layer to the idea that he could defeat Page and win the world title.
“This week will be a great showcase for AEW, especially the world title match,” Khan says. “‘Hangman’ Page has been through so much in a short amount of time as AEW champion, especially those two very long, very epic matches against Bryan Danielson. Now he’s facing Lance Archer in a match where he won the IWGP U.S. championship. He’s one of our most menacing wrestlers, and this should be a great world-title main event.”
The foundation of AEW programming is its in-ring commitment, but a key factor in the company’s swift rise is the ability to consistently surprise the fan base.
“There are going to be some great matches this week on Dynamite,” Khan says. “In addition to that, the element of surprise will give the fans that much more of a thrill.”
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Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.