Home Tony Khan’s odd comment about death threats was the highlight of a bad week

Tony Khan’s odd comment about death threats was the highlight of a bad week

Chris Graham
tony khan
Tony Khan. Photo: All Elite Wrestling

You know it’s been a bad week for AEW head honcho Tony Khan when you come across a headline about Khan saying in an interview that it’s “great” that he gets death threats, and that one barely gets any notice, considering all of the other stupid things he’s had to say the past few days.

Khan, not that far removed from putting on the biggest non-WWE pay-per-view ever, had already been having a rough go of it for a while, dating back to his decision to fire his top star, CM Punk, then claim it was because a backstage fight involving Punk and Jack Perry made him feel his “life was in danger.”

Attendance and ratings for AEW’s weekly “Dynamite,” “Rampage” and “Collision” TV shows have cratered since, leading us to this week’s ballyhooed head-to-head battle with WWE.

Chris Graham on Tony Khan, AEW

“Dynamite,” which normally airs on Wednesdays, had to move back a day because TBS had an NLDS playoff game on Wednesday, putting “Dynamite” head to head with WWE’s NXT, which bookers Paul Levesque and Shawn Michaels loaded up with a lineup of top WWE stars, including John Cena, The Undertaker, Paul Heyman and Cody Rhodes.

NXT, as expected, waxed “Dynamite” in the ratings battle, averaging 918,000 viewers for the two hours to the 609,000 average for “Dynamite,” which had an average of 731,000 viewers for its first quarter-hour, then cratered from there, finishing with 559,000 viewers for the main event with former WWE headliner Adam Copeland.

Khan, a two-time Wrestling Observer booker of the year, made some head-scratching moves with the ratings war show, losing more than 100,000 viewers from quarter-hour three through the fourth and fifth quarter-hours with a Wardlow squash match, a backstage segment with Chris Jericho and Jay White vs. Adam Page.

The White-Page match and a live MJF promo comprised the entirety of the 9-9:15 p.m. ET quarter-hour, setting up the MJF-White match for the AEW world title at the “Full Gear” pay-per-view next month.

Bad news there for Khan: that quarter-hour was the least-watch 15 minutes of the show, averaging a paltry 549,000 viewers, and it wasn’t because WWE had anything special going on with its NXT show at that moment – the 9-9:15 p.m. ET quarter-hour on NXT had Rhodes backstage, Baron Corbin backstage, and a Dominik Mysterio-Ilya Dragunov match with LA Knight as the guest referee.

The response to the can of whoop-ass that WWE opened up on Tuesday from Khan was comical, with him tweeting a message about how Cena and ‘Taker had never before been on a show that drew fewer than a million viewers, which, OK, fact check: true, but how that benefits Khan’s product is something known only to him.

Between this one, another in which he detailed how much he hates “WWE avatar accounts that spam me every day, no matter what I say or what it’s about,” the now-infamous “bald asshole” jab at Levesque and Michaels, and the reference to Vince McMahon’s legal problems, it’s getting hard to want to be associated as a fan with the AEW product.

And that’s before you get into the myriad issues with the product, which has not been the same really since Punk’s first backstage run-in a year ago with company executive vice presidents Matt and Nick Jackson and Kenny Omega that ended his second AEW title run before it began.

Khan’s current world champ, MJF, is one of the top two or three stars in all of U.S. wrestling, but Khan has had his world champ focus on defending the secondary Ring of Honor world tag team titles for the past several weeks, and the upcoming match with White at “Full Gear” is the latest reminder that Khan really doesn’t have a good dance partner for MJF with Punk out of the picture.

The abysmal rating for Copeland’s first TV match in AEW, meanwhile, is an awful way for the new supposed savior to get started in his new job.

Which gets to us to the line from Khan about death threats being “great.”

That came in an interview on the “Dan Le Batard Show” earlier this week. As is Khan’s custom, he loves to use the adjective “great” in answers about pretty much everything, including, oddly, death threats.

“To be honest, the rancor of sports fans is across all sports, and it’s something I’ve seen in football, in the NFL, you see it in football in the Premier League. For us, it’s a great thing that we have passionate fans that really care about AEW, that really get excited about the shows,” Khan told Le Batard.

Bad news for you there, Tony. You’re losing the “passionate fans that really care about AEW” left and right.

Which means, yes, fewer of those “great” death threats coming your way in the future.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].