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Tony Khan excited about nearly full-strength roster

AEW owner Tony Khan gestures to the crowd. (Photo Credit: AEW)

AEW proprietor Tony Khan gestures to the group. (Photograph Credit score: AEW)

A 12 months in the past, Tony Khan and AEW have been within the midst of a professional wrestling revolution. Positive, the corporate had been round since 2019, however final summer season Khan’s promotion was in a position to signal and debut three huge abilities — all wildly widespread with followers — in a matter of weeks.

The debuts of Adam Cole, Bryan Danielson and CM Punk ought to have represented the beginning of one of the vital thrilling occasions within the firm’s temporary historical past, unlocking myriad potential matchups most lovers had solely dreamed of. As a substitute, AEW was pressured to scramble considerably over the previous 10 months as a consequence of a number of well being points amongst its three new signings in addition to three of the corporate stalwarts in Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega.

“Wanting again at a 12 months with these wrestlers, it’s been the strangest factor due to the provision,” Khan advised Yahoo Sports activities. “We had the primary three champions within the historical past of AEW — Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega — after which we added these three stars in the summertime of final 12 months. Inside a few months, Omega, as a consequence of quite a lot of accidents, needed to step away in November. Moxley, for his private well being, needed to step away in November and proper after that, Jericho had a blood clot. Hastily we went from having these six big stars — on high of the expertise up and down the cardboard — to having our first three champions have to take time for his or her well being.”

The absence of three foundational stars pressured Khan to adapt, shortly crafting packages involving Cole, Danielson and Punk in opposition to different expertise in MJF, then-champion Adam “Hangman” Web page, and Orange Cassidy. As AEW continued to march alongside in the course of the first half of the 12 months, main as much as one of many corporations signature occasions, “Double or Nothing,” it appeared as if the roster had lastly turned a nook health-wise.

Though Omega, one in every of AEW’s govt vice presidents, was nonetheless recuperating, Jericho and Moxley returned in peak bodily kind and supplied an additional degree of star energy.

As soon as once more, nonetheless, the damage bug struck and AEW would lose newly topped champion Punk to a foot damage, Cole to a torn labrum and concussion, and Danielson to a concussion.

“We felt like issues have been actually clicking after which increase, we lose Adam Cole and Bryan Danielson on the identical night time to damage and CM Punk will get damage not lengthy after,” Khan stated. “All of it occurred within the matter of a few week. The summer season was approach completely different than what we had deliberate, however fortunately we had Jericho and Mox again.”

Complicating issues was the truth that Khan and AEW have been on the cusp of launching a completely new tentpole pay-per-view occasion, “Forbidden Door,” the place AEW expertise would compete in opposition to abroad stars from New Japan Professional Wrestling. Hastily, AEW wanted to crown a brand new, interim, world champion, setting the stage for a reinvigorated Moxley and Japanese wrestling legend Hiroshi Tanahashi to sq. off.

“I feel Forbidden Door was essentially the most difficult pay-per-view we’ve ever put collectively,” Khan stated. “Folks don’t know half of the tales in regards to the challenges. It was actually pushing and pulling to get the wrestlers from New Japan earlier than they have been initially scheduled to reach. New Japan labored with me and we obtained Will Ospreay and Tanahashi in a bit of sooner than deliberate. No person will know the complete plans, however I’ve publicly admitted there have been some actually cool matches that needed to change within the construct to Forbidden Door and that modified the remainder of the summer season.”

Moxley versus Tanahashi lived as much as the hype, with the previous AEW champion rising because the winner and primarily changing into the driving power behind the corporate for a summer season that unsure at finest.

It was a becoming, full-circle second for Moxley, who stepped away from the corporate final November to hunt therapy for an admitted alcohol dependancy.

CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 26: Jon Moxley in the ring during the AEW Dynamite - Beach Break taping on January 26, 2022, at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

CLEVELAND, OH – JANUARY 26: Jon Moxley within the ring in the course of the AEW Dynamite – Seaside Break taping on January 26, 2022, on the Wolstein Heart in Cleveland, OH. (Photograph by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire through Getty Pictures)

“[Since he’s been back] His thoughts is clearer, his physique is more healthy, he’s leaner, he’s extra enjoyable, he’s having a greater time,” Khan stated. “Jon’s at all times been an excellent skilled and nice to work with, however actually he’s been higher than ever since he obtained himself completely clear and sober. A complete breath of contemporary air since his return. It’s becoming that he had this nice run all through the summer season and is the AEW champion. He’s been one of many driving forces that has helped us beat this damage bug.”

The burden on Moxley and Jericho could be lifted because the summer season went on, as Danielson returned to motion in July after which Punk and Omega in August at two of AEW’s larger reveals, “Quake on the Lake” and “Home of the Dragon” — a direct tie-in to one of the vital coveted and profitable mental properties in leisure, requested by Warner Bros. Discovery, AEW and HBO’s father or mother firm.

“It was nice to get Danielson again on the finish of July after he had been gone for a number of months and he has been an enormous a part of the present since he returned,” Khan stated. “He had an excellent comeback match with Daniel Garcia — it was greater than an excellent match, I imagine it was a star-making bout for Garcia. We constructed one thing actually cool round ‘The American Dragon’ versus the ‘Dragon Slayer.’ It was a traditional and one in every of my favourite matches we ever had on Dynamite. I feel it confirmed that we are able to adapt and work to be a very good accomplice for Warner Bros. Discovery and promote their tasks.”

Now, this Sunday, AEW is holding its signature occasion, “All Out,” with as near a full-strength roster because it has had in a calendar 12 months. Moxley is ready to face Punk once more for the AEW World Championship and in what’s Khan’s most-anticipated match, Jericho in opposition to Danielson — Lionheart versus The American Dragon.

“I used to be sitting in an viewers sporting a Tazz shirt holding a Chris Jericho signal as a 13-year-old at Jericho’s final two matches in ECW,” Khan stated. “His second-to-last match in opposition to Sabu and his match the very subsequent night time in opposition to 2 Chilly Scorpio. When he got here again in this sort of situation [having lost 30-plus pounds], the place he regarded like Lionheart once more, it was very becoming for him to carry it again.”

CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 26: Chris Jericho is introduced during the AEW Dynamite - Beach Break taping on January 26, 2022, at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

CLEVELAND, OH – JANUARY 26: Chris Jericho is launched in the course of the AEW Dynamite – Seaside Break taping on January 26, 2022, on the Wolstein Heart in Cleveland, OH. (Photograph by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire through Getty Pictures)

Sunday’s card represents considerably of a reset for AEW and the beginning of a brand new season – hopefully for Khan, one which comes with fewer curveballs and fewer treacherous waters to navigate than the previous 12 months have supplied him.

“The purpose is to strike a steadiness between having comfortable followers, good tales and a cheerful locker room,” Khan stated. “I feel for essentially the most half we do have that. I feel the actually thrilling factor about All Out and this week for AEW is that we’re approaching a full-strength roster once more.

“It felt like final 12 months we kicked off a season — it was a wild, tumultuous, one — however we had a few of our biggest enterprise heights. It has been difficult however I do imagine this can wind up being one in every of our biggest pay-per-views.”

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