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May 7, 2024 21 mins
Tony and Rick talk with AEW and Jacksonville Jaguars exec Tony Khan, on ESPN 1530!
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(00:00):
This is Sinci Shirts Cincy three sixtyAbout Cincinnati from Cincinnati, sponsored in part
by Cinci Shirts. Cincy Shirts AllCincy, all Day. This is ESPN
fifteen thirty, Cincinnati Sports Station.All right, welcome back our number two
since he three sixty. ESPN fifteenthirty, Cincinnati Sports Station and a service

(00:23):
of Cincy Shirts. Download the app, visit Cinci Shirts dot com or visit
any of their retail locations. Ifyou do, let your your your kid,
or your nephew or your grank whateveryou want to do, have them
draw something for their mom or apicture of their mom, take it into
CINTI Shirts and they can print itup right there for you. What better
Mother's Day gift than something personal inthat sense? As mentioned before, this

(00:44):
is ESPN fifteen thirty. We're CincinnatiSports Station and time to time, our
guy Rick Uchino comes through in abig way for us. He is doing
so now. Rick has tagged into join me for this segment and he's
introducing our guest right now. TonI appreciate the time, Yes, and
you know I appreciate you. Youlet me get our guest on. We're
two tone here, we got twoTony's yes. On the line here,

(01:06):
of course the great Tony Pike,greatest quarterback in the history of UC football,
And we are also now joined onthe line by the owner, CEO,
and President of All Elite Wrestling,Tony Khan, the star of the
NFL Draft. Sir, thank youso much for your time. How you
doing today. I'm doing very well. It's great to be on with you,

(01:26):
and it's an honor to beyond talkingaw wrestling and hopefully football with the
great Tony Pike. I'm a hugefan Tony. I appreciate that one.
How are you health wise? Howare you We saw you on draft night?
We saw you in the neck brace. Have you healed? Are you
feeling better since the NFL Draft.Well, I'm recovering. I'm really dealing

(01:46):
with coming off the most dangerous movein pro wrestling, the spike pile driver.
I'm not a wrestler, I'm anexecutive and it's a lot. I
have been recovering from that. Obviously. I was at in Jacksonville to the
NFL Draft and that's where I amnow and I'm doing better and can't wait

(02:07):
till I'll be able to go backon the road for the wrestling shows.
But there's worse places to be andthan Jacksonville, you know, great place
to be recovering. I really amvery fortunate to be in such a great
place as Jacksonville, Florida. Youare not going to be on the road
for AEW Dynamite, But the showdoes go on Tomorrow night live from Rogers
Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, airtime eight pm on TBS. A

(02:30):
lot of great action, my oneof my personal favorites, Adam Copland defending
his TNT championship against Brody King tomorrow. We'll we'll get to, you know,
the the wrestling side of things herein a little bit. I do
want to there's something I've always wantedto to ask you anytime we've had a
chance to converse in the past,and we've always been like really show focused.

(02:52):
Not to run down your entire resumehere, but you're the as I
said, the owner, operator,president, CEO, everything of All Elite
Wrestling and Ring of Honor, bythe way, so there's two separate promotions
there under the con umbrella. Butyou're also the senior president of Football and
Analytics for the Jacksonville Jaguars and directorof Football operations for Fulham FC over in
the Premier League. Man, howdo you balance everything? And when do

(03:15):
you sleep? I wish I gotmore time to sleep. But the truth
is, I'm very fortunate and blessedwith all the great things that I get
to do. I love the work, I love working in the Premier League,
and I love NFL football and everythingit entails. We do Saturday shows
now with AW on TNT, andwe're on every weekend on TNT, and

(03:39):
we're on every Wednesday night on TBS, just like Tomorrow Night Wednesday Night Dynamite
on TBS. And one thing that'schanged a little bit. I'm still doing
a ton of college football scouting,but I don't get to go on the
road on Saturday as much as Iused to. And I love everything I
get to do. It's a bigjuggle between the NFL, the Premier League

(04:00):
and the AEW wrestling, but it'sgreat. And you know, even coming
there to Cincinnati, I'm multitasked before, you know, been at Bearcatch game
scouting, working the phones, signingplayers from the Premier League and planning the
wrestling shows all at the same time. And you know, it's one of

(04:23):
my favorite things to do is getready for the NFL Draft, which we
just had, and it's a greattime of the year now is rookie mini
camp and bringing the new football playersin. But there's no offseason in professional
wrestling aew. We go fifty twoweeks a year, so that's a lot
different than what I'm doing in football. I'm sure you are very excited not

(04:44):
to have to play the Bengals inthe regular season this year because this Joe
Burrow come back tour is about tobe absolutely vicious. But the Jaguars have
had a very productive offseason, bringingin Eric Armstead, Gabe Davis, Ronald
Darby, a few others, JosephDagwara. You know, what were the
goals for the offseason to reshape thisroster to get back to the postseason this

(05:09):
year? And do you feel likeyou hit those goals? Yes, I
think we have a really strong roster. We've got a great coach, and
we have a lot of the thingsit takes to play winning football here in
Jacksonville. Now we have some really, really great players to build around.
We just extended our top pass rusher, Josh Allen, who set the franchise

(05:29):
record for sacks last year for theJaguars, and we've got some really exciting
draft picks coming in. I think, like you said, you know,
made some big moves in free agency, and we're building around a top young
quarterback in Trevor Lawrence. We reallybelieve in Trevor Lawrence, and I think
we've gotten better on both sides ofthe ball and special teams here and really

(05:49):
putting weapons around Trevor. I thinkwe had a great first round draft pick
and we were able to stack upmore picks for the future. So a
lot of really exciting things happen inhere now in Jacksonville, Tony. For
the wrestling fan that may not knowas much. You look at the NBA,
there's a developmental league. You lookat Major League Baseball, there is

(06:10):
the farm systems. You look inthe NFL, there's the practice squad where
you have a chance to constantly developthe talent or the younger players that you're
going to need for the future withAEW. Is there something like that in
place, or is there something thatcrosses from the sport to the sports entertainment
world in wrestling, to where youcan develop players or develop wrestlers to get

(06:34):
them ready for the main roster asit goes. Yeah, it's a great
question. We've had a series calledAW Dark on YouTube and when we got
more additional programming added to TNT andTBS, that meant the end of that
show. They asked us to stopdoing it and do all the AWTV on

(06:57):
TBS and TNT networks. And onething that worked out great is I acquired
another wrestling promotion. We just brieflymentioned it, Ringham Honor. I bought
that from Sinclair. It's a greatcompany with twenty years of history. It's
not as big of a company asAW, but it's an important company.
A lot of the biggest names haveledwrestled in Ringham Honor and had great careers

(07:19):
there. They had a great videolibrary, some valuable trademarks, and I've
relaunched the brand and some of thetop young stars come out of there.
You see big names that will cometo AW. It's also we have some
top veterans there working with the youngstars, so they're getting experienced competition and

(07:42):
learning from them and learning from thosematches and those experiences. So Ring of
Honor has some of that top youngtalent and AW is a top destination in
pro wrestling. We've built up thisgreat Challenger brand in aw and it to
destination now for fans and wrestlers fromall over the world. You know,

(08:03):
the show is on in over onehundred and fifty countries now. It's pretty
amazing. Yeah, piggybacking off that, you know, the roster for it's
an eclectic bunch, right Like youhave veterans Hall of famers like Adam Copeland,
Christian Cage, Brian Danielson. Ofcourse I got to bring up Cincinnati's
own John Moxley. But you dohave a bevy of young, hungry up

(08:26):
and comers. Who are some ofthose guys or girls frankly that you look
at now and go okay, yeah, they're going to be something really,
really special in a couple of years. Well, it's a great question.
I think we have some top youngmen and women here right now. In
terms of young stars, I thinkthat with the men, we have a

(08:46):
young wrestler named Hook. He's theson of the legendary Taz. He's a
top young star. I'm really impressedwith Hook and what he does, and
our fans all over the world lovehim already. He's from this We have
a young wrestler named Daniel Garcia whocontinues to impress in big matches in main
events, a rising star who hasarrived in AAW named will Osprey, who

(09:11):
I think is maybe the best wrestlerin the world. And the American fans
are still getting familiar with will Ospreybecause he spent most of his career in
Japan and the UK, which iswhere he's from. And we have some
of the top women's wrestlers here too, young really really prodigy named Billy Starks

(09:33):
who is from the area actually,and also Billy Starks, she is a
champion in Ring of Honor at theage of nineteen years old and really impressive.
And some great young women wrestling herenow, including young Anna j who
keeps getting better and Mariah May who, speaking of wrestlers from the UK,
has come over and done a fantasticjob for us in AAW. So we

(09:56):
have a great young roster here,a lot of young people I'm really press
buy. And also you mentioned someof the top veteran stars in the world,
some of the biggest names in wrestlinglike Brian Danielson, Samoa, Joe,
John Moxley, and many others includingyou mentioned Adam Copeland. He's going
to be wrestling a big championship matchversus Brody King tomorrow night on CBS.

(10:18):
On Wednesday Night Dynamite and getting tosee big stars like Adam Copeland every Wednesday
on TBS. That's why people loveAW Tony. I've been a lifelong wrestling
fan our guy, Rick Uchino.Here could a test that I have been
a diehard AW fan since you guysgot started. For listeners, for the

(10:39):
average fan that has dabbled in wrestlingor getting back into wrestling, I try
to explain in a sense that froman in match standpoint, AEW is incredible.
How would you explain the difference inwhat AW is bringing on a week
to week basis versus what other wrestlingcompanies may bring. Absolutely, I really
appreciate you giving me the opportunity,man. AW. We have what I

(11:03):
believe is the most exciting matches,and we have great stories happening, and
we're really a challenger brand. We'refighting against an establishment, and we've built
a huge fan base in a prettyquick time. People that love the fast
paced, exciting action and the interviews. You know, in AW, I

(11:26):
think people really feel a connection withthe wrestlers We don't script the interviews here.
People go out, they're talking aboutmaybe they got bullet points and key
pieces of information they're trying to getout, but it feels like you're hearing
a real person talk, which isn'talways the way it feels in some of
the competition interviews. I think that'sone major difference. And I think our

(11:50):
biggest strength is the quality of ourathletes and the charisma of our biggest stars.
Some of the biggest names in wrestling. I mentioned some of them already
are in AW and there's a reasonwhy these big free agents want to come
here to AW. It's because thisis where the best wrestle. One of

(12:11):
the best wrestlers in the world,in my opinion, is somebody we have
not yet seen get to compete inAW but that day is very quickly approaching.
Of course, I'm talking about MercedesMonette. I am absolutely thrilled to
get to see her do her thingonce again. You know, she's been
in the company for a while now, a lot of different TV appearances,

(12:35):
But how anxious are you and readyare you to see her finally in an
AW ring coming up here in acouple of weeks at your next big payer
view event. I'm so excited forMercedes Monette arriving in AW recently and I
cannot wait for her first match.She is one of the greatest champions in
wrestling. She won titles all overthe world and she is a great choice

(13:01):
to come in here and challenge forthe TBS Championship. We have a great
champion, Willow Nightingale, and thewinner of this match will be the face
of TBS, and I think whoeverwins that match at AW Double or Nothing,
We're going to have a great TBSchampion, and I know Mercedes Monette
is gunning for that title. Andit's a personal issue as well, because

(13:24):
Mercedes has been out for a year. In fact, by the time Double
or Nothing rolls around later this monthMemorial Day weekend, when Mercedes debuts in
AAW, she will have been outof the ring for over one year and
it's from injuries she sustained wrestling againstWillow Nightingale and New Japan Pro Wrestling.
So I think Mercedes has a lotto be a lot to be focused on

(13:50):
here and I can't wait for thedebut of Mercedes Monette. She's one of
the biggest stars in wrestling. We'revery fortunate to have her in AW and
she's going to be great for us, Tony. How important this industry,
you know, Because there's one thingto be a part of something or have
your hand in something, there's anotherpoint to lead in an industry. And

(14:11):
the times I've seen AAW and Cincinnati, you're there and you're speaking to the
crowd, and you are you're exudingthe energy and the passion. How much
of this is what you've grown upand you love to be a part of
versus it's your job. Very rarelydo those things get to be intertwined.
To have such passion about something youlove and it also be your job.

(14:31):
How exciting, just personally, howexciting is this for you to be able
to get to so many events,to see so many venues, to speak
to so many crowds and see agreat product. What a great question,
sir. I love prow wrestling verymuch, and it's a dream come true
whenever I can go to a greatcity, great city like Cincinnati, be

(14:52):
in a great town like Cincinnati orLouisville, and address the fans and watch
great wrestling and bring the wrestling tothe fan, and to want it It's
my favorite thing in the world.And when we launched AW, this was
the dream and we're living it,and I consider myself super fortunate every single
day that we've been able to createAW and make it happen and bring the

(15:16):
wrestling to the fans on TBS everyWednesday night. It's insane, and now
we've expanded we have TNT on theweekends too. It's awesome and I never
take it for granted. Tomorrow nightand all this week we're doing shows in
Canada. They've got great fans upthere. I'm really excited about what we're
doing. Of course, with mebeing injured, it would be easy to

(15:39):
lose some of the love for theprofession, but frankly, I love this
sport so much and that's why Ido it for love of the game,
and that's why I wanted to workthrough the NFL Draft in the next brace,
because that's really important to me too. And I love working in football,
I love working in wrestling and feelvery blessed to be able to do

(16:00):
those things now. Tony. Yousaid fairly recently that it would be highly
unlikely that AW fans would ever seeyou personally get in the ring, but
now that members of your own roster, your own EVPs Matthew and Nicholas Jackson,
as well as Jack Perry have punchedyou with a microphone and spiked your

(16:22):
head into the canvas. Starline maydictate here down the line for TK to
throw down personally, Have you givenany additional thought to getting some reps in
the ring? I know you've gotsome really talented guys who could show you
some things and wrestling either Matthew,Nicholas or Jack Perry down the line.
Well, ADW is where the bestwrestle, and we mean that, and

(16:47):
that's why I want to make surethat the fans get the best matches,
the best action. And in thiscase, I'm not the best person to
pay those people back. I thinkthere are a lot of things I'm good
at behind the scenes, but somebodyelse is going to have to go avenge
what those guys did, not onlyto me, but to Kenny Omega.

(17:11):
And Kenny Omega actually has a bigannouncement tomorrow night on the show that'll be
important, and I think that willbe of great interest to the elite.
Of course, last week, KennyOmega returned to AW and his former best
friends the Young Bucks put him onthe shelf. It's tried to send him
away permanently this time, but theydid not succeed. And we'll have an

(17:33):
announcement from Kenny Omega tomorrow. AndI'm quite sure there are more capable wrestlers
than I am that can inflict someof that punishment on the Young Bucks and
Jack Perry and Okada the elite.Hey, don't undersell your abilities, all
right. If I was able toget in the ring and actually have a
match, I'm sure you could dothe same. Well, it's possible,

(17:57):
but I want to have great matchesAW and again, totally fair after what
happened to me last time. Idon't think I'd be making a smart move
trying that, but I do thinkwe are going to make smart moves in
AW and like I said, AWis where the best wrestle and I want
to keep it that way, Tony. Since I have known Rick Uccino,

(18:18):
he has been pounding the pavement toget pay per view to Cincinnati, to
get a pay per view event tothe city of Cincinnati, the wrestling fan
base here, the history of wrestlingin Cincinnati is that something that becomes a
priority or something that you guys havenoticed when you've come to Cincinnati, when
you've seen the crowds, to oneday, hopefully sometime soon, get a
pay per view back to Cincinnati.I do think it's a great idea.

(18:41):
Cincinnati's on a list of cities Ithink would be a great home for a
first time pay per view city.We could really do some special things there.
You got great fans in Cincinnati,and we have one of the greatest
stars in AW. Maybe the biggeststar in AW happens to be from Cincinnati
and a hometown hero. And whenJohn Moxley is one of your top stars,

(19:06):
I think it makes a lot ofsense for a wrestling company to do
a pay per view in Cincinnati.So eventually that's something I would love to
do. We kind of have thecalendar locked in for the rest of the
year, but I think it's definitelysomething to keep an eye on and it's
a great idea. I really appreciateyou bringing it up. I would love
to bring more big AW events toCincinnati. I'll make sure to keep bringing
it up and keep reminding you onany kind of you know, conference call

(19:29):
or anything I get to do withyou, Tony. It's always a pleasure
to get to chat with you.Thank you so much for spending some time
with us, and you know we'llwe'll keep pounding the table here. Makes
make sure people tune into Dynamite tomorrownight on TBS starting at eight o'clock.
Thank you so much, Tony,Thank you man. God bless you guys.
God bless you guys. Thank youso much. Asolutely there he is
Tony Kahn. Wow to tone.He brought the Lord into this, he

(19:52):
did. He brought the Lord.He brought him and Fernando Cruz have gifts
from God. Awesome stuff, man, what a chance, Rick, thank
you for setting that up anytime.Awesome to get a chance to talk to
Tony Kahan Austin. I was noticingwhile that interview was happening. Is it
like ten o'clock outside right now?It is very cow I was starting to

(20:15):
get concerned. Yeah, we've hada lot of severe weather. Yeah,
over the last fifteen or so minuteswhile you boys have been on the phone.
So everybody stay safe out there.Yeah. I was going to drive
home. I think I'm gonna gotake a nap in a studio. Had
the earthcam pulled up downtown Cincinnati.Looks wet, but moments ago there was

(20:36):
lightning everywhere you couldn't even see thecamera, and I believe that is now
moving north to where we are hereat Kenwood. So well, let's locked
in careful out there. There areadvanced risks of tornadoes this afternoon and this
evening. That's why we don't thinkthe Red Legs are gonna play, but
be prepared. There we go.All right, that was a second job

(20:56):
hour two, Tony Khn, RickUccino myself, that's Austen Elmore. Will
be back your talkbacks on CINCY threesixty A service of Cincy shirts on ESPN
fifteen thirty Cincinnati Sports Station. Nowyour chance, do win it That
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