Tony Khan discussed this week’s Fight For the Fallen show, Taz bringing in the FTW Championship for Brian Cage and more in a new interview with PWInsider. You can check out a few highlights below:
On using Fight For the Fallen as a charity event: “Today is actually the one year anniversary of the inaugural Fight for the Fallen. Now we’re two days away from the second event. The world has changed a lot in a year. First and foremost, I think we’re trying to all address what’s happening with COVID, and with Coronavirus affecting everybody in America, and the way of life. I think I would really like to first, if it’s okay, plug our charity. I think you were really kind to do it at the beginning, but this year at aewfightforthefallen.com, it’s set up where you can put donations in. And last year, Fight for the Fallen we were trying to benefit victims of violent crimes. And this year, obviously, Corona is become the foremost issue in so many of our lives, and the way we have changed our daily routines. And it’s affected wrestling, just like every other industry and business and person in America. A year later, so much has changed, but there’s a lot of great things to be happy about and thankful for too. But I really appreciate you having me on, because it’s just a great opportunity for us to plug these charities. We’re trying to raise funds for Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund and for Feeding Northeast Florida, which are really, really important things right now with the virus hitting Florida so hard.”
On having to delay the AEW World Championship match to this week: “Yeah. We were always going to do Fight for the Fallen. I mean, Fight for the Fallen, today’s the one year anniversary and it’s going to be, I guess, a year and two days later, but this is the same week. I always wanted to do Fight for the Fallen and raise money for COVID. The card got shaken up a little bit and things have changed a little bit, but Jon Moxley and Brian Cage were originally going to be part of the two-day Fighter Fest that we had the last two weeks. It worked out, I think. We were able to have a great Fighter Fest over the past couple weeks. The issue between Jon and Brian is, I think, hotter than ever, so it worked out very well. Fight for the Fallen is a huge show for us. And I’m glad that we can do something to give back. That’s the idea of Fight for the Fallen is giving back.
“So, putting such a huge match on the card, I think it’s going to work out great, because, hopefully, it’ll drive a lot of awareness. I mean, obviously, I want to always do a good rating for the show, but also I think the first and foremost thing about Fight for the Fallen is if we can raise a lot of money for charity, which I think we can. Every little bit helps, so please if anybody out there would be willing to make a donation. Last year we gave proceeds from the Live Gate and we gave, I think, it was $125,000 to the Mayor’s Victim Assistance Fund of the victims of violent crimes locally here in Northeast Florida. This year, while that’s still a very pressing issue, this year it was something new that had attacked us, which is Coronavirus. So to deal with the response this year, Fight for the Fallen we’re doing things to benefit Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund and also Feeding Northeast Florida. You can donate to these causes on our website, aewfightforthefallen.com. We also established a T-shirt that’s sells at PWTees at prowrestlingtees.com, and it’s the top selling shirt at Pro Wrestling Tees by far the last few days, which is awesome, because all the profits are going to charity. And I think Pro Wrestling Tees, their end of it too, they’re going to donate to charity, which is awesome. So all the profits from both AEW and Pro Wrestling Tees will be going to these good causes and it’s a cool shirt, and it represents a great card. Brian Cage and Jon Moxley is a huge match. Taz really threw some gasoline under the issue, bringing the FTW title back. And that is another fun layer of the story.”
On bringing back the FTW Title: “Well, it was a few weeks ago. Taz told me he had it. And immediately, that’s when the idea struck me to do this. Then I asked him to bring it down and get it down here. And Taz’s son, Tyler, who is a great kid, traveled down with it and came down and got tested, and joined us in the bubble. Tyler brought it and then we had it. Taz presenting it to Brian was a really important part of the presentation. I think Taz and Brian, it was good that it wasn’t the first thing they did together, because they really had become associated. Brian was always supposed to debut in that casino ladder match, as soon as we got his diagnosis that he was going to be out until May. This thing had been planned for a long time for Brian to make the big intro, and make the big splash, and challenge Moxley. Brian and Taz, they’ve established a rapport on television. When Taz told me he still had the belt, it was a perfect thing to add to the story I thought. And so, a couple weeks ago, when it came up, I really jumped on it. Once I found out he had it, and we were able to use it, I wanted to make it a part of the story. I wouldn’t have done it without his blessing. I mean, he’s the one who told me he had it. So once he said he still had possession of it, and I checked, and we’re cleared to use it, then, at that point, I was like, “This is, to me, almost like a no brainer. It adds so much to the story, to the presentation of Brian. It’s so much credibility, the FTW title.” I grew up watching ECW, as you know, and that belt meant a lot. Even though it’s not a recognized championship, when it was defended, or when you saw it, it felt like it was part of the presentation of Taz as one of the top wrestlers in the sport. And I think it can be the same thing for Brian Cage. So I was really excited about it, as soon as Taz told me he still had that belt, and then when I realized that we could use it. It was a few weeks ago.”
On Sonny Kiss’ TNT Championship shot against Cody: “It shows how far Sonny’s come, because a year ago on Fight for the Fallen, Sonny was on the opening of the buy-in with the Librarian, Peter Avalon, and now to be wrestling Cody for the TNT championship, Sonny’s come a long way in a year, as a character, but also as a worker. Sonny’s gotten much better. Sonny’s wrestling is drastically better than it was a year ago in my opinion. I think Sonny being the tag team with Joey Janela has been really good for both of them. And that is a product of the pandemic. When we were doing shows down here and putting people in the crowd, I was trying different things, and it was a different roster early in the pandemic than it was before the pandemic. And I think we’re seeing that with other places now. I watched New Japan’s Dominion over the weekend, and it was a very different set of people and stories than it was before they shutdown. A lot changed and it was clearly they pivoted a lot of their contests, and if they didn’t, then they were just going to jump into a lot of abrupt stuff. I think they must have changed a lot of what they were thinking. I think it’s affected what everybody was going to do
“For me, going back to it… Over the past year, I mean, Sonny has come so far in the past year, as a wrestler, and the presentation. And I think the team with Joey has been a huge boost to both of them. It’s been a vehicle for both of them to be on Dynamite a little bit more. They had a great match with Brodie Lee and Colt Cabana. Sonny got involved in Joey’s match with Brodie Lee. And now Joey can be there to support Sonny in this TNT title match. It’s been good for them to get their ring time to get ready for this. They’ve had a great success on Dark, and it was really something that they got down here for the pandemic and I asked them to start doing tag matches on Dark, because it was a good chance to showcase both of them. They were primarily, early in the pandemic, being showcased on Dynamite more so as the audience people. But because they were here, and they were a big part of the roster that we had available to us, I wanted to find something for them that they could sink their teeth into, and that was that tag team. They’ve come a long way as a team and as individuals. I think it’s helped them both a lot. And so, for Sonny, I think it’s really cool that over the past year that Sonny’s earned this chance, and a very logical challenger for Cody. Cody and I sit together and put together the list of people to come in for these, and we talk them all through. This is one that there’s some he nominated, and I got very excited about. A good example of that would be Ricky Starks, where Cody brought the name in and was like, “Here’s a few guys. What do you think of these?” And that was the one I really liked was Ricky Starks. This is one where I listed a couple people and Cody was like, “Yes,” and he really liked that one. That’s a great idea with Sonny. For me, I think it’s going to be a really great match on the show, great card, and that’s one of the best stories on the show certainly is how far Sonny has come.”