Tony Khan: WWE And AEW Probably Have Similar Free Agent Profiles Now

AEW president Tony Khan comments on WWE's regime change and says the two companies are probably looking for similar things in their search for talent now.

Former WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon retired on July 22. Nick Khan and Stephanie McMahon were subsequently named the co-CEOs, while Triple H became the head of creative on July 25. (He was later named WWE's Chief Content Officer.) Since then, WWE has brought back some of the talent released during the previous era, and fans continue to speculate whether the company will shift its mindset regarding talent acquisition, which somewhat shied away from independent wrestlers in recent years.

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Speaking with Ariel Helwani, Khan was asked to share his thoughts about the regime change and whether he thought it signaled a potentially bigger battle with WWE moving forward.

“Yeah, that kind of was how I felt. I definitely am always up for the challenge, and I think there have been elements that have seen a big improvement there, and I’ve been open to say that. I think there’s been a lot of improvements there. I definitely think for us, we’ve had a lot of big improvements too in recent weeks. I think we’re both very competitive and we’ve been very competitive in the past obviously. I think in this case now it’s hopefully gonna be good for everybody," Khan said.

The AEW president then described how he thinks, with this change in mind, there's more similarity regarding what the two companies are looking for in a free agent. He noted that, during WWE's previous regime, several wrestlers were released, and AEW benefited benefited by gaining these talents. Khan pointed out that some of these stars might not have been let go if the regime change happened sooner.

"There’s probably a bit more similarity in what we’re looking for in terms of the profile of a free agent, which I think is already gonna start being a thing. I think we’re looking at more similar people. There was definitely something happening this year, where there were wrestlers being released that came here, that I definitely believe belong on national television, worldwide television, that are huge stars in AEW. Some of those people I think would have made sense, and I don’t think, if there hasn’t been a switch in the person who makes that call, not sure many of those people would have been released. I think the benefit of that was for AEW because there’s some really good names, including some I’ve mentioned that have come over this year that we’re very fortunate to get. So there may be more similarity in some of the people we’re looking at, just based on what I’ve seen," Khan said.

Later in the interview, Khan described how, at one point, AEW Dark became a leading tryout system, both for AEW and WWE, as he stated that the latter was recruiting talent off the show.

"At one point, I think AEW Dark was the premiere tryout system in America, and we weren’t the only ones scouting. There are plenty of people who would tell you that WWE was recruiting off AEW Dark during the pandemic, and it would be, if anybody says that’s not true, whatever. You’re full of shit," he said.

When asked, Khan also stated that he has talked to Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. He shared his belief that they used to be friends before AEW started.

"I thought we were friends, actually. I think we used to be friends. I was not a competitor at all, I was a football owner. I haven’t seen them in a long time, but I wish them the best. They were really nice to me once upon a time as a football owner. It was a totally different time, but yeah, it’s been a long time," Khan said.

Khan previously stated that the WWE product has generally been better since Triple H took over, and he stated that this shift is good for wrestling. You can check out his comments here.

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