Whether or not you're a fan of All Elite Wrestling, it's impossible not to give Tony Khan a world of credit.
After all, he came up with a product that people wanted to see, introduced a brand new audience to not only a world-class roster of performers, but also created the wrestling league to become even remotely competitive to WWE in over 20 years. Many have tried, many have spent money and claimed to have figured out to secret recipe... but only one person has succeeded.
So give TK all the credit he deserves and then some. He is truly a genius and someone that the wrestling world needs to pay attention to.
Just stop giving the guy a live mic.
This past weekend, AEW held a very successful All Out pay-per-view. And while it may not have come across as the greatest event the organization has given fans, there was more than enough exciting wrestling and storyline development to give even the most jaded fan their money's worth.
At the same time, the wrestling landscape has changed radically this summer. By exiting Vince McMahon and putting others in charge, WWE has become more current and is heading towards a level of popularity it hasn't experienced in years. The ratings story alone suggests that people are ready to give WWE another chance.
In AEW, while the in-ring product remains strong and the roster even stronger, there are challenges bubbling right below the surface. Right now, near the top of that list are talents who are sampling the "new" WWE and want in. Granted, that's going to be a big challenge to overcome, and it won't be easy for Tony.
Will that be frustrating? Absolutely. But the way to tackle that frustration is behind the scenes. Don't come back by publicly attacking WWE for their competitive business practices and suggestions they're poaching your talent. I'm not for a moment suggesting that isn't the case. What I am suggesting is... don't air your dirty laundry in public.
Not only do those comments about how much money you have and "you're not going to take that f*cking shit any more" come across as bush-league and petty, but it doesn't need to be aired in front of the public. You're angry - we get it - handle it like a professional and fight back. You'll be respected a lot more that.
Of course, TK is dealing with another big issue: infighting and a blatant lack of respect for AEW's owner by his own talents.
Now... we can talk all day long about the above content from CM Punk's press conference remarks: whether they were unprofessional; whether the comments were fair game; heck, even whether his comments were all a work (for my two cents, I don't think they were). Punk said what he said, speaking out against Colt Cabana, Adam Page and (presumably) Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks.
There is definitely drama behind the scenes, and the person who should be resolving this (again, behind the scenes) is Tony Khan. Instead, the owner of a professional wrestling company decided to let one of his talents go into business for himself, nodding sympathetically in the background.
And guess what? If Punk is working all of us, Khan looks even worse - lying to his audience in an outside the ring setting and looking like a complete bitch in the process while his World Champion insults other talents.
This press conference is of course not the only time Khan has opened his mouth. Think of all the radio interviews, Tweets and media remarks where he takes things too far. Perhaps a public relations professional would help him figure out that less is more.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Tony promoting his product, celebrating his many successes, and sharing his overall strategy for the promotion. On it's own, that's fantastic. But coming across as childish and petty while letting his own talents do pretty much the exact same thing is not going to help him build his brand as a wrestling visionary.
For your own sake, Tony Khan, you just need to stop talking.