On Thursday, November 11th, All Elite Wrestling‘s Tony Khan engaged in a media call in which he answered several questions leading into Full Gear 2021. One of those questions pertained to Eddie Kingston ahead of his match with CM Punk. This past week, Kingston released a piece on the Player’s Tribune to which he poured his soul out, sharing both the personal and professional trials and tribulations of his life.
With Eddie Kingston’s recent Player’s Tribune article in which he poured his heart out, could you see back when he initially joined what his contributions to AEW and its locker room, would be now a year or so after he first joined?
Tony Khan: Yes, pretty quickly. I connected with Eddie Kingston immediately. He’s a very very close friend of mine and I didn’t know him until he came in. But I connected with him pretty quickly. And I tried to find a spot for him right away too. If you remember he debuted against Cody and it was a great match and it was when Cody was the TNT Champion. (This was when) Cody did the open challenge.
Cody came to me with a list of people when he wanted to do the open challenge, and there were a bunch of really good names on it. A lot of people on the list I didn’t end up wanting to use, and I had some names of my own. And two names that he wanted to work with that would have really been great were Ricky Starks and Eddie Kingston. I felt really strongly about them both after they had a match with him too, and they both did a great match with him.
In both cases, I had something for them. Now in Ricky’s case, it was right when they were in the ring. I knew I wanted to use both of these guys on Dynamite, and in the pandemic era with stars like this, don’t really come across your desk. So I wanted to hold on to them. Ricky, I knew immediately I was going to do the Team Taz thing with. I actually called (Jon) Mox at his house and told him that I had found the guy that I wanted to do this with.
He (Mox) really hadn’t seen Rico (Ricky), and I told him to trust me, and I brought Rico over, and he did. He said, ‘you’re totally right this is the guy to do that thing with’. Me (Mox) and Eddie go back a really long time.
Tony Khan discusses Eddie Kingston and his impact ahead of Full Gear
Eddie, I didn’t have that for. I knew I had to do something with this guy—what a massive talent. Cody and Eddie had such a great match. And I found the unique opportunity to do the Fyter Fest last year (2020), and Young Bucks and FTR were teaming, and it’s an unlikely partnership, and they teamed together against the Lucha Brothers and The Butcher and The Blade, which is also a unique team in an 8-man tag match at Fyter Fest 2020.
The Butcher and The Blade and The Lucha Brothers won. And I felt like I had to do something with that. They beat the Young Bucks and FTR; that’s a huge win. I really want to follow up on it, and I really want to use these guys (Lucha Bros). And I’ll be honest now and It’s a year and a half ago now and I was not as deep on the heel side. I really wanted to make a go of these guys. I decided then to bring Eddie back as their wrestler and a manager. And Eddie (Kingston) is such a huge fan of ‘Hot Stuff’ Eddie Gilbert. I’m a huge fan of Eddie Gilbert.
And I told Eddie this is your chance to be the Hot Stuff Eddie Gilbert in this stable. You are a wrestler, and you are a manager. And you’ll be the manager for these guys, and you’ll do a lot of the talking. And that’s where the connection with Eddie and, of course, the Lucha Brothers and the Butcher and The Blade began.
Then going into All-Out 2020, the build, if you remember, was kind of a unique heel/heel build. Some people say heel/heel doesn’t always work. I think one of the best examples was when I was a kid would be the Horsemen versus the Midnight Express. Arn (Anderson) & Tully (Blanchard) versus the Midnight Express which was a program that never really got going and it really could have. It would have drawn money, but then Arn and Tully were gone and became The Brainbusters. Well, that was a great program. And I always thought there was something to it.
So we did this where we had the heel/heel/heel situation there basically where it was Jake The Snake and Lance Archer, it was Team Taz with the aforementioned Starks and Brian Cage with Taz and it was the Eddie Kingston group. And it always looked like it was about to tee off between the three sides of heels and then Darby (Allin) would show up and Darby would have his thing with Team Taz. And it was so crazy and it was all set off leading to the Casino Battle Royal.
Well, I felt really strong and Eddie had just gotten to the company. And I had the last two guys out there between Lance Archer and Eddie Kingston and there was the disputed finish in the end. Which wasn’t even exactly the way Eddie went through the ropes and wasn’t exactly how we originally laid it out. But it worked out even better. And I had earmarked Eddie to wrestle Jon Moxley. That’s why I wanted him to be out there and him and Lance would be the last two guys.
They were the two guys I saw as great opponents for Jon. And then Lance, as Eddie said, you never expected anything to happen with us all being very careful a bubble, and then he went to the veterinarian, and then the next thing you know he had COVID. It worked out well because Lance and Jon Moxley eventually got to do their match and built a great rivalry, including the Texas Death Match.
In the moment, it was Eddie’s time. Eddie had this great match with Jon Moxley, and it really built something great. Then they had a real rivalry where we were able to do a pay-per-view story building to Full Gear last year (2020). And Jon Moxley versus Eddie Kingston was the main event of Full Gear last year for the World Title. And Eddie Kingston has been a huge part of the company. So that is yes, to your question.
Now there is a no. I knew the hardcore fans loved Eddie. And I had also seen that he had crossed over to a mainstream audience and that we could push onto national television as a main event wrestler. But I don’t want to undersell how far he has come this year, too, and also how far he has come outside of the ring. Because I knew Eddie had some struggles, but getting to know him more the past year, I’ve learned more and more about it and how far he’s come.
And the people who knew him before I did would tell me you wouldn’t believe how far Eddie’s come if you knew him back then. Yes and no, but as a wrestler, as soon as he got here, I’ve always believed in him. I’m not surprised at all how well he’s done, and I absolutely believed to put him in a pay-per-view in such a critical position in one of the biggest matches of the year in Eddie Kingston versus CM Punk.
To hear Tony Khan’s audio response to the question asked please click the link below.
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