AEW President Tony Khan spoke to Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated recently where he confirmed that the company is changing their stance on contracted talent having outside bookings due to concerns over COVID-19.
According to Khan, while they are not banning talent from taking outside bookings outright, they are implementing a policy in which it would be allowed under certain conditions.
“I implemented a policy where people were only supposed to work indie shows where certain conditions were met. There have been times where people did not take that seriously, so I have tightened up restrictions,” said Khan.
“I’ll still allow it under certain conditions, but people need to look me in the eye and say that the conditions are being met,” he added.
According to Khan, one of the major conditions is that their talent and the opponent they will be facing at the event need to be tested before the show. The AEW talent also needs to provide a “good reason why the match is important.”
“I’ve been flexible in the past because I thought it was good for the talent to have the opportunity to earn, as well as great for the fans and the indies as a whole,” said Khan.
“We also don’t run every night of the week, so it allows for talent to get extra reps, too. So we have a policy, and I’ll be enforcing it strictly,” he continued.
The most recent example of a talent being pulled from an AEW show due to COVID-19 exposure is Scorpio Sky. Another recent example is Joey Janela, who was pulled from the AEW World Champion Elimination Tournament after getting exposed during a GCW event. Both eventually tested negative for COVID-19.
Khan also spoke a little about the financial challenges that AEW has faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to him, while it has been difficult, they have been doing everything possible to ensure that they don’t need to lay off people.
“I’m really pleased that we haven’t done that,” he said. “We negotiated a great television contract that will keep us going and that made it possible for us to hang on in a time when there wasn’t a revenue stream of ticket sales.”
According to Khan, every company “has their own ways of dealing” with current events. AEW’s biggest competitor, WWE, garnered some criticism for having a massive round of layoffs back in April as part of the COVID-19 response.