My pro wrestling fandom was going nowhere in 2019 when AEW was created. It was hanging by a literal thread. New Japan Pro Wrestling was cooling off for me, and I was in a place in my mental health where if something didn’t work, I would give up wrestling.
I love pro wrestling as a medium. Since the age of eight years old, I thought pro wrestling ruled. So much so that I wanted a voice about it. I had my opinions, I became an expert, I watched everything, and I became obsessed. Whether it was New Japan, Impact, WWE, Indies, or any other promotion, I really love wrestling. I went to college and said I really want to do a pro wrestling show because my passion was that deep.
That’s when I became involved with great sites like Voices of Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Only, Wrestling Observer, and others. These sites were the think tanks, they were the tastemakers I wanted to impress. I even filled out a Greatest Wrestler Ever ballot in 2016 and will do so again in 2026.
Pro wrestling content was everything to me, and I did it for the love of the business first and foremost, but then I got consumed with something else. And that aspect of content creation was what eventually almost killed my fandom.
With content to make about wrestling, I always had to have a take, star rating or an opinion on every facet, angle, and match on wrestling, and that is the truly exhausting part of wrestling content making. Sure, hitting the record button and talking for two hours is easy, but having unique takes on hot-button issues in the wrestling world is what almost killed me.
You have to be a certain breed to do wrestling content creation. I, who have been doing it for almost ten years, found out I wasn’t the breed to do it. It’s nothing personal towards the people that do it, I consume a lot of wrestling content, too much.
So in 2019, I was almost done. I was almost done with everything. Life in general, if wrestling didn’t work out, podcasting didn’t work out, time was just going to run out. AEW bought me time to have my epiphany. I watched AEW’s debut press conference. The very first one I was astonished by was how wrestling should be presented. I was like a kid watching it again.
The press conference had all my favorite wrestlers. Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, Chris Jericho, it also introduced new stars like Sonny Kiss, Lucha Brothers, Hangman Page and others. I knew right then and there by how the press conference was presented that I would be a watcher of this.
Then the first Double or Nothing happened. I didn’t have money then, so I watched it in a very murky way, the only AEW pay-per-view I would ever do that with. Double or Nothing 2019 sold me on the concept of AEW. Sold me on the concept of pro wrestling as an art form. Sold me on pro wrestling as a concept in life. May 25, 2019, bought me time. Bought me the time I needed.
I watched Dynamite every week, I watched every AEW event. I attended every Philly show, where I’m from, by the way. Even when I was hospitalized in mental hospitals, I would try to put on AEW in common areas because AEW was my life. I lived and breathed AEW because it sold me on the concept of pro wrestling, and it bought me time.
Tony Khan doesn’t present his wrestling like any other promoter. He takes elements from the classics and combines them with modern-day workrate to make something really special. I love the booking patterns of TK and the freedom he gives his workers. That’s something the promotion “up north” would not do. It’s so frantic, it plays on my mental illness in such a beautiful way.
Time is a very broad concept. I was playing the character in 2019, at that point, for 11 years. The wrestling content creation consumed me. I couldn’t get out of the hole. Getting out of the hole took another four years of struggling and more trauma. But I tamed the trauma so I could succeed.
Recently I had my breakthrough. I told people in my life that content creation was my addiction. I had to live my life through an audience. Bo Burnham is someone I relate to very well because he has a very similar relationship with his audience as I have with my audience. The only difference is my audience is a lot smaller than his.
Back to the AEW, I got to the redemption too sooner than I wanted to, but that’s okay. At least you know this is a happy ending.
I would watch AEW for four years, every week, and be very committed. AEW is one of the few things that I could be authentic with. I could be alone watching AEW. And be authentic in doing it. The authenticity came out even when creating content like watch parties because I love AEW so much that it bled into my content. My watch parties for AEW are the best things I ever did because I could not hide the authenticity.
This promotion exists in my mind solely to serve my inner child. I know that’s not the reason. But I can be selfish for a minute. TK has never met me, chances are never will, But I can express my gratitude for his promotion through this article. I want this promotion to succeed.
This promotion has given me so much over the past four years that I love it. AEW has helped me grow and learn something, and now I realize there was a 12-year-old boy hidden within me for 15 years. He’s out again, and AEW is as much responsible for it as anyone else.
Authenticity is something I hid very easily until very recently. My breakthrough is here, but my work never stops. I have to keep maintenance. I have a support team and people around me that work for me. Tony Khan, if you ever see this article, I want to thank you for creating AEW. Your vision of wrestling made a boy from Pennsylvania, suburban Philadelphia, come out of his shell. This might be the last piece of wrestling content I ever do. I’m satisfied with that. Because this is authentic. I poured my authenticity into this. Every other piece of content I ever did, with the slight exception of this piece, was part of a character.
The people that know me are very proud of me for having this breakthrough. AEW has saved my fandom.
Thank you, Tony Khan.