Tony Khan and Vince McMahon are the figureheads of the two biggest wrestling companies in the world in WWE and AEW. That was, of course, until Triple H took over as Head of Creative when a hush money scandal forced Vince into early retirement.
Before that, however, Vince ruled the roost in WWE for almost four decades. Tony Khan might be several decades younger, but he's managed to create a viable wrestling alternative within three years of All Elite Wrestling's existence.
As bosses, Tony Khan and Vince McMahon seem completely different, at least on the surface. Other than their age, the AEW boss appears much more in-tune with what his fans want to see, while the 76-year-old former WWE Chairman's ideas feel antiquated. It also helps that Khan seems much more personable and accessible compared to Vince, who carries an intimidating personality.
Ringside News, however, has reported that Tony Khan's behavior backstage is becoming an increasing issue, drawing comparisons to McMahon. They claim that Khan regularly oversteps boundaries when talking to commentary via headsets, which is a hallmark of Vince.
The report goes on to claim that those who have previously worked with Vince in WWE have said that Khan is much worse than McMahon ever was. Given the stress that comes with managing a major wrestling company, it could be inevitable that Tony starts inheriting a couple of character traits from the old man.
Here are three reasons why Tony Khan is similar to Vince McMahon and two reasons why he isn’t.
#3. Why Tony Khan and Vince McMahon are similar - Both want to have overall creative control of their product
It's clear that both Tony and Vince have had absolute creative control over their respective products. It's common knowledge that McMahon loved to micromanage his talent and nothing in WWE went through without his consent.
Similarly, Tony Khan has the final say over all the creative decisions in AEW. When the company first started, it wasn't clear who was in charge overall, as they also had EVPs in the Young Bucks, Kenny Omega and Cody Rhodes previously. But eventually, the creative control of The Elite diminished.
While AEW seems like a much more collaborative company who gives their wrestlers a degree of creative freedom, in the end, Tony will dictate what ends up on his television show, much like McMahon.
#2. Why Tony Khan isn't similar to Vince McMahon - Different wrestling philosophies
One stark contrast between the two bosses concerns their views on how to run a wrestling company. Their business philosophies are wholly different. Vince McMahon places a heavy emphasis on sports entertainment and tries to cater to the mainstream television audience with his product.
Meanwhile, Tony Khan focuses his programming on the in-ring aspect, targeting lapsed wrestling fans and the hardcore audience that WWE has driven away over the last decade.
While Vince loves to produce goofy backstage segments and leans into soap opera elements in his storylines, Tony prefers to let his wrestlers show off their talents inside the squared circle with less focus on drawn-out promos, unless of course you're CM Punk or MJF.
Matt Hardy recently sat down with Essentially Sports and discussed Tony Khan's mentality when it comes to running AEW:
"I feel like Tony has the mindset of a current wrestling fan in 2021. It's just a comfortable family environment where if you need to speak out or address something, you can. Everybody's comfortable at AEW. It really does feel like a very big family."
It's no secret that Vince wants his company to become an entertainment juggernaut like Disney, which might not be a hardcore wrestling fan's cup of tea.
It's not necessarily a bad thing, as it makes the product more accessible to the casual viewer. With Triple H in charge, we could see a change in this philosophy. But for now, Tony Khan's AEW feels more like a traditional wrestling show.
#2. Why Tony Khan and Vince McMahon are similar - Both men are ridiculously hardworking and passionate about their companies
Despite their many differences, one thing which is undeniable is that both Tony and Vince are known to be workaholics who are passionate about their respective products.
Matt Hardy further commented one similarity between his two bosses:
"I mean, they’re both ridiculously hard workers. You know, there’s no doubt about that," Matt Hardy said. "I mean, Vince, Vince works his a** off. I mean, no one can ever take that away from him. Tony does as well. And, then on top of just also running AEW, Tony has so many other responsibilities. He, you know, has stuff to do with the NFL, you know, Jacksonville Jaguars. You know, he hasn’t flown the football team over in the UK. So he has a lot, he has a lot of stuff going on."
Despite wearing multiple hats in various organizations, Khan's obvious love for pro wrestling sees him being really hands-on with AEW. His passion is infectious and the enthusiasm has rubbed off on the talents backstage to create a positive atmosphere for the most part.
Vince's life also revolved around the WWE even at 76 years old. If the scandal hadn't derailed his career, he probably would still be running the show from the Gorilla Position until he's no longer able to. Despite his many flaws, no one can downplay the passion McMahon has for the business.
#1. Why Tony Khan isn't similar to Vince McMahon - Vince purchased the company from his father while Tony and Shahid Khan co-founded AEW
Vince McMahon is a third-generation wrestling promoter. Both his father and grandfather ran wrestling companies in the New York territory, which the younger McMahon would work his way into and eventually take to the national stage. The business is in his blood, which explains his intense love for it.
AEW president Tony Khan hasn't talked much about his father Shad Khan's involvement with the company. He co-owns All Elite Wrestling alongside his father, as well as the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL and Fulham FC in the English Premier.
Despite Shahid being the lead investor and co-owner of AEW, he was not a wrestling fan and was initially skeptical whether his son would succeed in this new venture.
Speaking on the "Swerve City Podcast, Tony Khan admitted as much:
“He’s gone into like Forbes a couple of times on the record and said like he was completely wrong, and I'm not shoving it in his face. He’s the reason we are all here,” said Tony. [18:40-18:57]
Luckily, Shahid has come around since then as is now a fan of the company that his son created.
#1. Why Tony Khan and Vince McMahon are similar - Both men have no outside interests/hobbies other than the companies they manage
AEW commentator and wrestling legend Jim Ross recently commented on Tony Khan's work-life balance during an episode of Grilling JR podcast. The WWE Hall of Famer has worked for both Tony and Vince McMahon, therefore he is well-placed to share what he thinks are the similarities between both bosses:
“So [Tony Khan] doesn’t really have a life; his life is the products he manages,” Ross said. “In that respect, he’s McMahon-like because Vince has no life other than the wrestling business.” (H/T: WrestlingInc)
While Tony helms other sports organizations, it's clear that his entire life revolves around his business, with All Elite Wrestling being the top priority, it seems. The 39-year-old has no other known interests or hobbies. Technically, watching pro wrestling was his hobby until he turned it into a job.
Vince McMahon also lives and breathes for his work. While he has had failed ventures such as the XFL, WWE was his life's work.
It can be argued that bodybuilding is another passion of his, but fitness and looks is an important aspect of the wrestling business, so it makes sense for Vince to dedicate time in the gym when he is in charge of world class athletes himself.