Tony Khan books a ton of matches in any given week, month, or year. He has a roster of well over 100 wrestlers in AEW, and if Ring of Honor ultimately secures the television deal he’s been pining for, there’s a chance the overall number of in-ring performers he employs on some sort of contract could inflate up even higher.
And yet, because of this expansive collection of talent that he has on the books, everyone can’t receive the same level of push that they may like. Some performers, like Bandido and The Kingdom, who were champions in the old ROH, are now relegated firmly into the mid-card, while other teams, like FTR, should theoretically be in the main event picture but can’t be because of The Acclaimed’s much-deserved status as the reigning and defending AEW World Tag Team Champions.
Unfortunate? You bet, but hey, that’s just the way wrestling works; everyone can’t be champion, and even when a promoter owns two different promotions, he still can’t make everyone happy. But did you know sometimes, AEW’s booking decisions actually affect indie promotions, too, when it comes to booking Khan’s contracted talent? Because they do, as FTR learned firsthand ahead of their forthcoming match with Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat at Big Time Wrestling.
FTR’s match with “The Dragon” was considerably changed by AEW.
Sitting down with Nick Hausman of Wrestling Inc to talk about his forthcoming match at Big Time Wrestling, Steamboat was asked about whose idea it was to have FTR serve as his tag team partners at his namesake event Return of the Dragon, and needless to say, his answer was incredibly interesting.
“Well, let me tell you this,” Steamboat said. “Like I said, this, for me to make a final, final decision was three or four months in the making. I just didn’t jump on it the first time I was approached from Big Time Wrestling and I have an agent guy, Tony Hunter, who also works with Big Time Wrestling, and when I was first approached, but FTR, when I was first approached were heels.”
“They were going to be two guys on the other side of the ring that I was going to be wrestling. And AEW turned them baby faces, turned them good guy. So they said, ‘We can’t have heels working against you, Ricky, you’re a baby face. So what would you think if we had them as your partners?’ And I thought it was great too because they were at the school WWE, back in the day when I was a trainer and I’d work with them in the ring and I know they’re good hands and I’m glad how they’ve grown in the business with AEW. And so the adversaries, the Jay Lethal and then Old Arn Anderson’s boy, Brock and they still got a mystery partner and I haven’t been privy to the mystery partner. Can you believe this? It’s coming up this week.”
Well, well, well, isn’t that interesting? Despite having absolutely nothing to do with AEW, Khan’s decision to turn FTR heel made it so that a two-on-two tag team match between the “Top Guys,” the “Dragon,” and a fourth performer was ultimately deemed untenable because it would go against Cash Harwood and Dax Wheeler being babyfaces in AEW. Still, it’s nice to see the two sides were able to work another option out and ultimately came to a solution that still lets FTR add Steamboat to their Cagematch page in 2022 while bringing “Black Machismo” Jay Lethal, Brock Anderson, and his father Arn Anderson into the match with a third, mystery member to boot. Speaking of Anderson, what does Steamboat think about the fellow former WCW star’s son?
“When the first time I heard it was Brock, it immediately brought back memories of working with his dad,” Steamboat said. “And I’ve never worked with Brock, not even coaching, but I do have a feeling that it’s going to be stepping in the ring with a young Arn Anderson. And I’m really looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to locking up with him just like the way I locked up with his dad. And I also understand that Arn’s going to be there sitting in their corner.”
Oh no, could Arn actually be the mystery sixth man in the match? Or will he simply do some “enforcing” on the outside of the ring while another man joins his son’s team? Either way, don’t be surprised to see Cody Rhodes’ former AEW cornerman give a shot or two during the match, especially if he’s packing.
— Xylot Themes (@XylotThemes) October 23, 2021