Tony Khan in a Neck Brace: The New Elite Gives AEW a Massive Creative Boost

Photo credit: All Elite Wrestling

AEW followed up an incredible night of wrestling at Dynasty with possibly the most talked about cliffhanger to Dynamite ever.

The debut of the company’s newest pay-per-view advanced the growing rivalry between Willow Nightingale and Mercedes Moné. Swerve Strickland also achieved his goal of becoming the first Black AEW world champion and Bryan Danielson and Will Ospreay delivered an instant classic.

In addition, The Elite gained a new member as Jack Perry made his long-awaited return to help Matthew and Nicholas Jackson win the vacant tag titles. It was a shrewd payoff to the EVPs’ new direction and The Scapegoat’s brief excursion to New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Photo credit: New Japan Pro Wrestling

Many disagreed with the contentious decision to air backstage footage from All In London two weeks ago. However, it’s hard to deny that it worked out for Perry, who garnered an overwhelming reaction at NJPW Windy City Riot and Dynasty the following Sunday.

On the latest episode of Dynamite, the new Elite kicked it up another notch as they attacked Tony Khan and left him lying in the ring to end the show. Of course, fans and pundits will debate about the move to take part in an angle, but this controversial ending could be a defining moment for All Elite Wrestling.

To that end, The Young Bucks’ heel turn sparked a vital creative boost for the company as it hopes to bounce back from negative headlines.

A Changing of the Guard

This certainly isn’t the first time a wrestler put their hand on the owner or authority figure to gain an edge. It’s a tried and true way to define an unpredictable villain or the ultimate anti-establishment character.

Stone Cold Steve Austin notoriously beat down Vince McMahon at the height of his popularity. Kevin Nash powerbombed Eric Bischoff off the stage at Great American Bash in 1996, and Bully Ray famously put Dixie Carter through a table in 2014.

Similarly, it was a brilliant idea for The Elite to be the first to beat up Khan, forcing him to appear at the NFL Draft in a neck brace. First and foremost, it reaffirmed that The Scapegoat is still an antagonist instead of a returning hero.

B/R Wrestling @BRWrestling

Tony Khan is wearing a neck brace in the Jaguars draft room 😭

After the All In footage proved CM Punk was the aggressor in his backstage confrontation with Perry, it would be difficult to justify his motives as a member of a heel stable. Accosting his boss, and doing what ultimately got the Chicago native fired, proves his character is a hypocrite who wasn’t looking for redemption.

That’s important because his new persona wouldn’t work nearly as well if he appeared redeemable or his assessments rang true. Conversely, this development gave the new tag team champions the chance to take out the most powerful man in the company and exert control in his absence.

In real life, Khan established a line when he fired Punk, but The Elite crossed it in character. Even more, they’ve positioned themselves as the only members of the roster who could do so and get away with it.

This isn’t an act that will eventually make the owner and CEO an on-screen character; it’s likely a move to install themselves as authority figures. After all, that was the logical next step for them after they took on this role.

All Elite Wrestling @AEW

EXCLUSIVE! @boy_myth_legend, the @YoungBucks & @RainmakerXOkada talk about getting #AEW “back on track” after their heinous attack on @TonyKhan on #AEWDynamite!

Potential Long-Term Implications

One would have to assume the long-term goal is to set up Kazuchicka Okada’s fifth match with Kenny Omega. After all, their legendary series of New Japan matches helped to put The Best Bout Machine on the map.

For mainstream fans who didn’t follow his NJPW run, it’s the final piece of his legacy that hasn’t played out on American soil. Aligning with the Young Bucks and taking over his new home is an excellent way to reignite their rivalry and add a new dynamic.

The EVPs were in Omega’s corner when he faced Okada in Japan, but now, they’re siding with his greatest opponent. It’s hardly a coincidence that the ailing star is set to appear on the May 1 episode of Dynamite in his hometown Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Confronting him would plant seeds for an eventual matchup with The Rainmaker and generate even more heat after this week’s closing segment. It’s unclear when the former AEW world champion will be cleared to return to the ring, but this creates anticipation for a blockbuster one-on-one match.

TOKYO, JAPAN - JANUARY 05: Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega are seen during the New Japan Pro-Wrestling at Ota-City General Gymnasium on January 05, 2023 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)

Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

In the meantime, The Elite has enough members to compete against a team of protagonists in this year’s Anarchy in the Arena at Double or Nothing. They also have enough championship gold and power to run roughshod over the company for the foreseeable future.

The Continental Rules ensure they can’t interfere in Okada’s title matches, enforcing his reputation as a premiere singles competitor. Meanwhile, The EVPs provide the tag division with a dominant force to overcome.

Whether you love or hate The Young Bucks, The new-look Elite has played their roles well and left a lasting impact on this era of AEW. It will be fun to see how this storyline develops and how many other stars get involved.

As of now, the angle has already garnered mainstream attention because it led to Shahid Khan’s first appearance on Dynamite and talking points during the NFL Draft coverage. That’s a win for pro wrestling.

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