After beginning AEW with an emphasis on a sports-based presentation, one of the most popular wrestlers in Tony Khan‘s company now has a truly fantastical presentation in “Timeless” Toni Storm, the AEW Women's World Champion, whose gimmick is straight out of Turner Classic Movies. Discussing how he's built such a unique storyline up in an interview with TV Insider, fittingly enough, Khan revealed what he and his creative staff have drawn inspiration from and how television and movies play a role in the larger story AEW tells each week.

“All About Eve and Sunset Boulevard changed the course of AEW. Those are two of my favorites. If you’ve seen them, you know what I’m talking about. With ‘Timeless' Toni Storm, I took a lot of influence from those when I wanted to make her a character and lead off with her. We have a great tie-in with Turner Classic Movies. One influence came at the start of the lockdown. There were a few days before we had to do our show during the lockdown, which I think was March 18, 2020. I had a lot of time to watch other shows and what others did during these situations,” Tony Khan told TV Insider.

“I watched the late-night shows where they were using Zoom. I watched Stephen Colbert do his show, and it was great and had great jokes, but something felt weird without an audience. I watched Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, he had a production team and crew and mic’d up and laughing at jokes. It sounded like a comedy club. It felt more natural than anything I’d seen on the talk shows. That inspired me during the lockdown era in AEW because I put the wrestlers around the ring so there would be an audience. People cheering and making noises like we’re used to. It changed the show compared to the arena show and resembled the territory shows I grew up on. There were less than a hundred people at Techwood studio for Saturday’s TBS wrestling. There was also Memphis TV and another studio show. I think we did the best shows when it came to the lockdown wrestling.”

Now, for fans of classic Hollywood, using All About Eve and Sunset Boulevard as inspirations for Storm's story has been anything but subtle, as Mariah May's inclusion is firmly from the former, and Luther's new character is straight out of the 1950 Billy Wilder classic. Still, how many wrestling angles are drawn from old Hollywood classics, let alone pushed as one of a promotion's top storylines? Though they may be soon approaching an inflection point, it's safe to say fans are fully invested and ready for Toni's closeup, Mr. Khan.

Tony Khan opens up about AEW's TV lead-ins.

Elsewhere in his interview with TV Insider, Tony Khan talked about the shows that lead into AEW's weekly programming, from the Big Bang Theory on TBS, to various movies on TNT. While TK clearly isn't watching TV shows right before his programs go on the air, he has enjoyed what he's seen of the programs and has gone on to incorporate it as a part of his social media pre-show promotions.

“I’ve become a Big Bang Theory fan because of the lead-in. The show is tremendous. I hadn’t seen the show before we moved AEW Dynamite to TBS. I’m a huge Star Wars fan. There are a lot of those movies that lead to our shows,” Tony Khan explained. “My all-time favorite was probably Revenge of the Sith. For the ending, I was doing a post before Rampage began one night. Something like,Darth Sidious just found Anakin Skywalker’s charred remains following the Duel on Mustafar, which means Revenge of the Sith is almost over ,and it’s time for Friday night Rampage. That’s a good one. The Accountant is certainly one of our most legendary lead-ins. I love the movie. I think I share too many similarities with Ben Affleck’s character sometimes. I love that lead-in. I also love U.S. Soccer.”

For better or for worse, every episode of television has something that comes before it and something that comes after it; while Tony Khan could do what 99 percent of other television shows do and simply ignore that, his decision to lean into it and really have some fun with the entire process has made for some fun and interactive social media posts, and even become something hardcore fans look forward to weekly. For a promotion like AEW that routinely goes over its time, especially on Wednesday nights, that corporate synergy likely goes over well with Khan's bosses at Warner Bros. Discovery, too.