WWE Vs. Tony Khan: Ariel Helwani Explains WWE's Backstage Reaction

AEW vs. WWE, move aside... Tony Khan vs. Ariel Helwani is wrestling's newest, dumbest war.

Ariel Helwani Tony Khan

Tony Khan vs. Ariel Helwani remains a topic of conversation following the weekend, when Khan caught attention for calling Helwani a "fraud" in the wake of Ariel's live appearance on SmackDown.

The situation escalated when Helwani responded to his "old friend", claiming he couldn't wait for their next chat. Khan then poured more gasoline on the fire:-

Helwani, who has performed media work for WWE in the past, appeared on Saturday's Elimination Chamber 2023 Kickoff Show. WWE announcer Michael Cole then took a shot at AEW figurehead Khan during the premium live event proper, introducing Helwani as "the unbiased, world-renowned combat sports journalist" who "asks all the hard questions, whether you want to answer them or not."

The jabs continued through last night's Raw.


Helwani has since touched on the situation on his show, The MMA Hour. Ariel, who says he wants to do more work with WWE, didn't apologise, stating that he is not a wrestling journalist, throwing comparisons to Dave Meltzer aside (h/t Wrestling Inc.):-

"Why do you guys keep comparing me to this guy? Because I may be that guy in MMA? I've never been that guy in this sport. Just to be clear, that's it for me. I'm not a new employee. That's it, I'm done. I left, and I said thank you, that's it. I have zero regrets and I loved every second of it."

Prior to this, Ariel claimed:-

"This f***ing guy doesn't know what journalism is. He's no different than Dana [White]. What I thought about tweeting back to him was, 'Dana's not going to shag you, mate' because I know he's trying to curry favor with his idol Dana White. I thought it might have been too much of a deep cut for the wrestling audience like he's just trying to do that thing and it hasn't worked for Dana and it's not going to work for Tony Khan I can assure you of that."

Helwani, who had previously criticised Khan following an October 2022 interview on The MMA Hour, called the situation "bizarre," adding that it had caught fire in the WWE locker room. Cole was amongst those who took notice of the SmackDown tweets, leading to the Elimination Chamber line:-

"Michael Cole – freaking legend that he is – sees me before the show and goes, 'Just wait till you see how I introduce you.' I think he's going to say 'combat sports reporter,' this and that, whatever. Thanks, man. Do the hit, I'm trying to put over GSP, this all feels like an out-of-body experience, and then go to the back and my phone explodes because of what Michael Cole said."

Reporting on the matter, the Wrestling Observer's Dave Meltzer called WWE's shots at Khan (and the things said about Tony backstage in the company) "insidious." WWE hasn't changed in 40 years of wrestling wars, in his eyes, with company personnel seemingly celebrating Helwani's "snowman" jibe at Khan.

Helwani has previously worked as current WWE CEO Nick Khan's agent. The MMA journalist had publically criticised Khan after their October interview, calling AEW's fanbase "freakazoids" in the process.

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Andy has been with WhatCulture for six years and is currently WhatCulture's Senior Wrestling Reporter. A writer, presenter, and editor with 10+ years of experience in online media, he has been a sponge for all wrestling knowledge since playing an old Royal Rumble 1992 VHS to ruin in his childhood. Having previously worked for Bleacher Report, Andy specialises in short and long-form writing, video presenting, voiceover acting, and editing, all characterised by expert wrestling knowledge and commentary. Andy is as much a fan of 1985 Jim Crockett Promotions as he is present-day AEW and WWE - just don't make him choose between the two.