Mike Mansury opens up about his journey that has led him to AEW.
The newest addition to All Elite Wrestling is Michael Mansury, who served as Vice President of Global Television Production for WWE. Mansury is now working in AEW as a co-Executive Producer and Senior Production Executive.
He was invited onto The Sessions with Renee Paquette to discuss his career in production and what led him to joining AEW. Starting off with the conclusion of Mansury’s time at WWE, he explained that it was inferred and maybe formalized that he was going to be the successor to Kevin Dunn.
Mansury shared that it was always said that he does great work, but they did not know what to do with him until they figured out what Dunn’s future was.
It was always inferred and I think at some point, maybe even formalized that should something happened or if he decided to retire, that I was gonna be the successor to Kevin Dunn on the TV side, right? But, I, at that point, was self-aware enough to know that I couldn’t do it and not in the sense that I couldn’t do the shows. I can do Raw and SmackDown in my sleep. Pay-per-views, no problem, all that sh*t. I’d shown them I could do it but it’s more so the business end of it and the non-TV side of what that role is because there’s more to what Kevin does than just sit in a truck and just line produce Raw or SmackDown, whatever show it is. I’d grown tired of hearing, ‘We can’t figure out what to do with you until we know what Kevin’s future is.’ My review was always, ‘You’re doing a great job, you’re killing it but we don’t really know what to do until we get an understanding of what Kevin’s future is.’
I knew that there was more that I was capable of but I had already excelled at everything they allowed me to do at that point. I was looking for that new challenge and even if it was something that were outside of the scope of what people would have defined as my potential, it would have been nice to be able to kind of spread wings a little bit and take on a new challenge so, once I kind of realized I was in the lane that I was in and the path to the destination wasn’t really gonna change or even progress that much, I knew it was time to make a change.
In 2020, Mansury gave notice to WWE that he would be leaving the company. As the COVID-19 pandemic started, they offered him the opportunity to rescind his resignation.
He appreciated that seeing as how the world was heading into uncertain times, but felt that if he did not give notice and bow out then, he would never do it.
So we’re doing NXT out of the PC. So we do the show and after the show, Hunter and I are at ringside and we’re talking, Hunter says, ‘I’m gonna call Vince because I don’t know man. I got a weird feeling. I think we should leave this set up… This Coronavirus thing, just, I don’t know.’ He’s like, ‘I think we should leave this set up.’ I decide to stay in Orlando. Literally, we find out not too long after, I think it was the next day that everything’s shut down and we wind up doing SmackDown out of the Performance Center that Friday, right? So Triple H does like the first-ever sports or entertainment show without a live crowd because of the Coronavirus. We knock it out that Friday night and things are happening. I remember I had gone back up to Stamford and they had offered me the opportunity to rescind my resignation and I was beyond appreciative of it but you know, I told them, I said, ‘Look, I know we’re heading into uncertain times but if I don’t do this, I’m never gonna do it and I need to.’
He dove into the first talks he had with those in AEW. They came at a time when Mike and his wife were in Singapore. They moved to the country for his job with ONE Championship MMA.
As far as AEW went, he felt it was not the right time and they already had a solid team with Keith Mitchell at the helm. Mitchell would retire from his role months after those talks.
The opportunity had presented itself to join ONE [Championship] and a lot of people don’t know, you [Renee Paquette] know this obviously, at the time, I had started having talks with people at AEW. But, it wasn’t the right time for either of us. I don’t know that I was ready to get into wrestling and they had a pretty solid crew. Keith Mitchell was still in the game. I don’t think they knew Keith was gonna wind up retiring a couple months later. But a lot of folks on the AEW side that we had known from WWE had spoken to Tony [Khan] a lot and had talked to me about coming down and just checking things out and just saying hello. But ultimately, you know, ONE was the new home.
The conversations between AEW and Mansury eventually picked back up in the summer of 2022. He communicated with Tony Khan and Chief Legal Officer Megha Parekh. They expressed to Mansury that they feel AEW is ready to break into their next level.
Like I said, unfinished business [is what led me back into wrestling and to AEW]. There was definitely unfinished business and I don’t know that I left wrestling feeling fulfilled. I think when I left the WWE, I was burned out at that point and I was frustrated.
Around the summer, I had started talks again with AEW. A few folks had reached out. Shout out to Megha Parekh by the way who I think is a — that woman is a wizard. She’s got that thing that Hermione had in Harry Potter that allowed her to be in two places at the same time. But Megha and Tony, they were pretty inviting right from jump street. Just saying, ‘Hey, we have an opportunity here. We feel like the company is at the threshold of sort of that next level and the next iteration of what AEW is and establishing our identity and everything in between’ and they then wanted to gauge my interest and seeing if I’d be interested in coming along for the ride. So it was a pretty long process, right? And at that point, I said, ‘Look, I’m certainly interested for sure. But, we were getting ready to launch ONE [Championship] on Prime Video so, I wanted to give that the focus that it deserved but it had occupied a lot of my thoughts and we got to the point ultimately, as conversations progressed, we were literally packing up our bags to head back to the [USA]. We were still kind of going back and forth on what this role would be, what I would do, etcetera. But, we came to an accord and here I am.
As the interview was ongoing, Mansury was asked who he’s excited to work with in AEW from a production and presentation standpoint.
He said there’s too many to name but highlighted names such as Ricky Starks, AEW World Champion MJF, TBS Champion Jade Cargill and FTR (Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler).
The [AEW] roster is just full of stars. Stars waiting to truly just be let out. Jade Cargill is someone that, I remember seeing her for the first time, I’d messaged Mark Henry because Mark Henry was basically responsible for discovering Jade. I said, ‘Holy sh*t. This is a star’ and I don’t even think that we’ve scratched the surface on the presentation of Jade. Ricky Starks, another unbelievably talented young man. The guy can talk, the guy can work. MJF goes without saying but not too much to enhance but actually get the chance to work with someone as dedicated to the craft as MJF. I’m very excited about that. It’ll be great to work together again with FTR. Honestly, there’s just so many to name and I don’t wanna offend anybody… I’ve only been here for about a week but honestly Renee [Paquette], again, we were talking about NXT beforehand, I have that same feeling in that there’s so much out there to work with and everything is just so raw, you know what I mean? It’s raw and just waiting for folks to apply the right touches or whatever or to help these men and women find out what are the missing pieces that we need to accentuate and what are the pieces we need to tweak.
To wrap up the conversation, he commented on the differences he sees in production between AEW and WWE. Mansury says AEW is more sport-based and he’s looking forward to getting involved in that.
It’s a little interesting because it’s only been a week [I’ve been with AEW], right? I had my observation glasses on. A lot of how AEW is brought together is very reminiscent of legitimate sport. Boxing, MMA, baseball etcetera. The way even the production crew approaches it. It’s very much put together like sport and coming from what I’ve just done over the last year-and-a-half, I think it’s a nice fit for me to kind of slide right in, get involved and get my hands dirty with the team.
Tony Khan confirmed that changes are coming to AEW’s broadcasts starting with the January 4th Dynamite. Those changes will carry over to Rampage as well.
If the quotes in this article are used, please credit The Sessions with Renee Paquette with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.