Danny Daniels tells all about AAW.
In 2005, Danny Daniels alongside Jim Lynam and a childhood friend of Danny’s acquired the Illinois-based AAW promotion. The promotion has been actively operating for 18 years.
The story of AAW and the ups and downs of the promotion were told by Danny Daniels during his appearance on Robert Anthony’s ‘Podding With Ego’ show. Daniels spoke candidly about a run-in he had with the I.R.S. that resulted in him thinking he might have to close AAW.
He said the troubles arose because he was paying talents in cash and did not have proper documentation. He said the I.R.S. found out about AAW through PayPal because they were doing well business-wise at the time. Daniels and his team were able to get things resolved with the help of an accountant. Present day, Danny said he never pays talent in cash and even shared that recently, Dragongate’s YAMATO asked for his pay in that form and Danny refused to do so, stating that he only pays talent through apps so he can keep a record.
I’ll tell you what f*cking killed me too. A couple people — I don’t give a f*ck now. But f*cking, the I.R.S. comes calling. I didn’t know. Before, I was just, all right, we’re running a f*cking show. I’m paying the boys cash and the f*cking I.R.S. comes calling. They’re like, ‘We want all this money’ and it was a lot — [They found AAW] because of PayPal. Business quadrupled, that’s what I’m telling you. Business quadrupled. So now they want their money from 2013, from PayPal records and I have no proof that I paid anybody. They just thought money came in. First accountant I went to, they’re like, ‘You have no proof that you paid anybody.’ I’m like, ‘Well how do you think f*cking this happened? Somebody had to get paid.’ They’re like, well, I’m not documenting it. So the first year, we got f*cking hammered on paying the IRS. Then I found somebody else and… it wasn’t ten years [of owed taxes]. It was just the tax lady I got, she took all my hotels — thankfully, I kept records of everything. Every little receipt, I kept f*cking records of and she’s like, ‘Let’s f*cking break this down’ and man, when I tell you I was stressed the f*ck out, oh my God dude and it was more money than I’d like to admit here. It was a lot and she f*cking… f*ck no [I didn’t have that money on-hand], f*ck no, no! F*ck no.
I was stressed the f*ck out dude and we upped our game. We’re doing LaSalle now, 25 shows a year and it’s just every other weekend, every other weekend and then telling the boys, ‘I’m not paying cash anymore.’ Oh dude, [now I pay via] PayPal, check, every other app. I do not handle cash.
Our accountant took care of it. Our old tax lady… Believe me when I tell you, it’s frightening. That time, it ruined it for me dude. You don’t know. I’ve never had that. You go to your normal job, you pay taxes, you get your f*cking W2s, you hand that in, you go to H&R Block and that’s it, you pay your taxes. This one’s like, no… I take a week off from work just to do my taxes because I’m really unorganized so I gotta sit there with all my receipts and f*cking itemize it. My tax lady, she wants numbers and she wants, ‘Do you have proof of everything?’ I don’t write off anything I don’t have proof on, not a f*cking dollar because I am in fear of getting that call again, audited… I don’t know [if the I.R.S. was coming after my personal funds]. They just kept sending letters. ‘You owe this, you owe this, you owe this’ and f*ck, and then my wife’s going crazy. It was damn near it [my wife almost killed me]. It’s really hard and so, you wanna enjoy that your f*cking business is booming but now you have this overhead and it’s like f*ck, they want it all, you know? And they’re gonna f*cking take it all unless I figure this out and I got lucky. I got lucky. The lady was smart.
Oh, at that point, 100 percent [I thought AAW was going under]… 100 percent. I was gonna be like, shut the f*cking doors. I just gotta pay this back. Dude, it was heavy and off-air, I’ll tell you exactly how much they wanted but it was f*cking heavy and thank God, we cut that down, you know? It was terrifying. If anybody who runs their own business, keep records. I was smart enough to just keep records of it except the boys, and now when a lot of people come in, like we just had YAMATO in from Dragongate. Like, ‘Cash.’ I’m like, ‘You’re not getting a dollar from me in cash buddy.’ I said, ‘I don’t even bring cash to the f*cking building.’ I do obviously for the bank, you know what I mean? But, I’m like, not a dollar. If I can’t show that I paid you, I said, ‘You’re not working for me. I don’t give a f*ck who you are.’
During the Q&A portion of the interview, Daniels was asked by a listener if he plans on bringing AAW back on the road. As of the recording, it’s something he wants to take slow coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic shut down.
Daniels stated that his roster that he would tour with was gutted by All Elite Wrestling. He mentioned that it seemed like he’d be doing a farewell for talents on a consistent basis because they were being signed.
No [I don’t plan on bringing AAW back on the road]. I’ll be honest, we have to — I want to. Believe me, I want to but… the business is different now than it was 2018, ‘19. Look, AEW gutted our roster… We got f*cking gutted. Every show, we were saying a farewell to at least one or two people. Every f*cking show and it got hard. It’s like, f*ck. ‘Hey, we got this planned.’ ‘He just gave me a call. He’s getting signed.’ I’m like, ‘Oh my God.’ So you’re not going on tour with [Eddie] Kingston and [Rey] Fenix and Pentagon and L.A.X. and all these other guys and Darby Allin. It’s a different f*cking animal now. You gotta build up the next batch and that means just putting out content, putting out great shows to get this talent over. But three years ago, there wasn’t AEW. You were able to do that. Not everybody was under contract.
We wanna start small. We have ideas of starting in the Midwest. We wanna branch out in the Midwest but, taking everything to Austin is a huge undertaking and we did great on the first couple.
Earlier this month, AAW wrapped up their Jim Lynam Memorial tournament that was won by Gnarls Garvin. IMPACT Wrestling’s Masha Slamovich was the first woman to compete in the tourney.
If the quotes in this article are used, please credit Podding With Ego with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.