Show: Wrestling Epicenter
Guests: Cody Rhodes
Guest: 03/03/2021
Your Host: James Walsh

Cody Rhodes media call.

He talks AEW Revolution,, Shaq match, more.




Cody Rhodes on How AEW Elevation Will Be Different From Dark, Paul Wight’s Arrival, His Tag Match Against Shaq, More

Cody Rhodes held a media briefing and Q&A previewing tonight’s big episode of AEW Dynamite as well as Revolution this weekend, discussing the upcoming AEW Dark: Elevation show as well as Paul Wight’s arrival in the company and more. 411 was on the call and you can check out the full audio and a recap below.

* Jim Woodcock started the call and thanked everyone for joining. He introduced Cody for opening thoughts.

* Cody says it’s been an honor to continue working and give fans a bright spot, and said he’s looking forward to his match tonight at Dynamite as well as Revolution. He ran down the card for Revolution and said that media calls are something he looks forward to.

* Asked about the exploding barbed wire deathmatch and his opinion on deathmatches in wrestling is, Cody said that deathmatches already have an identity, mentioning FMW and Terry Funk up to Matt Tremont in this era. But anything that involves Kenny Omega is going to be unique and have its own identity. He says he’s only seen the barbed wire and hasn’t seen the explosions yet and is as on the edge of his seat as anyone. He said that the title is the big important thing and how Jon Moxley was screwed by the returning “Cleaner” persona of Kenny Omega. He noted that the match would be last even if it wasn’t for the World Title because it’s so dangerous.

* The next question asked about Paul Wight’s jump to AEW and how that came about, and if he wants more veterans like Wight in AEW. Cody said Paul Wight is a big part of his career as many know, being involved in WrestleMania together. He said the Paul Wight AEW is getting is extremely motivated and there wasn’t a long negotiation process because he wanted to be there. He wants to be there in a different capacity with Elevation, and he expects there to be more matches with Paul but he’s most excited about Wight being in the locker room because of the sudden fame the talent is dealing with and being the future of wrestling. Someone like Paul or Sting are good to keep people grounded and in perspective. He said Paul has more to give and he’s excited to see that.

* The next question asked about Shaq’s involvement and if Paul Wight’s history with Shaq could play into things. He says it was coincidental timing and that what Shaq brings is obvious; he has a very large following with all his entrepreneurial work and for his match, he wants to see Red Velvet emerge the star (and hopefully victorious). He says the match is a big opportunity for Velvet and Jade and talks about how the Eliminator Tournament is another way for them to build their women’s division. He won’t say anything mean about Shaq because he’s entering a different world, and he hopes he’s ready. But we’ll see, and he doesn’t think he has enough gas to compete with him.

* The next question asked about the company’s focus on Latino talent and how important it is to have a Latina wrestler in Red Velvet in his match tonight. Cody said it’s a beautiful thing to have diversity in your roster and space. It used to not be that way, because promoters were adamant about having “one” of a particular demographic and that isn’t the case anymore. He’s excited about that and continues to cultivate it, and he does scouting trips even now during the pandemic. He wants them to represent as many different cultures as they can.

* Asked about where AEW was heading before the pandemic and how they can pick up from that place now, Cody said they were “heading to the frickin moon, buddy!” He said that the pandemic happened to everyone and a lot of people have faced so many hardships — 40 million unemployed, and the like. He doesn’t want to whine about what happened to them and instead wants to share with people who went through it. He mentions the Norcross matches which genuinely saved the company. Their job is to provide content for TNT, and they were happy to do that. Now their job is to pivot and as vaccines spread, he thinks there will be a bounce back and it will only behoove AEW in time because they never gave up and never flinched. They continued making big signings and continued to progress the show. He says they set the standard with how wrestling can be done during the pandemic from the way it was shot and getting work for independent talent, the testing protocols, the temperature scans and the rest. It was overkill but it needed to be and provided a safe working environment. They won’t be the first to jump into opened states; they will do it so wrestling fans feel comfortable.

* The next question was about Red Velvet and asking about her status with the company, whether she’ll be signed full-time. Cody said she’s stepped up and they’ve seen her, and he hopes it becomes a full-time gig. Not that a tier-zero contract isn’t part of the company, but he noted that Tony is very careful and conservative with full-time signings. He notes that Velvet is not a replacement and she changed the composition of the match, and he hopes she becomes a regular part of the company if all things go well tonight.

* A write-in question asked about the Women’s Tournament and asked if tournaments will become a stable of AEW, and if we’ll see Cody in more tournaments going ahead. Cody said tournaments are absolutely part of what they do. They wanted several portions of the show to provide sports-based wrestling and he talks about how tournaments lead into more matches and content. He talks about how much he’s loved tournaments from the Crockett Cup to King of the Ring. He puts over the Eliminator Tournament and says they’ll have more tournaments around other things whether titles or bragging rights or what. He said he’d love to see a Trios Tournament down the line as well.

* Asked about what it’s meant for him personally to sign Sting and see him get another run, Cody says no one was a bigger little Stinger than him, and he talks about going to shows as a kid and getting Sting decals put on his face. He said the thing is whether Sting can do a regular wrestling match, and he things he can. He said that Sting’s kinetic movement is still there and coming from an earlier era these days he qualifies as a heavyweight. He says Sting is in it for the long haul in AEW.

* Asked about Shaq saying this match would top all other celebrity matches and if there’s added pressure in facing non-wrestlers, Cody said that he didn’t see the particular comment and said Pat McAfree is trying to get a job at AEW every other day. He said there are a lot of old wrestlers who have opinions on celebrity matches, but his opinion is that you have to wrestle. You can’t work around that, and notes that Shaq trained and has to know his way around the ring. Shaq doesn’t have his experience, but his athleticism is legendary and that he hopes they can set a new standard for celebrity matches and give a new outlook on what such a match should be.

* The next question asked about the rumor of NXT moving to Tuesday, and how AEW may be the sole destination for wrestling on Wednesday. He said he anticipated this question and said if that’s the case, he’s sure they’ll come up with some sort of wonderful statement. He imagines what such a statement would look like and says that he doesn’t want to be sassy or a jerk. He said something may then move to Wednesdays, plus Dark is on Tuesday so there will still be competition. He said that the locker rooms love each other and there are digs, but they’re light-hearted. He says he would love them to be alone on Wednesdays, but he’s prepared for someone to be in that spot.

* Asked about the announcement of the NWA and what it means for AEW’s relationship with the company, Cody says it could lead to a greater symbiosis and talked about how Tony finds ways to make that work. He definitely sees more potential cross-promotion with NWA, CMLL, or other companies. He said that when they bring people in, they try to treat them better than others do, and said he’s sure they’ll see some crossover.

* Asked about how Dark will be different from AEW Elevation, he said he wants people to watch and see, and said it will be similar to Dark but there will be some differences, some one-on-one interviews and character insight to introduce talent to the fans and why they’re stepping into the ring. He spotlighted Paul Wight being the big thing that will separate them.

* Asked about the mixed tag match tonight as well as Tully Blanchard’s return to the ring, he said he isn’t sure how much convincing FTR had to do to get Tully back in the ring and said that he has a few surprises for Tully tonight. He noted it’s not lost to him what it means to get Tully back in the ring and said that his match fits well on Dynamite as the economics have changed so much to where TV money is your bottom line these days, so TV is no longer just a way to stretch things until PPV. He says he’s excited about leading off the show and said that they’ve discovered that their go-home to PPVs might end up being themed in some way and have a heavy-hitter match because they shouldn’t be throwaways. They want the go-home show to be significant and news-worthy.

* The next question asked about crossover with non-wrestling to bring in new or lapsed fans. He noted that for him, he’s taken it upon himself to grow the audience, and knows they have the best bell-to-bell wrestling. But he needs people to watch it and if they come to Shaq, maybe they’ll stay for PAC. He says they’ll see more crossover which is done in a respectful way. He notes that Shaq and Stephen Amell trained. He only wants to bring in people who respect the business, and they don’t want to bring in A-listers or B-listers who don’t want to be there. He notes he wants to make more fans, and make more fans happy, but it will always be done in a disciplined way.

* The next question asked if Maki Itoh has been discussed regarding bringing her back, and he said “absolutely.” He said she impressed, as did many in the tournament. He gave a shout-out to Shida and everyone who put it together, noting that Khan moved heaven and earth to put it together and they did a wonderful job. He notes that it’s someone like Itoh who brings in an audience, and if you can connect with the fans, they’re interested. He says there’s been conversations on his end and the women want to work with her. He said it’s pretty, pretty likely they’ll see her in an AEW ring.

* The next question was about developing younger talent and what it’s like to be the “kingmaker” or “queenmaker” in terms of bringing up talent. He said that he’s heard about how important it is to make new stars but then not have it happen, and AEW is very much a place with an open mind. You don’t want there just to be a top and bottom roster; you need a middle card that you develop. He says they’re the best at doing it because they had to do it quickly, mentioning Britt Baker, MJF, Guevara, and more. Their job is to make them so wanted and needed that you have to see them or get the action figure. He said the most gratifying feeling is to hear the reaction to someone who just made. It’s a high that no drug on earth can give you, and he hopes he can do more of it which takes going out into the world and finding them. He cites Bill Watts’ ability to do that as an example and says that they do that now with the Nightmare Factory.

* Asked about the taping plans for everything are once the pandemic is done, Cody said that with all the content moving forward, that’s something he’s leaving for Greg Warner, Keith Mitchell and their teams to coordinate the logistics. They want to make sure fans have the best experiences and it’s not a marathon-style taping that can linger and fatigue an audience. They’ll do everything they can to make them logistically and functionally correct.

* The final question asked about the second TNT show and if it will have a different format than Dynamite. He said he thinks all the shows will end up with a different format, and the focus right now is on Elevation and how they’ll feature more new stars. He said Elevation won’t be a bait-and-switch and it will be from the first hour what it’s supposed to be. When it comes to the new show, it has a name he loves but he can’t say what it is. It will happen in 2021 and hopefully they’ll have some discussion on the next media call, and teased another announcement coming regarding AEW talent on another WarnerMedia property but couldn’t give details.

* Jim Woodcock then ended the call and thanked everyone.