SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
The following are highlights of Cody Rhodes’s appearance on the Breaking Kayfabe podcast this weekend including Cody talking with host Chris Tubbs about the concept of AEW, working with other promotions, talent reaching out them, potential TV deals, Kenny Omega, importance of fan interaction, and more! (LISTEN HERE)
Q: When did you where did you guys first come up with the idea for AWE?
A: “Well, I’ve know Matt and Nick [Jackson] for a long time had talked about, it’s a childhood dream, was having a “Being The Elite” promotion. They were having fun with the YouTube series, having fun creating characters, and in their mind they had that entrepreneurial spirit. It didn’t become real to me until my ROH contract expired and even then it became more about let’s look at doing more of a second “All In” and what would that be like. We’ve come very far from that discussion. What wrestling needs the most is an alternative, and we can be that. It’s further along today than most people know.
Q: What is the reaction band from some of your friends and other promotions?
A: From a management side to a talent side, I’ve not gotten any reaction other than other than pure good luck and excitement over it. My peers in the locker room know how important this is. They know some of the goals and things that I want to implement in my mind. If it’s in my mind, I intend to do it.
Q: What is the connection with OWE?
A: They’re a partner of ours and with shared resources I’d like to bring over some of their talent and have it sync up with some of the talent that we’re going to have on our roster and vice versa. For the hardcore wrestling fan, even if you’re a gif watcher, you can’t not take notice of the type of wrestling they’re doing. And that’s what I want. it’s really fresh and that’s what I want more than anything. I say this will all due respect, I don’t want legends and older wrestlers as much as I want fresh. Matt Jackson spearheaded that sponsorship and hopefully we’ll be able to see those guys soon.
Q: Will you guys be working with other promotions or more than OWE? Will that be exclusive or will you be working with New Japan and other promotions as well?
A: I mean, right now that’s the first announced partnership. I know Chris Jericho and myself were just getting a taste of NJPW, and what an absolutely great and wonderful company. The environment and locker room is great and in the world business of sports entertainment they skew so far towards the sports part and the pure wrestling. I don’t think it’s the last time for me. I can’t speak for the company and I would like to be friends. They have various partnerships and hopefully AEW can be one of them.
Q: What about health insurance?
A: The first thing we have to do in wrestling – and I spoke about this at the rally – my father was my favorite actor when he was a pro wrestler, but I thought he was on the level of some of the greatest actors in film and television. He always told me wrestlers were the least paid, and I want to change that. And this carny, hot dog handshake b.s., some feel that if we get away from that, the industry will blow up, and I feel the exact opposite. I think happy wrestlers only encourages happy fans. I’ll hit it on the head. People talk about the word “union” a lot, [that] a union in wrestling would kill wrestling because it’s not there at that price point yet. We need to up the profile. You have to take baby steps. It’s a player feedback. There needs to be a transparent line of communication between the office and the talent. The resource in wrestling is the wrestlers and they need to be nurtured. But you need to take baby steps.
Q: Have you had individuals from other promotions contact you about AEW and dip their toe in the water?
A: It’s been tough, because when you’re one of the boys you can talk to anybody. But in my role, legality is incredibly important and we want to be on the up and up, so we need to be very careful that we’re not talking to somebody that is not under a specific deal, make sure they’re aware this is why we can’t talk to them. The thing what has surprised me the most is that we haven’t really had to communicate with anybody on that level because there’s so much fresh independent talent. One of the things was the sweetest things ever was, when I got back from the rally, my DM’s were flooded and full from independent promoters that I worked with suggesting talent. It made me feel so good, and a lot of those guys they’re right about, that’s one thing I want to put an emphasis on is fresh.
Q: What’s the update Kenny Omega?
Kenny’s a free agent and, not arguably, genuinely the hottest free agent in the world. The one thing I really like about the group of friends and the Elite, that Kenny, no matter what he does, whether WWE, AEW, or continues to do just New Japan, he’s still part of The Elite. And everyone will support whatever decision he makes. Obviously I want him to be a part of what’s happening, and I would really like him to join us, but time will tell and what’s more important will be the factors to him. Money is one, creative freedom is one. I’ll support him no matter what. Right now he’s a free agent and he’s weighing his his options. And the best we can do is not say what they don’t have we can only talk about what we do have.
Q: What’s the deal with TV deals?
A: As of now, the first thing being on the books is is “Double or Nothing.” That’s my focus. Obviously, right now we’re spacing out our pops if that makes sense. We’re taking our time and making sure we can engage the audiences. We want we want them to be excited because there’s so much we want to tell them. I don’t know if I necessarily have a timeline, but I would say by Double or Nothing pretty much all of your questions about All Elite Wrestling should be answered. Again, we’re a start up, but I signed my career to this. I signed on for five years and I wouldn’t have done this if I didn’t think we were heading in the right direction. I think all of the mediums that you could be available on and all the speculation, you’re probably right. I’m real excited to bring that to people in a more official sense legally, but I can’t really say anything. But just saying that alone says something. I think fans will be pretty pumped .
Q: Will you be running live events?
A: Our intentions are to be an entertainment business, and there are so many markets that we want to hit, starting with “Double or Nothing.” The only only thing we’ve announced is a charity event coming up this summer in Jacksonville with the money going to a charity of our choosing. That’s something that we want to cover out of the gate. We wanted to do that show. Tony [Khan] is adamant about doing that. He knows the importance of the community. If you can give to the people, it’s the best thing you can do with the shred of fame that wrestling gives you, it’s a wonderful feeling. After that, the plans and schedule should come more to the life of day.
Q: What has your post-WWE run meant to connect with fans and knowing what they want?
A: Well, it’s being a fan yourself. Even if I wasn’t in the industry, I would have known after watching it for a millisecond on TV that I loved it. That part of the hardcore fan, that section of the hardcore fan has not been serviced in quite some time. Being on the independent scene for two years and then Ring of Honor. Sometimes when you would do independent shows, there would be times where you would meet everyone in the crowd. One of the most rewarding parts of ROH was the meet-and-greet, it’s flawless. That’s something we hope to adopt. Joe and Gregg Koff did a great job with how they set up meet and greets for their performers. That engagement is what was missing in my career. I didn’t get it until I got it. It’s less about ring set and more about the humanity. That engagement is priceless. The reason we sat out for three hours after the rally even though nobody was getting paid, was the engagement. What the hell are we doing if we’re not engaging wrestling fans? There’s no drug on Earth that can replace that high when people are participating in what we’re doing.