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Prior to the second edition of AEW’s Full Gear show on Saturday, AEW EVP Cody Rhodes answered questions from the assembled media, which are contained below.
Cody opened with his pride that AEW has been able to provide joy to fans, and looked forward to his match with Darby Allin and the “ace” TNT title.
William Prichard from WrestleTalk opened questions with thoughts on Cody being “Cody Rhodes” with the legal ability to do so. Cody said that the details themselves weren’t important, just that it was a positive, “no bad feelings” vibe from either side. Cody said he would be using the name mainly for third party ventures and will maintain “The American Nightmare Cody” as his nom-de-guerre as a wrestler.
Louie Francone asked about the Buy In match, and how Kay-Deeb will be seen going forward. Cody said, “It’s not a shill, our bridges are down, and we’re open for business” in terms of working with others outside of their company. Cited Serena’s presence on the prior weeks’ Dynamite and having a second women’s match on the card was due to Tony Khan and his relationship with Billy Corgan.
Stephanie Francone from Steel Chair Wrestling asked Cody’s thoughts on Eddie Kingston’s catapult to the top of the card. Cody talked about the Voices of Wrestling cast talking up Ricky Starks, and Eddie Kingston being a great get via the online push as well. Both men were said to have “run with the ball” and the Moxley/Kingston segment from last night were a lightning rod of how one touches an audience with a promo. At Full Gear Rhodes mentioned it’s up to Kingston to finish it at Full Gear and then find out the hardest part is staying up there once you’re at the top.
Connor Casey from Comicbook asked about the difference in the first Cody mention of “sports centric wrestling” to what is being presented now on TV with AEW. Cody cited MMA, Boxing, WCCW, wrestling he grew up with – and what he does – personally to be sports centric. In terms of Dinner Debonair, that’s what Jericho is, and it’s different flavors of ice cream that are served in AEW. Cody followed up with an observation that the diversity of what is in an AEW show is what they aim for, and Cody will focus on a sports-centric product personally.
Jon Alba from Spectrum Sports mentioned Tony Khan’s statements regarding extra medical personnel and how Cody takes in that feedback from the fans or media. Cody’s answer was that some of what is presented on TV is part of the show – “gray” – and the protocol is evolving. Cody then said there was an all staff meeting with Chris Nowinski after this call. Cody said that they have to “plow through” some of the armchair quarterbacking, but talent safety is paramount. Cody said that wrestling is violent, and he thinks his mindset has always been “you’re always hurt, but should never be injured.”
Kristen Ashley Belle to Belles cited lack of storyline build on Shida-Nyla amongst fans. Cody wasn’t disappointed with the build, and understands that in the last 20 years fans have been conditioned that a “camera in the back and the last piece of cake and someone takes the last piece of cake and boom – storyline.” Cody said as part of the sports-centric presentation there will be matches that may not have a story, and that if the story was disappointing, the match Saturday will not be.
A write in question from Kyle Masters from the All Elite Podcasts asked how Darby’s match versus Cody will differ than their prior match ups. Cody talked about Darby now has to learn how to work a bigger opponent, because Rhodes mentioned he gained 15 pounds in the time off and while he isn’t looking past Darby, Rhodes believed there were better opponents to be had.
Jim Barcelone Miami Herald asked about the mindset of how AEW Dark works, and . Cody came up with the Dark name, in reference to the Universal Dark Universe that failed to appear, but now it’s become a haven for wrestlers impacted by COVID and spotlighting folks like Red Velvet thanks to Tony Khan. Cody said it was the continued application of coaching has also given space to the AEW coaches to develop and help talent grow while getting an opportunity to eventually get on tv without being hamstrung.
“If I was not on Dynamite I would want to be the King of Dark – I would want to do matches, commentary… Dark doesn’t exist without Tony Khan and Q.T. Marshall.” Has been amazing in helping them find and develop new talent.
Amy Demity from Wrestle Joy asked how it felt to cement the legacy of TNT Title so far and who Cody saw as someone to carry that torch forward. Cody talked again about 20 years of preconditioned thoughts that a second title is a secondary title. Cody then said he was hot he didn’t get the top spot in PWI 500 and then came back to say Pac, Darby Allin, Scorpio Sky, and Moxley.
Sean Laolas of CBR asked about AEW’s phasing back in wrestlers and ideas that had been phased out of the scene. Cody talked about Vader’s pairing with Harley Race and how their goal was to show elder statesmen and women of their industry. He cited that Arn’s coached him since 2007 and that no one was harder on him as a coach after he got back from the ring than Arn. Cody followed up with his factions focus, and added Lee Johnson as a young gun in his Nightmare Family to develop with Arn as his coach. Also talked about the New Japan approach where the faction is a brotherhood, and it’s real the relationships between the squads are. Cody finished with memories of how his father at times was treated as a joke and how that wasn’t something he liked and wanted to make a change.
Stephanie Chase Digital Spy asked about AEW plans to come to the UK in 2021. Cody’s goal as an executive is to grow the company and gave Chris Harrington a shout out for his analytics regarding penetration into the UK Market via ITV. Cody said that discussions have occurred and when the gates open post-COVID AEW will absolutely be in the UK. Cody said it was great to have Pac back, Anthony Ogogo and looking forward to the future with ITV.
Write In from Andrea Hanst from Sportskeeda asked about Young Bucks taking a page from Cody’s book regarding winning the tag titles or never challenging again. Cody said it isn’t his fault for not challenging. He cited that MJF was to blame. Cody said he refuses to have an asterisk to his career as an exec to have nepotism judge him, and how the wrestling “smarties” giving Dusty a hard time. For the Bucks, Cody applauded them for the bravery of the stipulation and how much their families want them to succeed, but “it’s dangerous and can bite them in the ass.”
Mike Johnson PWInsider asked Cody how he handles being the right hand of Tony Khan while also wrestling and maintaining outside ventures. Cody said even though Tony is end-all, be-all, he’s happy to have the boys and girls come to him and lead by example. Cody also said his focus is to be aware, build new stars and follow the data because this can go away quick. Talked about Starks and others and how AEW is the only company with a top, middle, bottom to their crew. Gave names like Anna Jay and Will Hobbs as wrestlers that can move up in the year to come.
Jonathan McMahon from Bodyslam asked about the third hour of AEW programming separate from Dynamite TNT had agreed to produce. Cody reiterated it would not be Dark, and that while there’s no news to announce, it is still in works.
Timothy Battle from IHeartRadio asked about a cross-promotional super show, or perhaps Cody vs. Aldis III. Cody said that more that Billy and Tony talk, the more there may be a Cody vs. Aldis III, but in terms of a show with “two banners” more likely there will not be a show of that nature.
Final question came via write-in and asked whose idea it was for Cinderella for the Omega – Page match, the potential for more 80s hair music and importance of music for AEW. Tony and Kenny were interested in Cinderella, and Mikey Rukus is always a great part of their team.
Cody finished thanking everyone for the call and looked forward to the next call and thoughts on Full Gear are welcome.