SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
The following are the highlights from AEW EVP Cody Rhode’s media call ahead of the Double or Nothing PPV on May 30. Pro Wrestling Torch columnist Sean Radican was part of the conference call.
Cody opened the call by saying hello to everybody. He said the past year has been quite a journey. He said it’s been an honor to put on shows for fans, but they are looking forward to hitting the road. Rhodes mentions they’re expecting a full house for Double or Nothing on Sunday.
•I asked Cody the following: “Warner clearly thinks high of you in terms of your star power and ability to translate beyond AEW. You’ve been part of Go Big Show and now you’re starting the filming of your own reality TV series with Brandi. You’ve said many times in interviews that AEW is a data driven company. Why haven’t you pushed into the main event scene more regularly either by carrying the ball as world champion or in other ways.
Cody said he’s aware of his numbers and reach and he’s chased those fans for a decade before the noise got made. He said he’s going to keep his promise to not challenge for the AEW Championship. Cody said he made a promise and they want him to keep his promise. He said with his segment or any segment he produces, he tries to make it just as valuable as the main event.
Cody said he’s tried to steal the show with everyone he’s worked with. He mentions working with Darby Allin and how he’s been established. Cody said he won’t break that promise and turn heel. Rhodes said he tries to make the best of what he has and that challenges the segments around him to keep up with him. Rhodes said he likes to challenge the people above and below him.
•Cody is asked about Rampage and what the show will entail and how it will compare to other AEW shows. Rhodes said he’s excited for Rampage. He said personally he’s looking forward to getting people off the bench. He said it’s exciting to spread the wealth and mentions AEW will be adding to the roster. He said Rampage will launch on Jan. 1 and it will be an expansion of Dynamite. He said it will reestablish TBS as the undisputed place for wrestling.
•Izzy asks a question. Cody tells her he doesn’t know how she got on this call. She asks him about going into the match as The American Dream and whether or not its a statement match. Cody said it fit so well because it’s memorial day weekend and both men in the match are living the American dream. He said it was time to pick up that sword and shield. He said it’s a one night only thing. He said he will be trying to make a statement as a wrestler and a member of the Rhodes family.
•Cody is asked about Ogogo being signed out of the Nightmare Factory and what his potential is. Cody says Anthony Ogogo is AEW’s first developmental wrestler. He said DDP introduced him to Cody. He says DDP tells him 10 people a day will change his life. He said he doesn’t know what DDP’s batting average is, but he wasn’t wrong about Ogogo. He said he saw Ogogo’s skill first hand while he was training. He said he can’t take credit for training him, as QT Marshall trained him. He said he doesn’t thing Ogogo is ready for this type of scenario on a PPV, but only time will tell and they will find out at Double or Nothing. Cody says he hopes he has a great showing because they don’t have an official developmental. They want to know they’re able to turn out and create new stars.
•Rhodes is asked about the EVPs not being on speaking terms. He’s asked if it is true and what he thought when he heard that out there. Rhodes said he chalked it up as AEW being successful and with NXT losing the Wednesday night wars that created a lot of anger. He said people need to cling to something and as sexy as that story is He said he talks to Matt and Nick every day and Omega quite often. He said they wouldn’t be able to put the show on if they were fighting. Rhodes said they will remain one team going forward to TBS.
•Cody is asked about who he workshops his promo in front of. He said he doesn’t know what the term focus group means. He said he did not use a focus group and said he didn’t use the term correctly. He said he didn’t cut the promo on the fly. He said he voice memos them out to some legends in the industry, coaches, and members of management. He said there’s not an AEW focus group listening to his interviews.
•Cody is asked about being a father figure to wrestlers backstage and the Nightmare Factory. He asks if it will prepare him for being a dad. Rhodes said don’t tell Brandi, but it has honed his patience a great deal working with the beginner camps at the nightmare factory. Rhodes mentions several wrestlers like Brooke Havoc and Danny McQueen. He says they’re kids and he’s proud and he will put his stamp on them. Rhodes said he teaches his kids to be professionals. Rhodes said he doesn’t know how much more time he will have to be at the Nightmare Factory so often, but he genuinely likes it. He said it’s so important that you develop as a wrestler for at least six months before you get out in front of a crowd.
Cody is asked about performing in front of a full crowd at Double or Nothing. He said he expects some tears on wrestlers’ faces when they perform in front of a full crowd. Rhodes said it’s time to get back in front of a full crowd and the show will be altered because of the fact they will be performing in front of a full house. He says he’s been texting other wrestlers and everyone is ready to get out in front of the crowd.
•Cody is asked about Rampage and how it will be the fourth show in a week. He’s asked how it will influence Dark and Elevation. He’s also asked how the quarterly specials will be integrated into the format. Cody says Tony Khan isn’t lying when he says Rampage will get the same care as Dynamite. Cody said this is not a secondary show. Cody says they will also continue to give care to AEW Dark and AEW Dark Elevation. He said both shows will lean into the four TV specials on TNT.
•Cody mentions they’re paid for TV content and paid incredibly well, so those four TV specials will be big events.
•Cody is asked about Double or Nothing 2019 and wrestling Dustin Rhodes. She asks him about AEW’s growth over the last two years from that time to Dynamite launching and now Rampage. Cody said he’s not surprised at the expansion. Rhodes said he’s always been a pessimist because he grew up in a wrestling family. Rhodes said it wasn’t until Tony Khan that a wrestling company came back to a good network and became the first solid challenger in two decades to WWE without mentioning WWE. Rhodes said his vision has intersected with Tony, The Young Bucks, and Kenny Omega’s vision and it creates a fluid identity for the show itself.
•Cody said it’s never business as usual for AEW with the roster they have. He said the EVPs vision combined with Tony’s outlook is fantastic for the company and WarnerMedia. Rhodes said he’s not surprised, but he doesn’t take it for granted that they’ve brought in so many casual and lapsed fans into the space.
•Cody is asked about whether or not we will see Trevor Lawrence or Tim Tebow on Dynamite. He said they better be all elite because they share a lot of the same space. He said Jaguars coach Urban Meyer has been excited about AEW since he saw the Shaq match on TV.
•Cody said in terms of going back on the road, they worked with their legal team to comply with state guidelines and it makes it very easy deciding whether or not to be on the road or use Daily’s Place. Cody said there’s some big announcements about touring that will hit AEW social channels soon.
•Cody is asked about the Hikaru Shida vs. Britt Baker. He’s asked if Baker wins, will she get an action figure. Rhodes says he’s not in control of the action figures. He said Jeremey at Jazzware are in charge. Cody said he’s terrified to see the list of action figures because they release figures that will sell, which is why Cody has been on so many figures. Rhodes said he imagines Baker will get one soon. He said Shida has been the champion for a long time and he’s really excited to see the match. He said Shida is someone he sees that can’t be beat. Rhodes mentions Miro vs. Archer and his match against Ogogo. He said every match could be a main event, which will make for a fun Double or Nothing.
•Cody is asked if there are any matches other than his that he’s looking forward to. Rhodes said he’s looking forward to The Young Bucks vs. Eddie Kingston & Jon Moxley. He said he’s a fan of their work because it’s so different from what he’s grown up on. Rhodes also mentions how excited he is to see Sting in the ring in front of a live crowd for the first time in six years.
•Cody is asked about the TNT Championship not being renamed, but will there be a TBS Championship. Rhodes said it hasn’t been discussed yet. Rhodes said they have been speculating about another table and says hint hint about a lot of teams on the roster, which hints at a trios title.
•Cody is asked about live touring shows returning soon, how can viwers expect Dark and Elevation to be structured in terms of independent talent used. Rhodes said as they travel and tour, the thing that will turn is you’ll see more faces from the market that they’re in.
•Cody is asked about the fans taking side in his feud against Ogogo and bringing politics into pro wrestling. Rhodes said what we’re talking about is the interview and he’s shocked with how much discussion its gotten. Cody said he’s proud to be an American. He said hope outweighs. He said he wasn’t trying to bring racism into his promo; he was just trying to say he’s proud of his wife and baby on the way.
•Cody said Anthony is here living the American Dream. Rhodes mentions he talked about Bruno Sammartino as an Italian immigrant. He said its more interesting for the match if people have interest in the match getting behind him or Anthony.
•Cody is asked about the challenges of keeping things fresh with more content in Rampage. Rhodes said the roster will make it work. Rhodes said he tries to make his segments matter and he hopes it motivates others to do the same. He said the wrestlers are competitive amongst each other and that will drive the shows to be better.
•Cody said putting fresh wrestlers out there and letting them fly will be the way to keep things interesting. He said they don’t micromanage the wrestlers and their promos. They go out there and let them fly.
•Cody was asked if he’s done any special training to prepare for his match against Anthony Ogogo because he throws rib breaking punches. Rhodes said he is prepared and if he wasn’t he would be looking up at the lights.