Cody Rhodes' life, at least for the moment, is finally returning to normal. The All Elite Wrestling executive vice president and his wife, Brandi Rhodes, have their first child on the way and have their reality show, Rhodes to the Top, set to release later this year. But before all of that happens, Rhodes will take part in AEW's Double or Nothing pay-per-view this Sunday. This show marks the first time AEW has been able to run at full capacity since the COVID-19 pandemic began, meaning the seats of Daily's Place will be filled with cheering fans instead of wrestlers for the first time in over a year.
"I know what the footprint looks like for Daily's Place for Double or Nothing and for Dynamite, the subsequent Dynamites that surround it, and what our market rep Raphael has set up. However, it still doesn't seem real and it probably won't feel real until we walk out and actually see, 'Well, it's not the locker room in the crowd at the moment. It's not the good guys and the bad guys. It's literally actual paying fans right there, six feet away.' And that's going to be an incredible feeling," Rhodes said in an interview with ComicBook.com on Tuesday. "That'll change the whole dynamic of the show. There's a lot that we can prepare for and get ready for, but maybe it's like riding a bicycle, performing in front of fans, but I think we're going to be so grateful as a company, as a whole, that it will be a really beautiful event having them so close and having them back."
Rhodes went on to talk about all of the changes coming to AEW, the promotion's first Blood & Guts match, his upcoming with Anthony Ogogo and more! You can check out the full interview below.
What was your reaction to AEW getting moved to TBS next year?
Tony [Khan] was able to facilitate the best possible deal for All Elite Wrestling, and that means more money for the content, and then more importantly, the term that Brett [Weitz] at WarnerMedia used is the best term, it truly is an expansion. We're just expanding our brand on to TBS, that being Rampage, coming over to TBS, Dynamite itself, four specials, a la Clash of the Champions, our Saturday Night's Main Event. Those were kind of comparable. Having those on TNT, we're really all over, and just watching the upfronts for WarnerMedia to see our penetration and presentation, made me really proud that we've been such a nice success story.
So for me, I was excited. I'm always kind of the eternal ... I'm very reserved in what I think, and so we put it out there on the medium, but it would be remiss if I didn't think of the fact that TBS has been a part of my life since I was a little kid. Tony Schiavone texted me that morning, and of course he said, "We're going back to the mothership." And the mothership is what my father used to call TBS, for good reason, because they took that first chance on WCW and Jim Crockett Promotions. And now they'll have all of the wrestling and some familiar names, and a very unique bell-to-bell product. So I'm ecstatic. Plus I'm a psycho American Dad fan. Just to share the space with them and perhaps to do a little cross-promotion would be a really fun thing to do.
You touched on it there for a second — should fans view those TNT supercards as what Clash of the Champions used to be?
Yeah, that's a really good way [to look at it]. I mean, in wrestling, you take these things and they become these old comparables, and you use them as examples. But with All Elite Wrestling, it's been really hard, because everything we do is perhaps rooted in a piece of history, but then it's a spin, and then it becomes its entirely own thing, has its own identity. But yeah, I would definitely look at Clash of the Champions as something. And then Saturday Night's Main Event as well, as what these are. They'd be super events, type events where the titles are on the line, where big stories converge. But that being said, we don't save anything. That old kind of passe, "Oh, save it for the pay-per-view." Well, we only do four pay-per-views a year, and what people are watching and our biggest audience is on TNT and it will become TBS. It's very hard to think of stuff to save, but we have such a roster. There's so many matches that haven't been touched on. Those four specials will be very special indeed, in-house and arena, and on TNT. I think it'll be a whole new ball game for wrestling fans.
I know a lot of fans were asking about this. Will you guys change the name of the TNT Championship when the move to TBS happens?
I don't want to drop any spoilers, but I mean, I'll drop a spoiler. I don't think we're going to change the title's name one bit. TNT is the place that the first alternative challenger brand in two decades appeared on. Their excitement, our partners at WarnerMedia, and the TNT title, as I've stated, I think it is, if not the most important title in wrestling, the second most important title in wrestling. I don't see us changing that name, and I think that's kind of across the board. I don't think you'll find anybody in management or Tony himself who wants to change that name. We'll always roll with the punches and we'll always pivot, but I'm 99% sure the TNT title stays the TNT title.
So you're adding in AEW Rampage as a weekly show. Do you think that's going to help with how you guys with the pacing of Dynamite?
The format for Dynamite is always fun to look at, unique, and the challenge of every week covering so many stories, determining the most important stories, appeasing the stories that do well with the audience itself, because we're a data company at heart. Chris Harrington and Tony Khan are looking at what moves the needle, and that's what's going to be out there, and that's what's going to be prioritized.
I think having Rampage will help considerably. That way we can share the wealth. However, Dynamite's a very hard show to get on. The best wrestlers in the world are on Dynamite. We have a very full locker room, and on the way to the ring, you walk by a lot of people who are on the bench that week. I think you'll see a lot of that bench get unloaded for Rampage, and that's very, very exciting. And the two shows will have their own identities surrounding the AEW championships that kind of tether us all together. But other than the logo for Rampage, the details are all still forthcoming, other than I think it will be really great for our locker room.
Moving back to Double or Nothing — you announced that for your match with Anthony Ogogo that you'd be using Dusty's "American Dream" nickname for one night only. Anybody who knows you knows that's a huge deal. How did this idea come about?
So as I was workshopping the promo, and the ultimate thing in wrestling is the finish, the finish, the finish, the finish, it was just something that came up, because the story of ... I mean, Anthony is over here living the American dream, the story of the American dream and how it relates to wrestling, with so many great wrestlers coming from other countries, and making their home here, and having such huge success. And it just felt right, and I don't like doing anything until it feels right. And if there was one night I could do it, this would be the night that it would make the most sense. It really is a story of two gentlemen living the American dream, both of us, my own and his own. And as I was workshopping it, I didn't have a finish, and then I just came on that and I couldn't go anywhere else. I worked with a few other things, but I couldn't go anywhere else, and I'm looking forward to it.
One thing, I think it might be kind of misleading. I can't assume that all wrestling fans know all the history of wrestling. Of course some fans started today. They saw Darby Allin and they want to watch. Whatever it may be. So a lot of people might have made the assumption. It was going to be Dusty Rhodes, polka dots, 'Hard Times,' Common Man Boogie, and it was more of a spiritual thing for me, and a coming of age, to do at one time. But it will look very differently than anything of that brief Dusty run by any means. But yeah, it does mean a lot. And again, it may not totally click with me how much it means until I hear it said.
You guys had your first Blood & Guts Match a few weeks ago and Dusty played a huge role in developing the original concept. How do you feel about how the match was received from within the industry?
I got up on top of the cage earlier in the day just to feel it, to see it and look at it. And then across the parking lot is Jacksonville Memorial, where WarGames '92 was, the greatest WarGames match of all time. The Stinger Squadron and the Dangerous Alliance. So there's a lot of kismet and synergy. I would have literally, had you asked me, "Hey, we'll take your left pinky right now. We'll cut it off your hand." To be in that match, I would have done it, but it wasn't in the cards. And one of my favorite things ever was Chris Jericho talked to me the week before, and it was a private conversation, but he made it to a degree public, and just told me how he wished I could be in it, but it didn't work out, and that they were going to do it justice. And they did it justice by giving it its own identity.
It can't be Jim Crockett WarGames, and it can't be WarGames that NXT does, but it can be rooted in the original rules with an actual roof on the cage, two teams. And I just had a blast watching it, seeing Shaun Spiers in there, seeing, Wardlow, who's been a project at AEW from jump street, seeing Chris being able to tell his story, and then Max [MJF[, as much as I don't get along with Max necessarily, I still think he's my little baby, a little kid, and seeing him grow up right before my eyes is shocking. But yeah, no. I think of all things, there were people who had their opinions on that match, opinions on the finish of that match. The number one thing I took away from it is, we will definitely be doing a Blood and Guts again. That it hit the mark well enough that we will be returning to do another Blood and Guts.
Now I polled the fans on Twitter to see if they had questions, got a couple here. AJ Awesome asks 'Can you confirm whether or not Full Gear will be in St. Louis later this year?'
Well, I like AJ Awesome, and I can't confirm, but I can say watch the pay-per-view this weekend, and you might get some further news. And I can go a step further and say, hypothetically, AJ Awesome is right, and the pay-per-view is in St. Louis, then we would love to have AJ as a media representative. The Chief Brand Officer, my wife, is in the room right now, trying to do everything she can to distract me, but she's in charge of those things, so she would set him up.
Got another question here — will you be switching back to your original "Kingdom" theme in the near future?
Yeah. I'm going to switch back to it at the pay-per-view. I think we indicated that to a degree on social. Well, Brandi's got her opinions. Brandi is a fan of the Snoop Dogg version of Kingdom. And I am a fan of both versions. Of course the Snoop version, but this version was something that's actually been tweaked to a degree by Mikey Ruckus. The original version will play this weekend, live in front of a full capacity crowd at Double or Nothing.
A question I've always had about that song — did you personally work with Downstait on crafting that?
We actually worked really closely on it. I think Justin [Call] and I spoke, but I was able to just give them my, I guess, theme. Really the theme of me, and what I was going through at the time when I left WWE in 2015. I wanted an original song. They're so active in the wrestling community, and so beloved, and they were able to turn it around. We gave them a couple of comparables, like Throne, that song Throne, some Yellowcard stuff that I had really liked, but they were able to make their own piece of business out of it. And I didn't know how beloved it was. And so I chose the song, and that's just a great sign, because I carried that song with me through New Japan, through Ring of Honor, on every independent show I could be on, and moving it further into All Elite Wrestling. That song will be with me wherever I go.
Moving on to some fun stuff! Last time we talked Nintendo had just confirmed Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2. Have you had the time to dip back into Zelda?
Well, I was playing Hyrule Warriors, that Hyrule Warriors on my Switch. I redid Breath of the Wild, and I originally only defeated Breath of the Wild on the handheld. I never played on my TV, because I had one of those generation one Switches where there's a weird lag, and I just didn't seem like fixing it. Then I went back and played it on the actual big screen TV. It's such a grest [game.] The gameplay in Breath of the Wild, they absolutely set a new standard for Zelda, and the story is the thing that people were wanting a little bit more of. They left enough meat on the bone with it, but I dabble in that. I have the SNES classic games on my Switch, so I still dabble in Link to the Past. Zelda and the whole crew is always part of my world. When it's [Super] Smash [Bros.], I'm always Toon Link. Yeah. I can't not. Mario Kart, I'm also always Link. It's just my world. I love it too much.
Who is the best Smash player on the roster?
That's a good question. One thing I found out in my little circle of friends, especially with Rhodes to the Top filming, my house has been filled every day with my, no pun intended, inner circle of people. And somebody who's deceivingly good at all games, and I think it's just because he's the right age that he is in the pocket, I don't know if he'd be considered Generation Z, but Ricky Starks.
Ricky Starks probably is the best at any game you put in front of him, if you get him just a few minutes, one go round. But also, which is shocking, because he's really non-intelligent, very dumb jock, is 10, is Preston Vance, which I just found out his shoot name is Cody, and I legitimately didn't know it. But Preston Vance, one of the dumbest people I've ever met, but biggest heart on earth, is a great Smash and Mario Strikers player. He's just good, which is frustrating, because he's so dumb.
Last thing, your friend Stephen Amell has his new wrestling series Heels coming out soon. Are you involved in the show in any way?
I was talked to a lot about it. Stephen's my friend, and the production and I had a lot of conversations with them. I was not actually involved other than lending an ear a few occasions, but this is entirely their thing. Stephen loves wrestling so much and is such a hard worker, I think he'll always respect the wrestling fan first, so that's something I'm looking forward to.
And speaking of, Stephen's winery, Nocking Point, is actually sponsoring the Fan Fest on Saturday, which is really cool. And they're sponsoring me going into the weigh-in, which is really nice, because these weigh-ins, I always want them to be on the level of boxing and UFC, and I'm looking forward to this one on Friday night. But yeah, I think Heels, I'm very curious to see. I saw [CM] Punk. When he was down here, he made a visit to The Nightmare Factory when he was filming his stuff, and that's really exciting. Punk in any ring, in any capacity, his audience being so large, and him being so beloved by our world, I really look forward to what he does on the show too. With Stephen and somebody like Punk, the show has to be a success, because they're just hard workers. They're detail-oriented guys. Stephen's the most detail-oriented guy I've ever met. I bet the show kicks ass.
Will we see Amell in an AEW ring?0comments
So Steven gets me excited. "Oh, let's do this. Let's do this. Let's do this." And then I'll write a little treatment out, and then it's, "Well, I'm doing this movie." I don't know. I think Stephen will absolutely appear on AEW television moving forward. I know it's difficult, because he broke his hip wrestling for Christopher Daniels at All In, which very few people know. So I don't know how excited he is about returning. I know he wants to do it, but he's got a family. It's not ballet, but I could see Stephen getting in the ring, for sure, for one more time. I could see that.
AEW's Double or Nothing takes place this Sunday live on pay-per-view, beginning at 8 p.m. ET.