Friday, August 14, 2020

Cody Rhodes AEW Media Briefing Recap

AEW Executive Vice President Cody took part in a media briefing Thursday afternoon to promote Saturday’s Double or Nothing pay-per-view.

Cody faces Lance Archer at the show to crown the first-ever AEW TNT Champion.

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Here are some highlights and full audio from the ~45-minute call:

It has been an honor to continue working during the COVID-19 pandemic. He takes a lot of pride in providing a ‘bright spot’ for fans during this difficult time.

The final card for AEW Double or Nothing is approximately 90% of what they had planned back in March before the world changed. Not a lot changed on the creative side as a result of COVID-19.

What is Cody’s mindset, as a performer and an EVP, going into the second annual Double or Nothing? Cody said his mindset heading into the second year of AEW is self awareness. They are all evolving. The mindset is to continue making Double or Nothing destination programming. Without live crowds, there is less instant feedback.

Cody said it’s an honor to be in the finals of the TNT Championship tournament. Cody said Warner/Turner requested the creation of the belt, which he thinks might be a first.

He ran down the card again, touting the selling points for each match. Cody said he’s particularly looking forward to MJF vs. Jungle Boy. Said they remind him of a young Steve Austin and Dustin Rhodes, in that they are young guys vying to be the next big thing.

He loves the challenge of their current working environment. It can be a nightmare for the athletes, but they’re “sharpened their swords” and are becoming even more well-rounded performers.

They don’t yet know what rules will govern the TNT Championship. It might be a workhorse title, it might have certain stipulations about how often it will be defended. “We’ll see how it goes.” Cody has not even seen the belt.

When asked about what it’s been like working at Daily’s Place the past few weeks, Cody loves the venue. “There are a lot of tools in the sandbox.” He’s enjoyed the sunsets and the wind that are present in the open-air amphitheater. They have a lot of contingencies in place when the rest of the country opens up. If they wrestled at Daily’s Place for the foreseeable future, he’d have no problem with that.

The current plan is to stay in one spot, Jacksonville, for their tapings, even if other states allow sports events without crowds. This minimizes health risks and is easier all-around. Cody said there are other decision makers who have input over this, but that’s his preference.

Has AEW had to make any adjustments during the COVID-19 pandemic that he can see carrying over once things get back to normal? Cody says he can see handshakes behind the scenes going away. The locker room is like a brotherhood and they take each others lives into their hands. It’s customary to shake hands and thank your opponent for your match and keeping you safe. That might be a thing of the past.

They have been very fortunate to have nobody test positive COVID-19.

Are there any advantages/positives to having shows without fans in attendance? The overlying advantage is that you’re really tested as a performer and a competitor. Aside from that, they miss the fans dearly. Every aspect of a really good wrestling match plays off the crowd.

Regarding Mike Tyson’s involvement, Cody said he was at last year’s Double or Nothing. Over the course of the last year, Tyson has become a ‘hardcore’ AEW fan. Mike Tyson presenting the TNT Championship this Saturday night was one of the last creative elements they finalized for the show.

Will we see the TNT Championship belt before Saturday night? There has been talk of the belt being seen before the pay-per-view, but his personal preference is for us to see it live for the first time at the show.

When asked about who he sees as the next breakout star in AEW, Cody named MJF, as much as he doesn’t like Max as a person. He also named Sammy Guevara as an incredibly special talent, as well as Hikaru Shida and Wardlow.

Cody said that having wrestlers and staff sitting at ringside has helped a great deal with the overall ambiance of the show. The last thing you ever want is silence.

Cody reiterated that all of the scheduled shows from the past couple months have been postponed, not canceled. Their plans to tour internationally might be delayed, but they will get there.

Is “Broken” Matt Hardy an official member of The Elite? “Matt Hardy is wonderful,” he began. Last night at Dynamite, Matt was talking to the younger talent and he loved to see the veteran taking the young guys under his wing. As for The Elite, Cody said The Elite is the original. The OG’s. The Elite is Kenny Omega, Matt & Nick Jackson. Then there’s the ‘expanded universe’ of the Elite, which includes himself Hangman Page, Marty Scurll and Matt Hardy, to his estimation. At the end of the day, Kenny and the Bucks decide who is considered Elite.

Order AEW Double or Nothing now at BR Live (US) and FITE.TV (International).

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