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Cody Rhodes on ‘Double or Nothing,’ EVP rumors, AEW growth

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AEW star Cody Rhodes joined media members on a conference call on Thursday to promote the company’s upcoming “Double or Nothing” pay-per-view (Sunday, 8 p.m. ET).

What they had us there for: ‘Double or Nothing’

On his opponent, Anthony Ogogo

“He has the look, the charm, and one thing I got to see firsthand initially with his training was his skill in the ring,” Rhodes said. “Now, Anthony and I don’t necessarily get along, and I can’t take credit for training him. That is definitely going to go to QT Marshall, who’s if not the best trainer in the entire world, not the friendliest guy. I’m very curious to see where he’s at now.

“I don’t think he’s ready for this type of scenario against me on a pay-per-view under the bright lights. I don’t think he’s ready for it. But only time will tell. We will find out at ‘Double or Nothing,’” Rhodes said.

A little bit – OK, a heaping helping – of kayfabe there.

Next, for the EVP view.

“But yeah, I think, I would hope, he has a great showing because, us not having a developmental, and the Nightmare Factory, and to a degree Create-A-Pro, being almost unofficial, and very unofficial at that, developmental, we want to know that we’re able to turn out and create new stars, and that is the most important thing, replenishing the stars to grow and keep our industry going. So yeah, all eyes on Anthony Ogogo this Sunday to see how he’s grown,” Rhodes said.

On what it will be like to work in front of 5,500 fans at the live show

“I think what you’ll see with the show on Sunday is a lot of perhaps plans or strategies on how people were going to perform and compete altered by the fact that crowds are back. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see some tears because, gosh,” Rhodes said.

“Pandemic wrestling has had some absolute bright spots, the TNT title being the one I always think of the most, but it’s time to get back in front of crowds, and I think it will heavily alter and affect the show,” Rhodes said. “I cannot wait. They’re going to have to hold me back from jumping into the crowd and just wanting to be right there with them. That’s such a huge part of the music that we made. They’re really the orchestra for it.

“I’ve just been texting with different members of the roster just this morning, I was talking with Eddie Kingston, and just all of us, it’s all underlying that backstage environment and that energy,” Rhodes said. “We’re ready for this. We’re ready, and to be coming back to a full house Dailey’s Place Jacksonville. ‘Double or Nothing’ is the perfect spot for, as we mentioned, the very first day AEW show. And now it’s the first show to let fans back in pro wrestling as a whole. So, my heart is full for Sunday.

Next, to the juicy stuff

On the rumors that the company’s four EVPs aren’t on speaking terms

“When I heard that that story was floating around, it is one of the things I chalked up as, we’ve been very successful,” Rhodes said. “With NXT losing the Wednesday Night Wars, that created a lot of anger. I understand. There’s a lot of hardcore NXT and WWE fans out there. And that’s why those stories, stories like that, don’t surprise me. I think people need to cling to something.

“As sexy as that story is, I talked to Matt and Nick every day. I talk to Kenny very often. I support their projects fully. They’ve been supportive of all my projects,” Rhodes said.

“We would not be able to put this show on the air – Tony’s the man, and Tony’s the boss – but we would not be able to put this show on the air if the four of us were not functioning as one team. So, we, really, unfortunately, it’s not very sexy to say, but there’s no truth to that. Again, we’re one team, and now with us expanding onto TBS, we will remain one team,” Rhodes said.

On that silly thing he said recently about focus-grouping his ‘Double or Nothing’ promo

“I’m going to chalk this up to me not knowing what the term focus group means,” Rhodes said. “I woke up this morning to a very large amount of people in my mentions, almost all of them with a Roman Reigns or Sasha Banks avatar, making fun of me for using the term focus group. I did not focus group this promo. What I intended to say, and I did not say correctly, so chalk this up to me being a dummy, I work on my promos very hard. And a lot of the old timers who said, oh, I was just doing it on the fly, I would say they worked on theirs very hard, whether it be in the gym, whether it be in the car looking in the rear view.

“When it comes to my promos, the process is, usually, I voice memo it out to the people I trust the most – the legends in our industry, some coaches and some members of management, and I like to see what they think. But absolutely not. There is no AEW focus group that is listening to my interviews,” Rhodes said.

“I got to see a really great working relationship firsthand between Brian Gerwitz and The Rock, and I know that’s an incredibly lofty comparison, but it’s one to shoot for because of him being such an exceptional entertainer and promo,” Rhodes said. “I like to take mine very seriously. I like to be all business about them. And last year, I was so fortunate and humbled to have won a bunch of those promo awards like with Inside the Ropes and various outlets like that. And I just want to continue to deliver really good content whenever I put the mic to my lips.

Company stuff

On the growth of AEW since the inaugural ‘Double or Nothing’

“I’m not surprised at the expansion. But I have always been the eternal pessimist,” Rhodes said. “And the reasoning for that is I grew up in a wrestling family. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, oh, this, this show is going to get TV, and this is going to be on this network. And it was not until Tony Kahn that wrestling was able to be brought back to a comparable network and actually have a alternative and a challenger in the space that has been almost two decades. So, even that, I know this can all in just on the drop of a hat. But it is amazing how quickly we’ve expanded, especially now expanding into the TBS territory.

“As far as my vision, my vision, I think, has intersected with the Bucks’ vision, and with Kenny’s vision, and of course with Tony’s vision, and that I really enjoy, because it creates a fluid identity for the show itself,” Rhodes said. “There’s nothing that it’s just going to be AEW 101, or trying to think of another way toward it, but just, it’s never business as usual with AEW, especially with the roster that we have.

“I think my vision is, it’s been truly respected, it’s intersected with the Bucks’ vision, with Kenny’s vision, and then Tony’s outlook on what wrestling can be, and kind of his fearless endeavoring, and to keep expanding and growth and the success story we’ve been for Warner Media. All this long-winded answer to say, I’m not surprised. But it’s absolutely something I do not take for granted, that we’ve been able to expand and bring so many casual and lapsed fans back into the space,” Rhodes said.

On the addition of a second weekly TV show, ‘Rampage’

“Tony is not lying to you when he said that ‘Rampage’ will be treated with the same care that that ‘Dynamite’ is, I know comparable in the business,” Rhodes said. “Often when a new show comes up, it might be considered a secondary show. This is not unlike the TNT title was never intended on being a secondary title.

“A lot of people are really concerned about what happens with ‘Dark’ and ‘Dark Elevation.’ Those are fan favorite pieces of content, and we are absolutely going to continue to produce them,” Rhodes said. “I’m excited as we travel to not only be touching the independent scene from Georgia, Florida, Alabama and the South, we’re going to be able to look at it a little bit case by case as we’re going to be different markets, which has always been something to look forward to when it comes to ‘Elevation,’ or when it comes to ‘Dark’ itself.

“‘Rampage’ and ‘Dynamite’ are very much going to be complementary shows. They are not competing brands. The rosters are not split,” Rhodes said. “They will lead in to the four mega events that we do for TNT. And if you know anything about us, with what we’ve just put on TV, we’re not a saving for the pay-per-view type company we have four pay per views a year. And that logic is, in this economy, it’s passe to say this, because we’re paid for the TV content, and paid incredibly well, so those four specials will be all our ‘Clash of the Champions.’ That is the best example I can give you, other than perhaps ‘Saturday Night’s Main Event.’

“They will be mega events,” Rhodes said. “As you know Tony likes the theme ‘Dynamites’ often per holidays per events. And these will be converging stories, is a good way to look at it. Then you’ll see when it comes to the four specials, but ‘Rampage,’ ‘Elevation,’ ‘Dark,’ ‘Dynamite,’ they might have all individual identities, but they’re all held as a priority.”

Story by Chris Graham

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