Why Cody Rhodes chose D.C. for AEW television debut

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By 106.7 The Fan

When Cody Rhodes brings his All Elite Wrestling outfit to Capital One Arena in October, he'll bring with him some of the most renowned wrestlers in the world, none of whom are affiliated with WWE, the world's most renowned wrestling promotion.

"Cody," as he's billed himself in AEW – the upstart promotion he launched alongside fellow wrestling stars Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) – is doing things his own way, free from the heavily scripted structure his former employer has been defined by. As a worldwide audience of fans are transfixed on AEW, Cody won't be slowing down to admire the phenomenon he's created.

"I can't stop just yet. We've got a long way to go," Cody said in an interview with Chad Dukes on 106.7 The Fan. "It's a very exciting time. I travel the road with my wife, my partner in crime, and she's part of this act, so it's, sometimes you don't even have to stop. You're with the person you love the most and that's a cool thing.

"So to take this ride with her keeps me grounded, at least as much as we can be while we're trying to keep ramping up and keep doing things that people say we can't do. It's a crazy time to be a wrestler, and it's a damn good time to be a wrestling fan, no matter which way this shakes out."

October's Capital One Arena event will also feature stars Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley (formerly known as Dean Ambrose) and carries lofty significance for the promotion. It coincides with AEW's nationally televised debut on TNT. Tickets go on sale Friday at noon.

Below is a Q&A containing a partial transcript of Cody's interview with Dukes (questions in bold). Audio of the full interview:

What made you decide that this building, this market – you could have gone anywhere and sold the barn out – what made you decide that D.C. was the place you wanted to kick this thing off?

We had a really strong presence in terms of, in this era, you're able to track a lot of data. And I know that might sound like, 'Whoa. That's the nerdiest answer ever.' But you're able to track a lot of data and see where, okay, where did the most views come from for BR Live and things of that nature? And when I say we've got these artists who are running this, and these inmates who are running the asylum, one of the best things that we've done – myself, Matt, Nick and Kenny – as EVPs with AEW, one of the best things we've done is said, 'Okay, we don't know how to do this, so let's hire somebody who does.'

I'll give you an example. Rafael Morffi, who came from WWE and was there with me as our market rep, that's the individual who can look all across the board, and who can strategically place us in the best market and service every market that we possibly can, and reflect that data that's been reflected, and appease that, and all that math and all that science. We've built a really great team around us, and short answer, I'm a huge fan of American history. I'm the American frickin' nightmare. It makes perfect sense that we're in Washington, D.C., the nation's capital. So that's the short answer. The long answer is that we've got a lot of really wonderful professional people who said this is the spot you want to be for the first show.

This is a question maybe you can't answer. What do your text messages look like from people that are under contract at other promotions? I can't even imagine what happens. Luke Harper's a favorite of mine. Every day I just refresh all the blogs, saying, 'Is this the day he shows up in AEW?' But there's probably a hundred guys that people are looking at, and women as well. What is that process like with this? You're not talent. You're a guy that's running this whole thing with your partners. That must happen all the time for you.
Sure. And that is a really great question, and I can talk about it. You've got to basically differentiate. The tricky thing is we're friends. We are all brothers in arms, sisters in arms in this industry. We're the ones who go out there and take the bumps. Nobody sitting in a corporate office is taking those same bumps, or on the road and in between the ropes.

So there's a camaraderie there and there's a level of, we're allowed to talk with anybody we want to talk to, as friends, but when it gets beyond friendly and it gets beyond personal, that's an area where I've had to grow up, and Matt, Nick and Kenny have had to grow up. And that's an area where we've had to, 'Okay, well we can't talk to you, cause you're under contract.' Or, 'We can talk to you, but it will be at this date.' And that's not always easy for some of your friends. That's not the easiest pill to swallow, when everybody just wants to kind of... you know, you've got to just separate and differentiate when you're talking as friends and when you're talking in business.

The calculated move of, I mean you walked out onto a sold-out building. You whip out a sledgehammer and then you blow up a throne.That's not exactly like – you're not being passive-aggressive there. What was that process like? I think there's a lot of other promotions that have attempted what you all are attempting, and like, we don't want to be conflictory. We want to coexist with this other giant promotion. When did you guys come up with the decision that we're going to start letting everyone know that we're in direct competition with the WWE, and that's gonna be a part of what we do? 

Well I mean, the safe term to say is we're the alternative, because that is true, in terms of you can watch us in lieu of watching WWE, perhaps. There's an option, a place elsewhere on television that you can go to. But saying 'alternative' is almost just kind of insulting to people. Naturally, this is going to be competitive, naturally, because there's not that much wrestling out there. 

The decision to blow up the throne was my decision alone and doesn't reflect on AEW at all. It was something I had thought long and hard about, and I, honestly, think it came from more of a personal standpoint than the company firing that first shot. And that's gonna be something that, I don't know how many more of those I get in me, because as I become more engrained in the AEW business side, as an employee and as one of the executive vice presidents, I don't get as many, 'Oh, well he's just a dumb talent doing dumb things.'

Plain and simple, I was a huge fan of Triple H. I learned a great deal from Triple H, a great deal. I probably wrestled him in the Capital One Arena. But when push came to shove and I thought I was better than 99 percent of the people he was putting ahead of me, he didn't see that. So in that moment, there is no greater revenge in the world than success. So I knew I was walking out to a sold-out crowd, wrestling a 50-year-old man in a match that people, at one point, deemed unworthy and the place was literally shaking. So I felt no need. Like, this is the perfect time to do it, to fire my own shot, and it was my own shot, not an AEW shot.
Psycho Clown and Cain Velasquez, and yourself, that is the most interesting three-way tag team I think I've ever heard of. How did that come together? And Cain Velasquez – I'm a huge MMA fan – that guy was gonna be the banner carrier for the next few years. Injuries kind of kind of threw him off course the past couple of years. But really excited to see him in a professional wrestling environment. How is that match going to come together?

Well, it's a really good kind of snapshot of what the AEW and the AAA partnership looks like. You know, Psycho Clown's the most popular AAA star at the moment, and incredibly young and hungry, and a great face for their brand. And to have Cain, with all his experience and the fandom that he's bringing over, has never experienced anything like this.

I can only tell ya that my understanding of how far along he is as a pro wrestler, I got to watch a few clips of his, and it scares me. He's one of those scary athletes, if you know what I'm talking about. There's some people. Ronda was no different, scary athlete. You go to a wrestling school today and it takes people years to learn how to hit the ropes. It takes them years to learn how to properly headlock takeover somebody.

Some of the stuff this guy can already pull off is really, genuinely just scary to me, and I'm looking forward to being on the apron. It's one of those moments like you talked about when we first started chatting. Every now and then in the ring, even in the zone, even in focus, you can take a moment and go, 'Wow. This is really crazy the type of wrestling world we're living in.' And I hope I get to take that moment watching Cain at Triplemania this weekend.

If not us... WHOIt not now... WHENJoin us for history, when wrestling returns to TNT after 18 long years. Tix on Sale Tomorrow at Noon ET: https://t.co/Mkkpaf90e6 pic.twitter.com/AlxX6o8VI5

— All Elite Wrestling on TNT (@AEWonTNT) August 1, 2019

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