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