Here is the audio from Cody Rhodes AEW Media Call.
Chris Deez's notes from the call can be found below. Leave a Comment!
Cody Rhodes AEW Conference Call Notes 18-02-20
Jim Babcock introduced everybody to the call and gave a small intro regarding the upcoming 20 episode of AEW Dynamite in Atlanta and briefly mentioned the AEW & TNT deal extension. A few words were also said about AEW Revolution before handing over to Cody.
Cody: “Hey everybody, I’m thrilled to be here talking to you before AEW returns to Atlanta, my hometown. I have great history in the city as both a fan and a wrestler, my family also has a long and rich history there. The recent TNT deal extension is huge for us, we sold more than 100,000 live PPV tickets last year and have seen over 37 million people watching the weekly product so far to date. Super proud of where the company is headed and the success achieved in a short time. I haven’t felt like this about wrestling in a very long time and those feelings are heightened by being back in Atlanta”.
Nick Hausman of Wrestling Inc.: “A couple of months back you brought us the classic WCW event Bash at The Beach. Did you hear anything from WWE regarding this and do you plan to run any more WCW events in the future?”
Cody: “I have a good deal of trademarks under my name and yes some of those happen to be former WCW events. Honestly, I think it is unlikely that we will see many more of these historical events popping up but I can with all certainty say that there will be at least one more. Wink wink! Tony Khan has been great when it comes to new and fresh ideas, Bash at The Beach was simply done because we wanted to have some fun and it was never intended to upset anybody. My father Dusty had a huge hand and influence in creating some of these most historical events in wrestling history, so it is important for me and our family to protect his legacy”.
SportsKeeda - “Who do you believe to be the most underrated performer on the AEW roster? Also, did you ever meet Macho Man Randy Savage and if so, what were those interactions like?”
Cody: “I have lots of fond memories from interactions with Randy Savage as a kid and I was always such a huge fan. What sticks out for me is that he was always the Macho Man, or King, 24/7. Randy always went the extra mile too, I remember that didn’t want anyone to know Elizabeth would be returning at WrestleMania, so he had my mom step in instead to keep the surprise just that. A lot of stuff you read online is generally made up, Randy was a great guy. As for who is the most underrated… underrated is a dirty word to me. So often it gets misinterpreted and misunderstood with people assuming it means underpushed and eve worse, undervalued. That being said, I think the most underrated guy in AEW is Jack Evans. Evans is a super casual guy backstage and people have no idea just how good and capable he is in the ring. He is a very special talent who i would love to have a singles match with. Evans is very underrated but I will think of 100’s more after this who are also underrated, but Evans comes to mind first.”
Bill Pritchard of WrestleZone - “Jeff Cobb showed up and debuted on AEW last week and there have been lots of reports on if he has signed or not. Can you confirm how long we will see him in AEW?”
Cody: “Jeff is very much still in gestation. Jeff is in NJPW, ROH and now AEW. I am a big fan of cobb, i’ve always liked shooters. I’m not one myself due to my limited amateur background but Cobb is a very special athlete. For full transparency, we are in gestation. I would love for him to stay for the long term but if he wants to travel and do his own thing elsewhere that’s absolutely fine. AEW doesn’t have blanket contracts, there are no restrictions on what the talent can or can’t do. Tony Khan has always believed in tailoring contracts to suit the guys and girls involved so that they can pursue whatever means something to them. Back to Cobb, we simply don’t know yet. We have him for longer than just Atlanta, I can say that, and we would love to have him for more as he is a special talent”.
Christian Bruns of Power Wrestling – “Dynamite has been on air for a number of months now. From a creative standpoint, how has it been learning this side of the business? Is it still all 4 EVPs and Tony Khan involved, or have you changed your approach from the early days?”
Cody: “No, there has been no change in the creative process at all, all of the EVP’s and Tony is the core creative structure. We also have advisors all around us who help a lot, some of the best the business has seen like Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, Tazz, Dean Malenko and my brother Dustin. Pardon the joke but we like to keep our inner circle small so that it’s contained on the creative side. There has been no change at all since day one, which is great as we want to keep this team for the long term. There have definitely been little pains and lessons along the way, I know I have learned a lot in the 20 Dynamites that have aired so far about the workload that this will take versus the workload that we first expected. I have learned a lot about being on the other side of things and being in management. You still feel like a wrestler, but people talk to you and treat you differently. I want to be a leader who can be honest and communicate clearly with everybody. I try to text everyone on the roster every week and I’m always very open as communication is important. But honestly I am learning every day, I have lots of smart people around me who will sit down and help me to make decisions. I believe it speaks to the mission that we haven’t changed yet”.
Conor Pacey of ComicBook – “You announced that you’ll be returning to Vegas for Double or Nothing. Tony Khan has mentioned the possibility of returning to the same arenas every year. What are your thoughts on this?”
Cody: “The MGM Grand is a magical place and announcing that we are going back there for Double or Nothing, plus the Dynamite encore is special. I hope I don’t spoil or scoop anything here but going from the Saturday through to the Wednesday means that we have a lot more AEW events for that week. We want the eyes of the wrestling world to be on Vegas for Memorial Day Weekend. There will be so much going on in Vegas, the MGM Grand building has had some huge moments in wrestling history. Double or Nothing will very likely find a home in Vegas going forward as we have a great relationship with the venue. We want to keep it there, keep All Out at Sears… and again this might be a potential spoiler. We are looking at other events and shows moving around but those two are the main ones that we want to save and keep in those places”.
Bill Bodkin of Pop Break – “You recently extended the deal with TNT by a number of years. One thing people reacted to is how does this impact the way AEW goes after free agents? Most free agents are linked to AEW, but how does longevity and security help with free agents?”
Cody: “I always like to think back to All In, which wasn’t even an AEW show and I remember thinking that my peers in wrestling might want to be part of what we were doing. But how long, if ever, do we close the doors after amassing a roster. TNT is currently reaching 37 million people and the youngest audience in wrestling. The revolution is real, and it is happening. I am obviously happy that people are wanting to come to us and the doors will remain open. What we look at most of all is ‘are they fresh?’. Being fresh is important to us. Your age doesn’t matter, what we want to know is are you something new and fresh and can you go from bell to bell. We don’t want to pick up too many free agents for the sake of it who can’t go from bell to bell. I think the launch of AEW helped more promotions and platforms take off and It makes me happy seeing my peers and the people I shared bumps with getting paid more, taking care of their families better. AEW has helped to rbing those opportunities.
Miami Herald – “I was curious about AEW’s scouting of talent. What is the process and is there a training facility in place for incoming talent yet?”
Cody: “As far as scouting goes, we talk about it all the time. Tazz and myself are travelling to the NCAA finals soon to see if we can find anything. The combine already has plenty of eyes on it in terms of grooming professional athletes with a certain look, size and athletic ability. We are the DIY company right now, with guys like The Young Bucks born and bred on the indies, still out there mining the independents for talent. Our eyes are open to basically all and everything to find potentially the hottest independent acts. We hope to have more information to release in the next month on a training school in North Cross, Georgia. It’s actually named The Nightmare Factory. I’ve taken a leadership role there, with Anthony Agago and Sadie Gibbs as the lead trainers. The facility is nly affiliated to me, not AEW. It may grow into a full time situation in the future but right now we don’t have many trainee wrestlers. Most of our roster is people who are seasoned and not learning or nursing injuries that they would need to go there for. The facility is currently open to all, Dean Malenko actually held a seminar over there this last week and 85% of the current roster went along off their own backs. For now though it is my own thing for the roster to use if they want to get reps in, to nurse injuries and rehab but hopefully it will be more one day”.
Christin Ashley of Bell to Bell – “Nyla Rose recently won the AEW Womens Championship. First of all congratulations to her on winning the title. Do you have any future plans for the division?”
Cody: “Our womens division is growing right now. I would say that with he success and feedback you have to take the criticisms - you can’t be close minded with it. One thing that will take time in AEW is the women’s division. This is a merit based wrestling show and the best wrestlers will wrestle if it is right for the show. We have some of the best women’s wrestlers in the world right now but in terms of future plans I would love for Big Swole to emerge as a star. Britt Baker is on fire right now, Nyla Rose had an amazing moment and also had the best match so far in the women’s division against Riho in AEW so far. International talent such as those from Japan helps to keep things fresh too. Be patient with AEW, we are doing everything we can to grow and cultivate that division. Women’s wresting has become so popular and its such a special thing for me to see. A lot of the time now people and companies are out to get woke points but women’s wrestling does incredibly well in terms of merch and tickets sales. We have just entered into 2020 and going forward the women will continue to grow”.
Mike Pacow of Windy City Slam – “AEW Revolution will be taking place in Chicago. Can you tell me about the towns relationship with wrestling, especially AEW?”
Cody: “That is where it all started, right there. Chicago is the first place we went to and we instantly thought that it would be the best place for it, along with Matt and Nick Jackson. Chicago is so big that Revolution being sold out… there’s something very special about that and very unique about Chicago. People think it was always a hot bed for wrestling passion, historically it actually wasn’t. I’m not sure where it started, maybe wrestleMania where the crowd level shifted and they suddenly got more involved in the shows. The same can be said for Philadelphia. Chicago was always so fun to be in as a competitor. I’m one of the most loyal people on earth, for all of my other flaws, and I will always be loyal to Chicago because that’s where we started off. It was the spark for how big AEW would go on to become. We want to give Chicago the best possible shows”.
Fansided – “Last summer, Tony Khan stated that he wanted more men of colour for the men’s division. Is it still a priority of yours?”
Cody: “Of course and I’m glad you asked. Not to say that I have been multitasking today, but i have been deep diving on YouTube into a guy called Chris Bay. He is someone who could help our singles division. I’m sure that this mention will get back to him because we haven’t even spoken yet. We all have the same commitment, all of the EVPs. This is a demographic we knew we could do well in but should be doing better. No one is pretending when we say that we want the show to reflect life in 2020 in America. We want to see more superstars like Big Swole, Private Party and Scorpio Sky.
Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful - “You spoke about All In earlier. ROH have the rights to that show. Are you trying to acquire the rights or have you moved on?”
Cody: “We have a very good relationship with ROH and Joe Coff. Originally it was a complicated set of documents that tie All In with ROH but they did so much to help with All In, from loaning us people to use and handling back of house, to breaching contracts. It is not something we are actively pursuing, we lived it and felt it in our hearts, it was very romanticized. The business man in me wants it as its so fresh and I know that if we came to table with Gregg and Joe and they wanted to unload anything we would be their first option. For now we are so focused on creating new All In’s and new events, so we have been other-wise focused. Who knows, it’s a good question but no one knows what future holds.
Richard Fan of Pro Wrestling Torch – “So many people are worried about the need for woke points and how to avoid looking like you want them. How do you avoid diversity for the sake of it while also facing criticism of just trying to be woke?”
Cody: “You just have to lead with the content you have. It speaks to who you are as a company. Who is out front and centre on dynamite rather than it being a marketing campaign. Sure, it can be marketing as long as it is nothing nefarious. As we have the youngest wrestling audience, most of our viewers are smart enough to know when something is being done to check a box and for publicity. That’s why we make no statements after our shows regarding those moments, we lead with what is on the show and go with the best wrestlers for that show”
Ryan Satin – “You have talked about Nyla Rose earlier. What did you think about Val Venis’ comments?”
Cody: “I think it is disappointing, if you grew up watching Venis he was the Disco Inferno of WWE. It is very disappointing and I don’t feel like I know him anymore. I’m sure he doesn’t mean the terrible things he said, maybe he just wants a booking. He won’t be booked anywhere near us. This goes back to the last question, so many people here on this call have an online presence. The key thing is we don’t hit the ball back, when you do you give someone like Venis oxygen. Nyla won because she was the best wrestler and she deserved it. We should all, if we take anything from this call, stop hitting the ball back. It is 2020 now and we should love everybody”.
Zach of TSN Canada – “Will we see any AEW in Canada in 2020 and how has TV been in Canada? Are you pleased with Dynamite over here?”
Cody: “TSN has been a great partner for us. They have let us lead and helped to stream across the border to the north. For sure AEW wants to come to Canada in 2020. I have some great memories myself there. We would hope for a strong presence there and it is not off the table. We minimum want an actual live show there at least. The first one would likely to be Toronto but I am a big fan of the specific northwest and all those wonderful places. We want to potentially host multiple Canadian shows, we don’t have them on the books right now but theyn have been discussed and our live event future isn’t entirely mapped out yet. Jericho being from Winnipeg would mean we couldn’t miss there either.
Stephanie from Steelchair Magazine “AEW is going pretty strong. Over 13 months what one thing are you most proud and do you regret anything you did or didn’t do?”
Cody: “The thing I am most proud of is no one at AEW is taking victory laps. We have our weekly show, the feedback and ratings come in but we move right on to next week and what we have mapped out. We want to have a really friendly, energetic and passionate AEW where we just want to keep going, excited and wanting to go forward. I am very proud of the passion that exists within us and how we don’t get ahead of ourselves. We want to make it right for all wrestling fans and to bring new ones in. As for regrets, I do not have a single regret about AEW. I’m one who does have many regrets normally but in this case no regrets at all. It has gone so well and smoothly. People at the events feel that passion and lack of regrets from us. I am very proud of where we are and where we are going."