AEW superstar and Executive VP Cody Rhodes spoke with PW Insider to talk all things pro-wrestling, including the importance of his TNT Title defense with Sonny Kiss, and how he only plans on wrestling for another five years. Highlights from the interview can be found below.
On his match with Sonny Kiss:
So Sonny, the match we had, the day, as the day went by it dawned on me a little bit more, the severity of what it meant to have this fluid gender and open homosexual to have himself/herself challenging for the TNT Title. To me, Sonny is an outstanding athlete that has an incredibly different approach, presentation-wise, and a different type of charisma, the only like, reference-able charisma that I can think of what Sonny does is almost like Gorgeous George from the radio days, and just the overall pomp and circumstance of the presentation Sonny has, but that day as the day went on, it became more clear to me that this meant a lot to more people than just wrestling fans and I, you know, forgive me for being naive to that, I want to, I want to love and respect everyone on our roster, so it was a great learning experience for me and Aubrey Edwards was the one who kinda brought it in for me, brought it home in terms of how important it was. I’m almost tearing up as I say this, but it was. She said to me in the hallway, this is a big deal to a lot of people and I, I just, you know, you know I’ve been to the end zone before and I gave her the like, nod and I turned around and I went back and I gave her one of the longest hugs I think I’ve ever given anyone because I got it, and I could fill us in. So with that in mind, I want to make sure that, that I’m responsible to that, you know not only did she tell me that’s important and that’s a big deal, now I have to be responsible for that. Sonny doesn’t have over 10 years of experience like I have, I’ve worked with some of the greatest wrestlers of all time, and if I don’t take that experience in the ring and the match sucks, it’s not Sonny’s fault, it’s my fault. So with that in mind, I really..I was really proud we were able to carry it the way we did. There were some things I thought we could do better, but they were things that I could do better, and I was proud of Sonny, I was proud of Aubrey, I was proud of TNT, very proud of AEW, we’re moving forward on what does life look like really in 2020-2021 and beyond, it’s represented on AEW and doing it in a way that’s not just, ‘Hey we check the box, here’s a big PR press campaign.’ Instead, doing it in a real functional way made me proud.
How he only plans on wrestling for another five years:
Well I think AEW has always presented, especially to experienced talent, even myself in management, just looking at myself from a wrestler the way I present it to other experienced talent who have a lot of equity is that you’ll play your music how you want to, there is no writing core, there’s much less scripting going involved. With that in mind the TNT Championship has been, kinda been open mic, it’s an open challenge but it’s been an open mic for me pretty much every week as far as how I want my wrestling career, what I want to do next. It’s very important to me, very…I think some people might think it’s silly but I’m a wrestler so it’s not silly to me but it is important to me that I grow as a wrestler. I’m only going to do this for 5 more years and the next 5 more years I want to really carve out that bell to bell aspect of what I was able to do, cause I’ve always been very confident in myself in the ring, and I try not to be overly confident, but we’re dealing with different athletes now and we’re drawing from all walks of life in terms of the wrestling world…that’s what I always loved about The Elite. There’s all these rumors about the Elite and our relationship and things of that nature but one thing that’s for sure is why it has worked is because Matt and Nick have this incredible, high paced meta-like wrestling approach to tag team action that’s really just remarkable to watch, and then Kenny maintains some of his DDT elements and his Puro-roots and the long form New Japan style match, and what I brought to the table was classic Jim Crockett Promotions old Southern wrestling, old Southern drama, but what I think is special about the group is I think everyone in the group is capable of doing what the other could do in a way, and that’s what I wanted the TNT open challenge to represent – my ability to hustle bell to bell, because it’s what I train for every day, it’s very much a professional sport to me and I train like a professional athlete, so I’m going to want to be the best at it. And per recruitment of or I guess scouting of opponents pretty much been half and half, when I think of it in my mind. Tony has some people he wants to see get in the mix, and then there’s some people I’ve wanted to see get in the mix, and never really is it a hard sell to one another on these things. Arn Anderson’s actually been involved, his involvement goes beyond the on-screen coaching role, it really is special to have him around and Jerry Lynn secretly is the, kinda been attached to me by the hip for the last few weeks and my gosh, I’m so glad to have him because it feels like 2007-8 all of a sudden again, it feels like I know nothing, and he doesn’t do it in a mean spirited way but it’s never about, ‘Oh what you did well or what worked.’ It’s about, ‘Well you could have done this, you could have done this’, and really special…he’s found his identity as a coach, but this has gone very well, and I’m a large critic, very well in terms of viewership and ratings, very well in terms of critical reception to the matches but the trick is it’s gotta keep getting better and I think there’s an element of unpredictable to the open challenge that I want to kind of turn the volume up on.