The best way to avoid complacency is competition. In 2019, pro wrestling fans may be finally get some genuine competition for their television time.
Still over two months away from their first show, All Elite Wrestling is already very good at drumming up interest for their brand of pro wrestling.
Front and center as one of the faces of AEW is Cody Rhodes. Tabbed as the Executive Vice President of AEW, Rhodes’ job between now and the company’s first live event Double or Nothing, set for May 25 in Las Vegas, is to keep the pro wrestling promotion in the news. AEW is being built from the ground up right before our eyes and it’s fascinating to watch.
Part of AEW’s road to sinking or swimming is what kind of television deal the promotion lands.
Speaking with the New York Post, Rhodes was asked how AEW’s future television show will feel fresh.
“To me it’s treating it as live sports,” Rhodes said. “The core to that is characters, and I think characters beam across your television set or devices in ways perhaps people have forgotten. Wrestling used to have these great enhancements matches, these squash matches where you would see these characters and the things he could do. He’d tell you what you had at the pay-per-view event and things of that nature.”
Rhodes continued, “At the core of all wrestling, when it’s done right, is the characters and their connection to the audience,” Rhodes said. “If you really think about it, we’re the only thing out there ? the pro wrestling genre in general ? we are the only thing out there with that type of engagement with the audience, and that engagement somehow affects what happens in the ring, especially when you are someone like a Chris Jericho and you can hear it, feel it completely in your bone. It’s really important that the character engage the audience. You don’t just want to be watching a show, you want to be participating.”
When AEW does secure a TV deal, it will be interesting to see just how different it feels from what WWE produces on a weekly basis.
There is a delicate balance between how many former WWE employees and how many indie wrestlers AEW signs before their first event. Not only on TV, Rhodes would also go on to explain how AEW will feel fresh from a talent and roster building perspective.
“In terms of talent, that’s what matters a great deal to me,” Rhodes said. “It’s one of the biggest factors in hiring is fresh. To give you an example: We’ve all watched a lot of wrestling where a lot of guys have been recycled and rehashed and reused, and there is always a lot of activation of the legend. I totally get that. I’m not anti it. I just think, if you’re starting a company and not many people have been starting a company in wrestling, you start with people they haven’t seen and people who haven’t gotten the opportunity and get to grow up in front of you and balance it out.”
Rhodes added, “Chris Jericho is a six-time world champion, cool. And that only helps the people he shares that locker room with, and that’s been a big thing. It’s ironic that it’s the ex-WWE guy saying it in me, but obviously we don’t just want to do, ‘He’s ex-WWE, let’s throw him the world and hope he comes hang out with us.'”
Rhodes recently spoke with Wrestling Inc. as part of our WINCLY podcast, where the 33-year-old discussed the latest on AEW’s TV deals, hiring Billy Gunn, Tye Dillinger’s WWE departure, and more. You can check out past episodes of the WINCLY here.