On Tuesday it was announced that the first match for AEW's TNT show will feature Cody and Sammy Guevara. While it comes as no surprise that Cody is involved, many were surprised that the young Guevara was picked as his opponent.
Cody revealed why Guevara was chosen and also talked about the importance of that first match on Busted Open Radio.
"It wasn't so much about the first match. Everyone was looking at the show at its totality. We were playing around with the ideas as a group with Tony Khan included of what that first card looks like," said Cody. "I was really adamant and the crew was fully about doing something that is kind of unique to people's expectations, perhaps. I wanted to do something with a young and hungry and kind of a guy who has no ceiling but is relatively an unknown to a crowd that we are going to be in front of and that being Sammy Guevara.
Cody said the first match will set the tone for AEW and that ever since their launch, they've been talking about being something fresh for the pro wrestling fan. He also said that Guevara epitomizes the word "fresh."
"Sammy Guevara is fresh; he is really special. I think people who were indifferent with the reaction yesterday [of Guevara being in the opening match against Cody], I would hope that ten years from the very first AEW show on TNT will look back and say, 'wow, that was a really good call.' You know when you are part of the crew with helping build something, you want that responsibility and to do it honestly. But damn right, that first match ever, it feels right for it to be one of us and I am happy that it was me," stated Cody.
Guevara is best known for his time with MLW and Lucha Libre AAA where he was their cruiserweight champion. But most casual pro wrestling fans aren't aware of his work, and Cody revealed what part of Guevara he wants to showcase to the world.
"He's fresh; he's young and hungry. He's got an air about him. He is not somebody you can pinpoint and say, ah, that is a heel, or that is a babyface. It's not necessarily that. You can almost look at him as a rookie draft pick. He is that rookie draft pick that you know is really, really good. You have seen his stats. He is a competitor's competitor, so it's twofold," said Cody.
"I know on the big stage, and man, I'm putting pressure on Sammy and perhaps I know that he can glow out there if that makes any sense. I have seen what he can do at AAA. I have seen what he can do at Double or Nothing, I think it's important that we introduce something absolutely brand new to the world. That is why I said we have to be going forward and not backward."
In addition to featuring Guevara, Cody is also using the match to show a different side of himself as Guevara's opponent.
"The second element of that is that I am 34 years old now and I feel like I am entering my wrestling prime. I want to challenge my own self. There is a style that I have been known for and I want to continue to push my style and evolve as a wrestler and a competitor," revealed Cody. "It's only people like that who are going to bring it out of me. I am sure I will bring things out of him, I already know that, but I am not sure if he knows that I am expecting him to bring something out of me. I have to present myself in a whole new light. Some people have been pretending that they know about what we are doing and are talking about it in our circles, but this will be an opportunity for them to really see it."
Cody also detailed AEW's relationship with TNT and said it's a true working relationship. Instead of viewing themselves as working for TNT, AEW sees more of a partnership and they are working with TNT.
"We can look at it like we are answering to them or we are working together with them. I learned right away how good of a partner Warner Media and Turner was going to be when I was tying Matt Jackson's tie in the back of a car service taking us to the Upfronts to the carpet where we were going to announce our show and they tweeted that fire graphic and wrote that 'Wrestling is returning to TNT.' Since then, we couldn't have asked for a more finger-on-the-pulse partner," stated Cody.
"There is no one in the Warner Media group, no one in the Turner group who was there during the WCW time. That to us is a massive blessing. There's no pre-existing grudge or thought of what wrestling is going to be."
Cody then brought up Kevin Reilly who is the president of TNT. He compared Reilly to Ted Turner when WCW was featured on Turner networks and Reilly shares the same vision as Cody and the rest of AEW.
"He has listened and looked at all of us in the eye and has asked us what is important to us," Cody said of Reilly. "What is our passion about? What makes us different than any other wrestling out there? He likes our mission. Our mission is sometimes more popular than any wrestler on the card. The vision of what this is and the fact that there could be something else on television, there could be this alternative. So, yeah, I look at working with them instead of answering to them and they have been wonderful in this build to the very first TV."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Busted Open Radio with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.