For the last several months, AEW has signed a lot of high profile talent including Lance Archer (along with Jake “The Snake” Roberts), who finished his run in New Japan before coming back to wrestle in the states. The second was Brodie Lee, who was released from the WWE. And, the most recent was Matt Hardy, who announced he was letting his contract expire with the WWE.
On the management side of things, Cody Rhodes was all in for these three powerhouses to jump ship to AEW. In his recent interview on Busted Open Radio, Rhodes ran down a list of the recent signees, and how significant it is to have them on board.
“I’d start with Matt Hardy. Matt Hardy is perhaps – the number one if I had to describe – pioneer,” Rhodes stated. “He’s a risk-taker. He’s a hot take right now with his cinematic matches. Matt Hardy is one of the very first people to even touch that space, and touch it confidently. You need pioneers. You need forward thinkers. You also need veteran leaders in a locker room, that’s so important. It maintains morale. It maintains discipline, and there’s more for Matt Hardy to offer. That’s a thumbs up across the board.
“Lance Archer, accompanied by Jake Roberts, of course, who will consistently remind you how great he is. I don’t have gleaming things to say about Lance Archer. Physically, he’s one of the most impressive wrestlers in any company hands down because of his size… One thing I will say [that’s] positive about Lance is his debut against Marko Stunt. It’s one of the most insane debuts I’ve ever seen. It came during an insane time in the business. He literally turned some heads at the site and he’s just thunder of what he’s capable of doing. Jake has a way of putting that in when he’s discussing him. They’re a unique tandem, and they’re on the other side of the TNT Championship Tournament [bracket].
“And Brodie Lee; The Exalted One. The leader of the Dark Order, which has taken a much different turn, you know, gone a different direction perhaps in the Dark Order, initially. Brodie is just the hybrid wrestler of 2020, in terms of his quickness and being able to have light/heavyweight offense. But, he can be an absolute true-blue heavyweight to end it quicker, every time. Brodie, if you got to rub shoulders with him [the man himself] in WWE, he’s untapped. His one-time reign as [WWE] Intercontinental Champion is just, you know, the tip of the iceberg. That guy is the total package. I say this on the management side of AEW, you’re really excited about having someone like Brodie Lee, but as a wrestler, you’re also a little bit wary of what happens when you get in the ring with him. But I can say from watching him on the management side of things: to hear him talk, to how he speaks to people, how he communicates and to see what he does in the ring, he is just now entering his prime. I expect huge things for Brodie Lee in AEW.”
Now that Lee has taken his rightful place as The Exalted One, it’s fair to say that how he portrays himself, is quite similar to his former boss, Vince McMahon. Rhodes stated that he does not think Lee’s portrayal as The Exalted One is supposed to be a spoof on McMahon, but he can see how people can find common similarities towards the both of them, especially by how they showcase themselves.
“I can never tell you the original plan and I don’t even know if there ever was an original plan,” Rhodes informed. “Very unlikely on AEW will you ever hear the name ‘Vince McMahon’ said. If you do hear me say it in interviews, in general, I always speak very highly of Vince because A: He’s Vince McMahon and B: I was a WWE guy to start. I didn’t come from anywhere else. I came up through their feeder system, and they are the house that built me.
“When it comes to some of the parallels, I don’t want to be vague or coy, between Brodie’s style of leadership, there are a lot of unique parallels. But I don’t think it’s particularly a spoof of Vince McMahon. Maybe we’ll see how it develops in the next few weeks. I think Brodie has a very power boss, animal kingdom type approach to the Dark Order and I think that falls in line with some of Vince’s quirks. But it is not an outright spoof on the legendary Vince McMahon.”
Speaking of the male roster, Rhodes believes there is a lot of potential for their rising talent, which includes Darby Allin and Sammy Guevara.
“With Darby, I’m so proud,” Cody announced. “He’s like everything as far as what you want. It’s right in front of your face; his improvement. He improves every time he’s in the ring in front of you on television. He’s ‘Mr. Extra Credit,’ when it comes to doing all of the work. A lot of the cinematic and vignette stuff he does, he has his own production crew in Atlanta. A guy [named] Max Yoder will put it all together for him. You’ll get a text from Darby [saying], ‘Hey, can I play this before my interview?’ And, you never need to look at it because it’s gold. Darby is full-time. He wakes up thinking about wrestling, and goes to sleep thinking about wrestling. He’s on a whole new weight training plan. He’s getting bigger by the day. He’s the fastest rising star in any company. I could go on-and-on about Darby. The fact that he is a favorite in the Tournament with me is beautiful, but it also gets under my skin a little bit, because he shares the same side of the bracket as me.
“Sammy Guevara. I would say a lot of nice things about Sammy Guevara, but he’ll say nice things about himself. Sammy Guevara can do every flip in the wrestling book. He’s one of the few wrestlers who can. But, don’t let any of the flips confuse you. He’s a mean Texas kid, who pops both Kenny [Omega] and Hangman’s [Adam Page] eardrums. And, he benefits the most by being around Chris Jericho. When Chris talks, Sammy listens. He may not listen to anyone else, but he listens [to Jericho]. He’s a huge part of the future, and present of AEW.”
You can listen to Rhodes’ full interview here . 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.