Due to the coronavirus pandemic, AEW's Double or Nothing pay-per-view has been moved from Las Vegas to an undisclosed location. Cody Rhodes discussed other changes the pandemic forced during a media call promoting last night's AEW Double or Nothing event.
"I'd say that this card is 90 percent of what we potentially had planned. Obviously we were presented with a curveball and we're at the plate hoping to connect. But not a lot of things changed due to the pandemic in terms of creative," revealed Cody.
"One thing that's really a bright spot in all of this, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention it, is that during this period of time, all the credit has to go to Tony Khan. It's George Washington crossing the Delaware type of stuff in terms of the shows we did in Norcross and the patchwork of putting these events together. But, to answer your question, not a lot has changed. We've been fortunate to have our stars and last night was a nice moment to not only have the Young Bucks back but also Hangman Adam Page."
It's been about two months since AEW moved to no-crowd shows for Dynamite and Cody was asked how different their approach is now compared to before the pandemic.
"There's so many stories online about what precautions wrestling is taking. But, just to get in the hallways of where my office is at in Daily's Place, I have to get a temperature check. So, not only a temperature check in the parking lot, but a temperature check to get in the hallway," said. Cody. "You've seen on Dynamite the wristbands on everybody's wrists – doing COVID testing in quarantined situations so you don't cross-pollinate. The ring crew working overtime to get sanitized. The use of masks as much as possible – it's just been a really unique challenge…
"That's from the production side. From the creative side, I have loved this challenge because you don't have that instant gratification of knowing this spot worked or this spot didn't work. So, what a way to test your skills! I'm obsessed with wrestling so this has presented itself as a challenge that I really want."
Cody added that he enjoys the challenge of only playing to the people at home and entertaining them. He also said that many others at AEW have also stepped up during these times.
"I'll give you a prime example in Chris Jericho. This is a nightmare for a performer but in a way has been a dream because people have honed their skills. They are gonna come out of this pandemic as better wrestlers and that just creates a better wrestling show for the wrestling fans," stated Cody.
AEW is running shows at Daily's Place in Jacksonville which is connected to the stadium that the Jaguars play in. Cody discussed the atmosphere there and the perks that come with performing in an amphitheater.
"Daily's Place is incredibly special. It was already a special place for us before the pandemic as a bit of a home arena, being the parking lot is where we had the initial AEW press conference," stated Cody.
"I just love the fact that the sun sets as the show goes on. It's beautiful lighting and one of our master lighting guys, Greg, I know it's a pain for him having to adjust, but I love that. And I love the wind and watching last night Jake and Arn Anderson sermonize and seeing the wind blow – seeing that open air in Daily's Place has made things very easy for us.
"We have a lot of contingencies and a lot of places, as the world opens up, that want AEW. [Director of Live Events] Rafael Morffi and [VP] Chris Herrington have been wonderful about potentially looking into those places. But if we wrestled at Daily's for the foreseeable future, I'd have no problem with that. It's a tremendous place and I can't thank the Khan family enough for having it available for us to work there."
AEW could theoretically run shows in any location where local laws allow for these types of events. Cody was asked if they've considered taking the show on the road.
"The plan right now is to stay in one spot. The reason being is that you put your talent and production at risk when you move. Obviously, we can meet that risk with proper management, but it is easier to be in this one spot for now. I don't wanna get in a rhythm where we're stuck because I do hope the world safely opens up where the fans can come back as that live aspect is incredibly important," said Cody.
"If it was up to me – which it's not because I share the role with three others – I would stay here until it's time to let fans in and even potentially let fans back in at Daily's first. It's no secret that the parking lot is starting to fill out with fans and I made a little trip out there yesterday. We can't shake hands or hug but we can acknowledge another's love for the industry."
So far, AEW has not publicly announced any positive tests of COVID-19 for their talent. But Cody was asked what the protocol would be if someone at AEW did test positive.
"The testing is done under quarantine measures. You have scheduled out blocks for the testing and Team Medical is the first to be tested so there is no cross-pollination," revealed Cody. "They're not done at Daily's Place as they're done in quarantining measures, meaning if you were to test positive then you would get the nose swab test to confirm. But you would not be in proximity to any of the talent or crew."
He added that the measures they have in place would prevent a shut down in production if there was a positive test. He cited the UFC as a parallel in that one of their fighters tested positive but the rest of the fights on the card still took place.
"If a positive test were to come forward then it would indicate that the testing does work and that measures need to be taken. We have been incredibly fortunate to have no positive tests. Hopefully we have no positive tests moving forward but doing them under quarantining measures per Dr. Michael Sampson has been the right call for everybody," stated Cody.
Cody's full AEW Double or Nothing media scrum aired as part of a recent episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon by clicking here.