On a recent episode of AEW Unrestricted, former AEW TNT Champion and EVP Cody Rhodes joined Tony Schiavone and Aubrey Edwards to kick off season two of the podcast. Rhodes opened up about the chair shot to the head he took at Fyter Fest last year. He admitted that the incident was his fault because of the advice he told Shawn Spears, and he recalled Spears getting berated backstage by Jon Moxley and AEW President Tony Khan.
"The thing that gets talked about a lot and it's safe to talk about now is the 'gimmicked' chair with Shawn Spears and how terribly wrong it all went," Rhodes said. "I actually told him last night. I told Ronnie, which is Shawn's real name. I had told him it's entirely my fault what happened. The whole thing is my fault. I did not have a concussion, but I definitely was shell-shocked.
"When I came back and Steve Yu and all the Comeback Studio guys were filming, they were filming a very real moment, but I saw out of the corner of my eyes as I headed for the training room, Moxley and Tony Khan just ripping Spears to shreds. I hadn't seen that side of the the owner, the founder, the chief [and] the boss Tony, and I hadn't seen that side of Moxley. Some days, he says one half a word to you. Other days, he's talking your ear off.
"It was cool to see that because he cared about my health, and he cared about the product. And I could see him pantomiming to Spears on how he was supposed to do it, Tony's agreeing because you've got a wrestler, he's clearly got to be right, but he's wrong. I really appreciated cared about me."
Rhodes explained why Moxley was in the wrong because he told Spears to swing the chair from the side and to "swing for the fences." He said the goal for the segment was "to take chair shots to the head back for the boys" but in a safe manner
"He's wrong because I'm the one who told Ronnie, Spears, to swing from the side," Rhodes revealed. "I told him to swing from the side, and the last words I told him, because there's a whole series of days prior to this, 'swing for the fences.' And when I landed, I don't know if you can make out the camera shot, but when I land, my head is so stiff from the shot that I land, the awkward landing where you have two falls. I muttered, 'swing for the fences.' Here was my objective, and I want people to understand this.
"Wrestling is violent. People get hurt. This is not ballet. You've heard all this stuff. Now, I don't want anyone to get hurt. The art is to make it look like we hurt each other, and then we can go home. That's why we shake hands over and over and over again. If we're going to be held to the same standard as TV and film, which some people would like to hold us to those same standards. We have a comparable reach. We have global penetration, pop culture-wise.
"Well, then if Captain America can be swinging his shield around, hitting people on the head with it, no one's crying headshots. No one's blaming this modern generation for whatever the hell they did in 1990 something with Mick [Foley and Rock and [Ken] Shamrock. That's not our fault. So I wanted to take chair shots to the head back for the boys, but I wanted to do it safely."
Rhodes said that the plan was to gimmick the chair so that it would be similar to a cookie sheet. He noted that the head of props division was fired for the incident, but he is still working for AEW in other roles.
"Here was the plan, the plan was, and I explain this because everyone was pretty adamant against it, I said, 'we'll do a chair shot to the head, but we will literally gimmick the chair.' It would have been nice to have a person who knew how to do that," Rhodes admitted. "It went from, okay, my friend ordered this off Amazon and see if this would work, or if we take the cushion off, is it super thin like sheet metal, like a cookie sheet.
"But then it won't look like a wrestling steel chair. So what do we do? So Charlie Ramon, he saved Moxley in that moment. He's been in a bunch of random segments. I would classify Charlie as what we would call our 'Magic Department.' It's crafts. It's props. In WWE, the department was called 'Magic'. He was briefly the head of our props division. He was also fired the same day he was head of our props division because of how bad this all went."
Rhodes also reveled that Khan wanted to take the chair shot to the head, but Rhodes made sure that did not happen. He also noted that while Khan was aware of the plan, the other EVPs were not aware of what was going to happen that night.
"The plan was Charlie was going to sand the seat of the chair so that it was a cookie sheet. A cookie sheet can't hurt anybody," Rhodes noted. "It sounds like it does. It's not unlike why we hit each other with the trash can lid. He was going to sand the seat of the chair, and then again, 'swing for the fences.' So I wanted to see it, and I, being very organized, I said, 'well, I want two of them' because what if we decide to do one in the middle of the day? To test it, I want to have two of them, and then you mark them with a piece of tape and you leave them in my office.
"The night before walking to that Oceanfront Center or whatever it's called there in Daytona, Tony Khan is adamant that Charlie hits him with the chair, and I was adamant that he is not hitting you with the chair. You're not taking a headshot. 'No, if you're going to take that shot, I want to take that headshot.' I really appreciate it, but we're sanding this thing down, and we can't dent it. Perhaps we should have. I still would never want Tony to take this, but he even was banging it against his own head, like 'see it's nothing,' and he kept banging.
"He's an energetic individual, but what I told them, I said, 'if we get a lot of heat right out of the gate, optics wise, say to whatever sources you want to, however you want to distill this information, tell them it was a gimmicked chair.' So that in the fiction, in the actual product and what we're doing, we're not addressing it but off the record, he is addressing it. So really, no one can get mad. That was the plan. Should have coordinated the plan with everybody. That would include Matt and Nick Jackson, who I left out in the wilderness on this. Kenny [Omega], who I don't think I said a word to about this. So that's where the term 'gimmicked chair' came from."
Rhodes said that everything with the chair went right. However, his advice to Spears is what caused the spot to go wrong. He also discussed the fallout from the incident, and while he noted that he has the other chair, he affirmed that chair shots to the head won't happen again.
"In the end, he did sand the chair down, it was sheet metal [and] it was beautiful," Rhodes remarked. "It's just my advice to Ronnie to swing from the side is what created--he swung for the fences, but the back bar, the top bar is what ate the back of my head. So I knew it went bad, but I was like, 'man, it was a great moment. It was a great moment.' I didn't have a concussion. Brandi doesn't like when I do violent things, but I'm a weird, violent wrestler. I like to get hit in the face. It's a weird thing. She don't like that.
"So she's yelling at me but not yelling at me, being a good wife, but in my mind, I was like, 'nah, moment was cool. That was a cool moment.' And then they went on that scrum that night, Matt and Nick, and they're saying, 'it was gimmicked.' And then Tony said, 'it was pilot error,' and then it just became this whole, just big thing. And then, 'we're never going to do chair shots to the head again,' and my attempt to get chair shots to the head back for the boys but safely was a failed attempt. In hindsight, maybe it should have never been attempted because the optics of hitting someone in the head with a chair are still the same.
"Whether it's our fault for what Mankind and Ken Shamrock and all those guys did, people still look at it that way. So I didn't think of that, and that was a big lesson for me. Would I do it again? Yeah. I would because it led to a fun PPV, and Spears has never really had the moment I think he deserves. He had Tully Blanchard. He had that moment. I thought it was the right moment, and it's what he deserved as somebody who helped train me early on in my career and was really patient with me. The chair, we have one at the Nightmare Factory. We have the other one. So you never know. It's available. You can't swing it sideways as Moxley just kept, 'you got to swing it swing it overhead.' But chairs to the head, I don't see us doing it again."
Edwards gave her perspective of the spot noting that she was not signed with AEW at the time. She recalled Brandi asking her if a blood packet was used for the spot, and she had to tell her that it was not.
"I was particularly terrified, like 'I f--ked everything up,' even though it's clearly all your fault, but that's my moment right because you're laying there, and there's a pool of blood forming," Edwards recalled. "And your wife looks at me and goes, 'is this a blood packet?' I said, 'nope.'"
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW Unrestricted with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.