AEW Executive Vice President Cody Rhodes says WWE NXT Celebrity Superstar Pat McAfee has been trying to get a job with the competition.
Rhodes hosted a media call earlier today to promote tonight’s Dynamite show, where he will team with Red Velvet in the opener to face NBA Legend Shaquille O’Neal and Jade Cargill. Cody was asked about Shaq’s recent comments on how this will be the best celebrity wrestling match of all-time. McAfee responded to those comments and disagreed. Cody was asked if he agrees, because he’s wrestled with actor Stephen Amell, and if there is any added pressure when it comes to bouts like these, and if he pays any attention to comments like that where they’re just trying to raise the bar.
“I think… I didn’t see this particular comment, especially from Pat, which is super bizarre because… just bizarre because I’m pretty sure Pat’s trying to get a job at AEW like every other day, but that’s another conversation,” Cody claimed.
Cody continued and said he liked that Shaq made the comment, and also talked about how a celebrity wrestling match should be.
“I like that Shaq made that comment,” Cody continued. “I stand by that comment myself, I’d make the same one because you have to continue to raise the bar and you can’t do… there’s a lot of old veteran wrestlers who have these opinions on how you’re supposed to do a celebrity match. My opinion is this… you have to wrestle. If you’re showing up for a wrestling match, you have to wrestle. It can’t be, ‘Oh, they’re not from our world, they shouldn’t be able to lock up.’
“None of that. Shaq trained. I never trained with him but he trained for this, so I anticipate he’s going to know his way around the ring, to a degree. Now he doesn’t have the experience that I have for sure, but if he did train, we’re talking about a multiple-time world champion in the NBA, we’re talking about a former MVP. That athleticism is once in a lifetime athleticism, which is where I would be confident in saying, hopefully is the best celebrity match of all-time, because if he did train, and he is the man we know as Shaq, then by all means, I hope we can set a new standard and raise that bar, and not only set a new standard, but perhaps give a different outlook on what a celebrity or crossover type match should be.”
Tonight’s Dynamite will also feature the Wednesday night debut of Paul Wight (fka Big Show), who has signed a multi-year deal to work as a commentator and in-ring talent. Wight and Shaq previously feuded in WWE but never got the chance to have their singles match. Cody was asked if it’s a coincidence that Wight signed when Shaq is making his in-ring debut for the company. He also talked about what it means to have Shaq in AEW as far as mainstream appeal goes and more eyes on the product.
“The timing of everything is certainly… there’s a lot of kismet involved, a lot of serendipity with that, but it is a coincidence,” Cody said of Wight and Shaq. “Paul Wight is entering a different phase in his career and Shaq has entered into what I guess would be considered a rivalry with him and Jade, and myself and Brandi, who is unable to be a part of this match because the greatest gift on Earth, the fact that she’s going to have a baby, and Velvet is stepping up to the plate in such epic fashion.
“I think Shaq’s presence and what Shaq brings is obvious. He definitely has a very large audience, a very large following. If you look at everything he’s doing with Shaq Life, and you look at his world, and all of his entrepreneurial efforts, he’s really a model business man.”
Cody continued and revealed that he’s hoping Velvet will emerge as the top star from this match. He went on to praise the AEW women’s division.
“But for me, this match, I would like to see Red Velvet really, hopefully, emerge the star, and hopefully emerge victorious of this,” Cody said. “If anything this match has presented a big opportunity for both Red Velvet and for Jade.
“Our women’s division is continuing to grow, we’re continuing to cultivate it. The Eliminator Tournament that’s happening, and to be able to, during an pandemic, across the ocean, to make it happen, it was not easy. Tony Khan moved Heaven & Earth to get production in Japan, and he made it happen. So for me this emboldens and bolsters our women’s division.”
Cody added, “I’m not gonna say anything mean about Shaq because he’s entering a different world. If I was to step on the court and play H-O-R-S-E with Shaq it would be a joke, and I hope he’s ready. I know he trained and he’s trained near me, but we’ll see. I don’t think he’s got enough gas in the tank to compete with me.”
You can find the full audio from Cody’s AEW Revolution media call via the embedded players below: