By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
The following are highlights of the AEW conference call hosted by Cody, who promoted Saturday’s AEW Double Or Nothing event and took questions from the pro wrestling media. The audio of this call will be made available later today as a free podcast.
-Cody spoke of being proud of being able to work during the pandemic. He noted that they had a lot of callers and opted to open the phone lines for questions.
-From a creative perspective, Cody said that not a lot has changed due to the pandemic as it pertains to Double Or Nothing. Cody gave credit to Tony Khan and production members Kevin Sullivan and Jim Morris for the tapings in Norcross, Georgia in particular.
-Cody said the mindset is to make AEW destination programming. He said it’s been difficult to quantify what is working without crowds present. He said you have to analyze and even guess at what people may like. Cody said he’s been very self aware during this process. Cody spoke of the TNT Championship and said it’s crazy that TNT and Warner Media actually wanted their own title belt. He also hyped some of the other matches on the show and noted that the AEW Women’s Title match between Nyla Rose and Hikaru Shida being a no disqualification and no count-out match. He said Saturday is a very diverse show and he wants to to be “the best damn buffet that there is.”
-Cody spoke about the precautions that are being taken at AEW events due to the pandemic. He said he has to get a temperature check just to enter the hallway to his office at Daily’s Place. He said everyone in the ring and on the production team is being tested. From a creative standpoint, he said he has loved the challenge of the empty venues. He said he’s obsessed with wrestling and this is a challenge that he really wants. He said no one is sitting in the crowd, but there are people sitting at home and he feels it is his job to entertain them. He said he can’t know for sure if he is, but that is one of the bright spots of social media. He said it’s very clear who really stepped up during this time. Cody praised Chris Jericho. He said this has been a nightmare for performers, but in a way it’s also been a dream. He said the wrestlers will come out of the pandemic being better wrestlers, which will create a better wrestling show for the wrestling fans.
-A caller asked about Tony Khan stating that the TNT Champion would be No. 2 in the rankings. Cody clarified that the TNT Champion will not be ranked. Rather, the TNT Champion will be listed as a champion. They won’t be looking at the AEW Champion and TNT Champion as one and two. He said they can’t say it’s a workhorse title or a mid-card title because they are unsure, but the top five wrestlers in the rankings will not be champions.
-The next caller brought up Brodie Lee being in the AEW Championship match. Cody said he’s very proud of Lee, saying that he’s stepped up considerably as a leader. Cody said the AEW locker room is very young and needs leadership. Cody said he came up in locker rooms with great leadership that came without bullying. He also listed Shawn Spears as someone who has also emerged as a locker room leader. Cody also spoke about the The Empire Strikes Back being released on May 21, 1980. Cody spoke about how he gets nervous before pay-per-view matches, and said his latest viewing of the movie he considers to be the best movie of all-time will have to wait.
-Cody spoke about how much he likes that the sun sets during their broadcasts from Daily’s Place. He also said he loved seeing Jake Roberts and Arn Anderson doing their thing while the wind was blowing. Cody praised Rafael Morffi and Chris Harrington looking into other venues that are opening up, but Cody said he has no problem continuing to work at Daily’s Place in the meantime.
-A caller noted that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been “the leader” when it comes to opening things up. The caller asked if it makes more sense to remain in Florida in the meantime rather than travel to other states. Cody said it’s easier to be in one location for now because it’s safer for the crew. Cody noted that it’s not his decision to make, but he would prefer to stay at Daily’s Place and even run a show there once fans are allowed to return. Cody noted that there have been some fans who have shown up in the parking lot during their shows.
-Cody was asked about AEW’s top accomplishment what he loves most about being in Jacksonville, Florida. Cody said he’s very excited about the AEW action figures. Cody also spoke about how proud he is of the Norcross tapings. He noted that AEW is not officially affiliated with QT Marshall’s gym, but he praised the workers who took part in the show and compared it to The Replacements movie that starred Keanu Reeves.
-Cody spoke about his appreciation for handshakes between wrestlers, but noted that it might not be able to happen. He said they now have a crisis management team for other potential issues that may arise in the future.
-Cody was asked what would happen if a wrestler or crew member tested positive for the coronavirus. Cody spoke about the steps they are taking and how it’s set up to make sure they wouldn’t have to stop production. He mentioned that UFC had an issue with a fighter testing positive. He said they have been incredibly fortunate in that they have not had any positive tests thus far.
-Cody asked if there have been any advantages to running in empty venues. He mentioned that it’s made him and others better wrestlers and said there haven’t been any other advantages. “We really miss the fans,” Cody said. He said wrestling depends on the crowd and one another, so they are focusing on the crowd at home.
-Mike Tyson’s involvement at AEW Double Or Nothing was brought up and whether this was something planned prior to the pandemic. Cody noted that they met Tyson at the 2019 Double Or Nothing, and he’s become a fan of the company over the last year. He said Tyson’s involvement is one of the final touches that gives the tournament and the championship some prestige. Cody said it’s been fun to get to know Tyson over the last year.
-Cody was asked if the TNT Championship belt would be shown before Saturday night. Cody said he hasn’t seen it. He said you never know. He said there’s been some talk of showing it before the event, but his preference is to save it for the pay-per-view.
-Cody was asked who he sees on the mid-card being the next breakout main eventer. Cody played up his rivalry with MJF a bit before saying that “MJF is destined for something truly great.” Cody said he views the MJF vs. Jungle Boy match as a snapshot of the future. Cody said both men are putting on “good, drug-free” size. Cody also listed Hikaru Shida as a potential breakout candidate and said her social media shows how wholesome she is. Cody also mentioned Wardlow and Darby Allin. He said the potential is there for a number of people to find their way to the main event. He also mentioned Best Friends.
-Cody was asked if there’s anything he’s seen that doesn’t work in an empty venue. Cody noted that people have questioned why they have microphones when there’s no fans present. He explained that they are also for the television production. Cody also spoke of having wrestlers sit in the seats to help avoid silence. “That’s a wrestler’s nightmare,” Cody said of silence.
-Cody was asked about holding a second show in Rochester, New York. Cody said they will make it there. He said that almost every show they’ve lost have been postponed rather than cancelled. He said he hopes fans will be back sooner rather than later, even if it’s smaller gatherings. Cody said they were really looking forward to the Rochester event and noted that it’s Brodie Lee’s hometown. Cody said the only live shows that may be pushed back is the international shows.
-Cody was asked if Matt Hardy is an official member of The Elite and what he hopes he will accomplish in the company. Cody said Hardy is wonderful. He recalled sitting outside last night and listening to Hardy tell stories to the younger wrestlers. Cody said The Elite is the OG’s with Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson, and Nick Jackson. He said they do everything together and they are The Elite. He said there’s also the “expanded universe Elite” with Hangman Page and Marty Scurll. He said Hardy might be trial by fire with The Elite. Cody said one of the reasons that he goes so heavy with his own Nightmare logo is out of respect to The Elite.
-The host wrapped up the caller portion and delivered some final hype for AEW Double Or Nothing.
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