AEW executive vice president Cody Rhodes has a busy first week of 2022 lined up. Not only will he defend his TNT Championship against Sammy Guevara at AEW’s Battle of the Belts event on Saturday, but he’ll also star as a judge on the second season of TBS‘ Go-Big Show, set to premiere on Thursday night. Rhodes sat down with ComicBook on Monday to promote the show, while also addressing some of AEW’s biggest stories heading into 2022.
“The American Nightmare” kicked things off by explaining what fans can expect from the second season of the popular competition show — “I think the first season, that learning curve and adapting an identity and the global penetration, one thing it leaned into was now we can cast a wider net for season two, in terms of acts and the dichotomy presented with some of these acts. In the trailer, you’ll see a man named Horse whose act is getting kicked in the balls. And that act stacked up against a 20-plus-year magician, or a sideshow performer, or a high dive artist… it really is just unreal, the difference, but its ability to make you feel something. And that’s really how I judge, is how did I feel? Because I’m definitely not qualified to be judging any of these people.”
Check out the full interview with Rhodes below!
Have any AEW wrestlers tried to pitch being on Go-Big Show?
I think everybody, every week, has a way of pitching ideas, especially in the first season. Everybody had a strong opinion on my judging more than their own ideas. That was what I ran into more than anything. It wasn’t so much about, “Hey, how can I get on Go-Big Show?” It was people angry at me for, “I can’t believe you sent this person home.” And I thought, “Okay. Well, I’m glad you’re watching. That’s good.” Definitely, there’s a lot of parallels with pro wrestling and Go-Big Show. There’s a lot of great contestants who could be pro wrestlers.
Who was the biggest critic of your judging?
I want to say Alex Marvez. Because he really treated it as a family show for him, as Go-Big Show is a family show. And I don’t think he liked, ultimately, the decisions I made, as we got into the semifinals and the finals. But I’m there. I’m there live, it’s right in front of me. So sometimes, perhaps, there’s a difference between what I’m seeing right in front of me and how it looks on television. This season, though, is so bombastic and in your face — spoiler, there’s a ton of fire — that I do think they’ll probably have the same feeling I had sitting there watching it.
Speaking of fire, I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask about the fire table spot from your recent match with Andrade El Idolo. At this point are you just trying to top yourself every time AEW is back in Atlanta?
I’m going to try and keep my language somewhat clean, but (that was) maybe the dumbest thing I’ve ever done But man, it was cool. Dumb, but also what a good image, in terms of just that’s how we do Dynamite. That specific incident wasn’t so much about topping myself, I just hate in wrestling when you’ll hear, “Oh, it’s a street fight. It’s a Tupelo Falls Count Anywhere match or whatever,” and then it’s just Basic Betty, it’s checking boxes versus actually taking that level of danger into account. And that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to make sure people know that, if there’s a Street Fight on AEW, it’s a Street Fight. It’s going to leave you with a lasting memory and, ultimately, I think we did that.
Cody Rhodes upped the ante against @AndradeElIdolo in last week’s Atlanta Street Fight, and the fire still burns inside the AmericanNightmare to be better than the best in AEW
See more on RoadTo AEWDynamite: https://t.co/ddU5RIwphc pic.twitter.com/nQPqRa3EmY
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) December 8, 2021
There have been a lot of comparisons over the last year between you and Homelander from The Boys. I know you’ve said in the past that the ring gear similarities weren’t intentional, but how do you feel about getting compared to an evil Superman?
I never want to ruin it for anybody. I never judge our fans or hold them accountable. They pay their money. They can do whatever they’d like. That’s the beauty of being a fan, but I can tell you Sandra Gray, who’s been making my gear since Dashing Cody Rhodes, has no idea about Homelander. And now, that jacket is forever synonymous with it, but it is a really unique parallel. I know people have a lot of fun with fan art when it’s concerned. With what’s happening with me and the reactions, I don’t want to ruin it for anybody, but I feel like the luckiest wrestler alive that we’re able to cause this polarity, that we’re able to have every show be clickbaited and discussed.
And just the thing I am most excited about is, as with all things AEW, we’re not going a path that perhaps you saw on another wrestling show. We are going to be going in a different direction and that makes for great wrestling because it’s new, because it’s fresh. But yeah, with everything that’s going on with the crowds for me right now, I really have to pinch myself, in terms of (being) very lucky.
He was working alongside you way back in Ring of Honor during the “Bullet Club Civil War” storyline, so how do you feel about Hangman Page’s rise in stardom over the last year?
He endured. And wrestling is all about those who endure. People watch wrestling for their whole lives. This is an industry that, really, once you’re in, I feel like it never leaves you. And often you’ll wonder, “Well, why is he or she still going? Oh, my gosh.” It’s because it’s their life’s work. Hangman’s a great example. He went from being a lesser-known guy — not by any means as an insult — in the Bullet Club. And with so much focus on what was happening with Kenny (Omega) and myself and with what Matt and Nick (Jackson) were doing, and Adam Cole right before he had left to go to NXT, I think people might’ve forgot a little bit about Hangman. And Hangman was always capable of these bell-to-bell bangers on a level that very few people can pull out. And also, one of the strongest wrestlers I’ve ever encountered.
What he’s done is he’s endured. He’s made himself the best wrestler in the world. That’s why he’s carrying the world championship. And he has superseded that position of being the lesser-known guy in the Bullet Club to being the number-one-ranked wrestler in the world. So the journey, for those who got on board with Hangman … If you’re not on board with him, get on board with him now, but for those who were on board, they’ve been validated, rightfully so.
One of the biggest images from AEW Dynamite‘s final episode on TNT was the Undisputed Era reunited in an AEW ring. How do you feel about those three joining the company?
…If we’re being honest, part of me will always think, “Hey, these guys were on the other channel and we beat them off their night.” That element of competitiveness will probably always be there. However, if you look at (Kyle) O’Reilly and Bobby (Fish) and Cole, with the free agents, with Brian Danielson and (CM) Punk and Cole, I always tell people the one I’m looking forward to the most, mixing it up, is Cole because I think we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg on what he’s capable of. And, now, what the three of them were capable of. And they certainly did a lot. Tony Khan talks about, often, how well they were doing against us, and now they are part of us. Now they’re in our house and I look forward to what all three of them can do. In addition to I look forward to seeing Cole’s stock just shoot through the roof, hopefully.
October 2, 2019: Undisputed Era used as WWE’s biggest weapon against the debut of AEW Dynamite
February 14, 2021: Faction Break-up
April 13, 2021: NXT loses the war, moves to Tuesdays
December 29, 2021: Cole, Fish & O’Reilly stand tall together to end the final Dynamite on TNT pic.twitter.com/6U2OE2DoKN
Go-Big Show Season 2 will premiere on TBS on Thursday, Jan. 6 at 9 p.m. ET