Tonight, All Elite Wrestling returns to what became its home base during their COVID restricted shows, Daily’s Place. However, tonight, the arena will be full with a live crowd for AEW: Dynamite, and to celebrate the ‘Homecoming’, AEW has a stacked card that will include Malakai Black’s first match in the company, against former TNT Champion Cody Rhodes. Chris Jericho will continue his Five Labors of Jericho, as he wrestles his past rival, legendary luchador Juventud Guerrera, Miro will defend his TNT Championship against Lee Johnson, and so much more is in store for fans on tonight’s all-star show.
To discuss tonight’s AEW Dynamite: Homecoming, Cody Rhodes joined a media call ahead of his big match, which SteelChair Magazine had the privilege of joining. Cody discussed various topics such as Malakai Black’s early arrival, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts impact, Bray Wyatt’s shocking WWE release, and so much more. Here are some of the highlights.
How plans for Malakai Black changed with him free earlier than expected:
“From my understanding, no plans have been changed. Whenever there is a free agent of that calibre, male or female, you have to jump on it, and that’s not an area where I was the one who contacted or facilitated it – this is the same guy who kicked me square in the jaw on his very first night to make a statement. Tony Khan is responsible for bringing in Tommy End or Malakai Black, whatever he’d like to go by, but no plans were changed. If anything, we were presented with something incredibly special. Dynamite is the heart and soul of the company and what we do, and being able to put these matches on television, this is huge.
“Today I just watched Jason Isbell, Paul Walter Hauser, and various other celebrities comment on who they think is going to win, and that, that’s so special because this is about our weekly television show, and it is not the classic old school, let’s save it for the PPV, let’s stretch it out when we only do four PPVs a year. Again, TV is where our bread is buttered, and this is a massive, massive match for Homecoming, and in addition to that, it’s a massive card. So, him not having the traditional 90 days but having 30 days has really worked in our favour. But again, we’ll all find out together, everyone on this call and myself, if the magic is there, and if the passion is there. Because as AEW fans can attest, you can tell right away with a free agent, with someone who’s new coming in, it’s all about the passion.”
(SteelChair Magazine) Jake Roberts influence on Malakai Black:
“I think every, gosh, I don’t want to say heel or babyface in this setting, but everyone who has that layer of mysteriousness to them, every wrestler, they do have a little bit of Jake Roberts in them. And they’re probably actively trying to have more because he was so good at translating a story and also presented himself so differently from the other wrestlers of his time. I’m actually, this is the first time I’m hearing it that there’s a connection there with the two, and I’m glad to hear it because people like Jake Roberts, luminaries like Jake Roberts, Arn Anderson, and Tully Blanchard, etc., etc. – to have them backstage at All Elite Wrestling is like having the book right at your disposal on how to be successful in wrestling.
“You’d be surprised at how many of us young yayhoos argue back and forth on how we should do things when they’re sitting right there. Guys who have made, no hyperbole with this statement, millions of dollars, and they’re contributing now. Jim Ross is another example. These luminaries, these legends jumped on board to come to a start-up wrestling company that three years ago, nobody was fully thinking would become what it has become today, as we really settle into this golden age of wrestling on television. So that’s good to hear that Jake is inspiring to talents still, and he will continue to do so. I personally would like to thank Jake because I teach a developmental class, I teach a group of young wrestlers often before call time at television and Jake has been there with me for every one of those classes, and if I’m being totally honest, he’s a far better teacher and far more qualified than I am, and he has been incredibly helpful with young people. People like Brock Anderson, people like Lee Johnson, who is wrestling Miro for the TNT Championship – I’m rooting for Lee for the most coveted title in wrestling at Dynamite Homecoming tomorrow. So yeah, big shout out and props to Jake.”
AEW back on the road, planning a live touring schedule and coming to UK:
“Well, domestically, Rafael and Chris Herrington, the EVPs, and Tony Khan, we do have a good layout of where we’d like to go. We also had a lot of shows, which would be makeup shows that have now been scheduled and locked in because of the global pandemic and everything that happened to all of us. So we’ve got a great calendar sprung out ahead of us in terms of it’s fairly well mapped out. I don’t wanna give a false number on that, but there’s a full touring schedule from East Coast to the West Coast.
“When it comes to the United Kingdom, I feel like I eat my words on this, but it wasn’t my fault (laughs) that the global pandemic happened. But the United Kingdom is a massive part of what we do – it’s massive. They’re some of the best wrestling fans on the planet. I had always envisioned that the match with Anthony Ogogo was meant to happen in the United Kingdom. I would just revel in that whole fun patriotic battle. But a lot of that is going to fall on what happens with the variant, with vaccinations, and with health and safety because we need the fans to be healthy, and we need the crew to be healthy. We’re able to make changes as we’ve seen in the past year, being a company that really led the way in how to do television during a pandemic. So I can’t say that it’s for sure going to happen, but I can say, if you run a wrestling company and you don’t intend on going to the UK, then I don’t think you really run a wrestling company. So, it’s in our minds, it’s just not on a schedule yet. But we owe it to the United Kingdom, our partners at ITV, and I hope it’s something we can accomplish.”
Differences between Rampage and Dynamite:
“With Rampage, we’re gonna have a bunch of news, hopefully coming in the following week. But I can say a few things about the show itself, one, I think you’ll see with the show that it’s more centred around the fight itself, the match itself, being that it’s a one-hour programme. I think you’ll see a little bit more fight-forward focus. In addition to that, Mark Henry will be joining the booth on commentary, and I think that’s a really fun perspective. I’ve known Mark for quite some time.
“I was just – I’m very proud of this – I was able to start a Community Outreach department at All Elite Wrestling, and Mark Henry was one of the first people that I had to have on that team. He would have started his own department if he could because of his context in this world, his ambassadorship all around with various outlets, as we go from market to market to do good. I’m very proud. I know it’s not exactly on the crosshairs of your question, but I’m very proud of the Community Outreach group. Thunder Rosa’s incredibly helpful. We did wonderful stuff with Salvation Army. Tomorrow we’ve reached our goal for Wounded Warriors, and many of them will be in attendance at Homecoming. Hats off to the captain Shawn Dean. I wanted a bit more responsibility in the company, and this department is an area where I’m really going to sink my teeth in because I truly believe in however famous, or however you want to put it, that you are, your sphere of influence and your ability to positively affect the towns that you go to, is a wonderful, wonderful thing that you can do, for really no cost. So I’m very excited about Community Outreach.
“I’m excited about Rampage, to hear Mark on commentary and to see a show that, to your point, having these different identities with Elevation, with Dark, with Dynamite, it will have its own – I kind of want to break a spoiler – you know what – what the hell, every now and then I get into a little bit of trouble. I think, so it’s maybe not a spoiler. I think the canvas with the logo in the centre, which is one of my favourite things ever, is returning for Rampage. I think. So ya’ll can all tweet me endlessly if I was wrong about that, but that’s as much of a spoiler as I can give you on Rampage. More news coming this week. I’m very excited about it.”
Reaction to Bray Wyatt firing, place for him on AEW:
“Uh, Bray Wyatt, before he was Bray Wyatt, was my rookie at that second season of NXT, and the Rotunda family and the Rhodes family, they certainly go way back. I can’t comment on if I see a spot for him when it comes to us. But I can tell you he’s an incredibly creative individual, an incredibly creative man, and whenever I see someone like that lose their job or move into the next phase of their career, as someone who left WWE on my own, at the time that was super unheard of to leave, I can’t be everyone’s sounding board, but I really want to be. I’ll give you an example, I’ll pivot away, I would have never thought that Matt Cardona was going to end up being this GCW Champion and getting pelted with trash, but I should’ve thought he would be doing something, and that’s kind of, circle back to Bray, I can’t comment on if he fits in with us, but I can say if he has an ounce of passion for this, that guy can fit in anywhere because he’s a very special, special talent. So that’s really all I can say there.”
Rampage sell-out and United Center being a reoccurring location:
“I know for Tony Khan, it was a childhood dream to run the United Center and to sell it out instantly, I think we can call it an instant sell-out, gosh that’s just wild to say out loud. With that in mind, I don’t think it’s really about the United Center, Now Arena, or even Wintrust Arena that was such a loud and rambunctious crowd for Revolution. I think Chicago itself will always be a destination for All Elite Wrestling. Chicago’s a really unique wrestling town, and it’s a wonderful city people like to travel there. For me, I don’t think I’ve ever worked in the United Center. I don’t think I’ve ever wrestled in the United Center, I really don’t.
“I can’t wait to see the vibes there because, obviously, my heart personally sits with the Now Arena because there’s a plaque on the side of the building with my face on it, from when we were able to do ALL IN. I just, you can’t go wrong wrestling in Chicago. That will be the destination for AEW. Chicago will always be a part of our footprint, and it’s also really exciting to see young wrestlers. We have such a young roster, look at Top Flight, look at those kids. For them to be able to wrestle in a city like that, on an event like that, it’s eye-opening and educational as a wrestler. So I don’t have a favourite building, my friend. I am excited about the United Center, and the fact we could fill it instantly, that really emboldens our fans – it begets the question – where is next?”
Keeping momentum of the last few weeks:
“I think the answer there is what you see front and centre, as much as it’s the focus and priority of the show, what’s in the ring, what’s very important for keeping the momentum happening is what is happening with the younger talent that’s developing, not in the ring at that moment. Building new stars. That’s something we hear in wrestling all the time. Building new stars and how it wasn’t possible, and you can’t do it, and I would completely disagree. Take a look at Darby Allin, really, look at him, there are kids at every crowd – that’s one thing I do at these shows, I count the shirts I see in the front row. I see the kids with the face paint on, that’s huge to put your hat on as a company, is building your next golden circle.
“We know who the golden circle of the company is right now. Their faces are on all the billboards, they’re all the action figures, all those things, but that will change. And this is a company that will not make that mistake where we hang on too long. When it’s time to change, it’s time to change, and developing young talent is crucial. That’s why I love Dark and why I love Elevation so much, to see those challenges and things done right, stakes made, all that good stuff. Yeah, developing news stars, that’s it. The resource for wrestling is wrestlers. So we have to make more.”