Cody Rhodes Confirms AEW Is Scouting Stadiums, Talks Potential TV Deal
As previously noted, All Elite Wrestling Executive VP Cody Rhodes recently spoke with Wrestling Inc. as part of our WINCLY podcast. During the discussion, Rhodes revealed that he'll be traveling with fellow AEW higher ups to begin scouting out stadiums as potential venues for future AEW events. Rhodes also touched on the pending television deals for AEW and the company's mindset with making future announcements.
Rhodes admitted to Wrestling Inc.'s Nick Hausman that he's harboring some guilt after the astounding demand for pre-sale tickets for AEW Double Or Nothing. He explained that there's a soundbite floating around that recounts his "almost" guarantee that each AEW fan will get their hands on some tickets. Rhodes is nevertheless excited by the turnout and he thinks it's opened the company's eyes to the potential for future venues.
"I actually felt a little bad because - I mean, I felt great about the sell out and the first-ever, same-day sell out in Vegas for wrestling ever - but I actually feel a little bad because there's this soundbite of me the night before talking about the pre-sale code, where I said, 'And I can almost guarantee you'll all get tickets,' Rhodes recalled. "And I was just excited, and I'm so glad I said 'almost' because I did not anticipate [the sell out]. I was getting a live box office update from our market rep and I did not anticipate 43,000 people signing in with a pre-sale code.
"So, if we put that in to a little bit of perspective, most fans don't just buy a single ticket," Rhodes continued. "And if you scrub out some of the maybe-scalpers and you scrub out some of the troll accounts, or burners, or whatever we call them - still, let's say that was only 30,000. Again, most fans don't buy a single ticket. It just was really flattering and eye opening, and I think if maybe it's something that we're looking at in the future. We want to run within our means, but maybe our means are a little bit more than I anticipated."
Although it's become more clear just how successful a larger event may be for AEW, the focus of their upcoming Jacksonville show will be more centered around gun violence and charities pertaining to that. After Jacksonville, Rhodes is excited to see if AEW can ultimately get in the numbers range of a WrestleMania or Superbowl crowd. He even went as far as to reveal that he'll be traveling to stadiums with fellow AEW management to begin scouting out potential venues. At the end of the day, Tony Khan and his fellow financial advisers are guaranteeing that all business ventures stay in the guidelines Khan has established.
"Because the Jacksonville show has a strong charity element...it's not about making money," Rhodes explained. "It's about helping the victims of gun violence and those effected by it, and that charity hopefully we'll be able to announce soon. That partnership, really. For that [show], I'm not sure if we're looking at maybe more down the road. To be frank, I have a couple site visits in the next few weeks that are stadiums. So, it doesn't mean anything. There's no promises, no contracts, no nothing like that. Just me and my business partners checking out a few spots.
"That would be really exciting [to host that many people]," Rhodes said. "I mean, that would be a dream come true to have over 40,000+. When you get between that 40 and 80 range a Wrestlemania-like event has, that Superbowl event-like has...that's something special. But I know that we don't want to - we really got to do this right. We got to crawl before we walk and we've got to walk before we run, and you've seen companies that have a lot of financial backing take shop that they shouldn't take, so, we're just trying to be careful.
"I think people think, oh, there's four wrestlers running this thing," Rhodes continued. "And then there's Tony, he's the only one, and I don't think they realize that Tony has flanked his companies, all of his companies, with very smart people. Some of the people who have been on loan to us from the Jacksonville Jaguars are phenomenal and just top of their field. The money, financial strategy, DTM financial strategy - that guy isn't letting us spend any money that we don't have a right to. We're being very careful."
How many shows AEW is expecting to put on each year is still being decided, however, Rhodes explained that their goal is to annually produce many shows. He revealed that another show will be following shortly after the Jacksonville charity event takes place.
"It all depends. There are some large variables that we're talking about," Rhodes stated. "The idea though, I don't think I'm speaking too far out. The idea is a full company. Now, it's business model might be different than pro wrestling as a whole but this is a full company, so we'd like to run many shows. Right now, we have Double or Nothing on the books and the Jacksonville show will follow some time swiftly behind it. Other than that, I'd ruin announcements that are yet to come if I said anymore."
Rhodes touched on the buzzworthy topic of AEW's potential television deals, mentioning that a major TV deal remains an important aspect of AEW's ongoing exposure. Rhodes expound only a bit further, claiming that their potential deal could create a "massive shift in the pro wrestling industry." He is adamant that AEW continue revealing each announcement in a calculated manner.
"I can't talk about it but I know that I was quoted as saying, not by you guys, that 'a TV deal was not important.' And I think that in the context I was speaking, I was talking about how important social media and do-it-yourself brands are compared to the traditional TV median," Rhodes explained. "But I also - let's be serious, major TV is a huge thing. And it would be a massive shift in the pro wrestling industry. It would be a change-the-world-like move. But I can't talk about any pending TV deals.
"A lot of the information that's out there is very accurate about what we're seeking to do and how frequently we're seeking to do it," Rhodes said. "But I don't want to discourage any future partners. I can say that people have been really calculated about how we roll out announcements. We want to be proper. We can't just stand on the podium in Jacksonville and say, 'Hey, here's the entire business model, here's all of our plans, here's x-amount of money.' We can't do that. I know the business of the business is very entertaining but I think if people put their trust in us like they have, we won't let them down."
AEW presents Double or Nothing on May 25th from the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV. Tickets are sold out but the event will be available to stream via FITE.
Cody's full WINCLY interview can be heard in the embedded player below. During Cody's interview he discusses how he is recovering from surgery, the decision to launch AEW, the record breaking sell out they had in Vegas, Arn Anderson's reported WWE release, his friendship with newly released WWE Superstar Tye Dillinger, how AEW may handle a developmental system, the latest on AEW's TV deal, Billy Gunn as their first producer and more.