The moment of truth is finally here. Tonight on AEW Dynamite, Cody Rhodes will team up with rising star, Red Velvet, to face the team of up-and-comer Jade Cargill, and her partner, the larger-than-life, Shaquille O’Neal. The feud has been building for months now as the animosity between these four continues to boil over both in and out of AEW. This is especially true in regard to the growing tension between Cody and Shaq.
It all started when Cargill arrived on the scene to confront Cody, who had christened himself a giant killer. Cargill promised Cody that she had a real giant, an all-time great at that. Jade then brought Shaq into AEW, where during an interview with himself and Brandi Rhodes, things got tense as Brandi threw water at the multi-time NBA Champion. Cody offered to settle things in the ring which led to Shaq using his platform on TNT’s Inside the NBA, to issue a challenge for a tag team match of him and Cargill vs Cody and Brandi. He told them to name the time and the place and so they did, setting up tonight’s showdown, which marks Shaq’s return to the ring for the first time since he took part in the WrestleMania Andre the Giant Battle Royal in 2016.
Of course, with Brandi announcing her pregnancy shortly after the feud was ignited, Cody needed to find a new partner and find one he did. Enter Red Velvet, who had her own issues with Cargill. Velvet stepped up to the plate and on Wednesday night, she’ll have a chance to take part in the biggest match of her young career.
Before the match, both Cody and Shaq appeared on SportsNation together to discuss their thoughts on the match and engage in some pre-game trash talk. The two also took part in separate interviews with AEW where each man was asked a series of questions about the match, preparation and more. You can read the full interview transcript, courtesy of AEW, below:
Cody: “It’s Not An If, It’s a When (I Beat Shaq)”
Q: You’ve shown plenty of confidence throughout this feud. Does Shaq’s size and stature not intimidate you whatsoever?
A: Well, Shaquille O’Neal is over seven feet tall. He’s somewhere between 350 and 400 pounds and he’s in great shape. If anything, I wouldn’t say it was false confidence on my behalf, but it’s more wrestler confidence. I know the formula for selling a match and perhaps that’s all it is, perhaps it’s just false bravado, it’s just big loud talking, and a lot of wind, based on I want people to see Shaq in an AEW ring. I think the person who leaves AEW at night and goes to the Nightmare Factory and trains, that being me, has a different outlook on it. And I have wrestled some of the better giants in the industry. I’ve wrestled the best giant in this industry and I’m sure I can’t say his name at this moment. I couldn’t be more prepared for this match. It’s a simple stick-and-move type match. I hate to reference Goro and Johnny Cage but it ain’t all that different. This guy’s not gonna be able to keep up with my wheels so the moment he is blown up is the moment he’s not able to pick me up. That’s the moment I’m able to capitalize. And I should be confident now that I think about this because I’m a wrestler, he is not. He’s coming into our world. It would be no different than if I walked on the court with him, I would not be expecting to win, I don’t think Shaq is expecting to win. And I think Red Velvet is the ace up the sleeve. Red Velvet is an active wrestler compared to Jade who currently is an anomaly. We don’t know. We just know that she is incredibly strong and has a size advantage just like Shaq does on Red Velvet but I think she is the ace up the sleeve in a match like this.
Q: What does bringing a name like Shaquille O’Neal into AEW mean for the future of this company?
A: Having somebody like Shaq on AEW is, its a nice indicator that we’re not playing by any rules. Can be anybody. There are these traditional wrestling companies and wrestling rules in conservative wrestling organizations that if you look at them you know very much what you’re gonna get. There might be a cookie-cutter element to that and I don’t mean to disparage but when it comes to AEW, we don’t have those rules. Shaq wanted to have a match with me. He’s the one who put it out there on social media and floated it out there in the first place. I think be careful what you wish for because AEW will absolutely give it to you.
Q: This is a mixed tag match with Red Velvet as your partner. What are you most looking forward to in teaming with her?
A: Off the record, well it’s not off the record because I’m saying it to you and the camera. Unbeknownst to many is Red Velvet is not completely signed at AEW. Red Velvet is kinda on a retainer deal, tier 0 essentially, and this might be too much inside baseball but you asked, so I’m gonna tell you. What’s most exciting is when Arn Anderson presented her live on Dynamite and she pretty much dropped the mic and let us know who she was and left, didn’t wait for some glad-handing and some hugs and to make it official. She rose to that occasion. I anticipate she rises to the occasion in a match like this. I have all the confidence in the world in her as does Brandi and I’d love that to parlay into a full career here at AEW. I mean talk about somebody genuinely seizing the moment in the middle of this dumb, unrelenting pandemic. That doesn’t matter where you fall on the political spectrum of it, it is unrelenting. Please end. In the process of this AEW, we haven’t let up one bit, and have continued to provide content and ridiculous matchups not unlike this one with myself, Red Velvet vs. Jade and Shaq. But I really do think that Red Velvet who is filling in for Brandi will make it clear that she’s not a fill-in, she’s not a substitute, that Red Velvet is going to matter here at AEW.
Q: If you defeat Shaq on Wednesday night, where does Cody Rhodes go from here?
I mean, it’s not really an if. Again if I walked onto the court with Shaquille O’Neal, I am fully anticipating, that I would beat him…no,no,no… It’s not an if, to me, it’s a when. Me and Red Velvet will defeat Shaq and we will defeat Jade. And it’s back to business for me. I’m not gonna ask him for a stake in Papa Johns. I’m not gonna want his Rolls Royce, one of 31 different vehicles that he has. I’m not gonna hold it over his head. He did the work, I know that. He’s trained, he’s prepared. He’s not looking at this or looking at our sport as a joke. He’s looking at it with sincerity and love and I hope a partnership will be formed if anything. Sometimes the best way to bond is through battle and that’s what’s gonna happen. I don’t anticipate that…I think Shaq will get a few shots in and I’m gonna feel those. Just look at the size, I’m gonna feel those. I gotta be able to bounce back and gotta be able to have the chin to come back at him but at the end of the day, I hope he has a new respect for AEW and a new respect for me and I’d love to see him more.
Q: What do you think about Shaq calling you a “cupcake” on national TV?
A: I don’t…I mean, he called me a cupcake, he said a few other things, he did a spinning back elbow into some plexiglass. I think Shaq has a sense of occasion, and I think Shaq knows what it means to build a match. I think he might be far more wrestler than we think but I’ve been called far worse than a cupcake, I really have and maybe that’s what this will come down to. When Shaq is looking up at the lights for the classic three-second tan and he’s now an official wrestler and he’s officially 0-1. Maybe that’s the first thing I’ll eat when I come backstage. Maybe I’ll have my very pregnant wife hand me a cupcake and just nom, nom, nom, nom, nom right in front of big Shaq, let him know, sure I love cupcakes. I anticipate the war of words will always happen with Shaquille O’Neal and myself. I look forward to it, it’s honestly fun to see someone with such a sphere of influence and such an impressive legacy and continuing just entrepreneur, it’s fun to see his interest in AEW, it really is.
Q: What can fans expect from this match?
A: I think fans…I would hope if they join us for the first time to see AEW and they perhaps come for Shaq, I would hope they would stay for someone like Tully Blanchard who is returning on the very same night at the Crossroads on March 3rd. That’s always the goal when you bring in somebody of such a scope and that has such a sphere of influence is that maybe you come for Shaq and find someone else you fall in love with, doesn’t matter who. Wrestling is full of personalities and their job is to relate to you at home. So I would hope that for the AEW fans and new fans that we can just broaden our family. To me, that’s the ultimate goal. For Shaq he wants to win a match, for me, I want to continue to grow AEW and I’ll do anything I can do to continue to grow our brand. And if that means throwing some stuff against the wall that doesn’t stick, that’s okay, it’s a jumping-off point. It’s for lack of a better idea. I’d rather do that than sit there and freeze and do nothing. It’s no secret every Wednesday night, this is a dog fight. The Wednesday night being opposed on television by another wrestling show, it’s a dog fight and I love it. I absolutely revel in it because i think we have the best show, I think we have the best wrestling show there is but the goal is to make the next week even better and the next week even better and that sounds so, ‘oh it’s impossible,’ but it’s not because that’s what we’ve been doing.
Shaq: “I’m Gonna Show You What Power Looks Like in AEW”
Q: What exactly does Shaquille O’Neal have to prove in the wrestling ring? What provoked you to get in the ring against a wrestling legacy like Cody Rhodes?
A: I have nothing to prove but little cupcake Cody challenged me. It was my fault, I was being interviewed by his lovely wife and I mentioned Jade because she’s a new upcoming superstar and I guess she got mad and threw water on me and I guess a man is supposed to protect his wife but I thought it was over but you challenged me at my job on TNT so I’ll be there on March 3rd, don’t worry about it.
Q: What is your finishing maneuver? What’s your favorite move to execute?
A: My finishing move is called the Black Tornado, and you’ll see it. And he’s gonna need help, he’s probably gonna have his friends jump in and all that stuff but that ain’t gonna matter.
Q: What’s the biggest difference between training for basketball and training for a wrestling match for you?
A: Well I don’t need to train for wrestling, I’m here at his spot because I’m hoping to see him here so I could knock him out but he never shows up at his own gym so I’m just here lifting weights and running around but I don’t need to train for cupcakes and red cinnamon bun, whatever her name is, I don’t even know her name.
Q: Who from the NBA do you think could take on a challenge like this? Who has the guts and intensity to step in the ring?
A: There’s probably a lot of guys who have the ability but listen I’m not coming to wrestle, I’m coming to fight. I’m gonna show you what power looks like in AEW.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can catch AEW Dynamite Wednesday nights at 8 PM ET on TNT and AEW DARK Tuesday nights at 7 PM ET on YouTube.
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