Cody & Brandi Rhodes Talk AEW Contract Exclusivity, Competitive Pay & WWE Ejecting Their Fans From Smackdown

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All Elite Wrestling shook the foundations of Jacksonville, FL this Tuesday night with a thunderous fireworks display to cap off an incredible “Double or Nothing” rally, as hundreds of fans packed outside TIAA Bank Field and more than 100,000 people watched a live broadcast of the event online.

Throughout the rally we were treated to some major reveals and breaking news, including the AEW acquisitions of several faces, both old and new. From Being the Elite standards like SoCal Uncensored, all the way to the shocking appearances of Chris Jericho and PAC (fka Neville), it appears that the fledgling All Elite roster is quickly coming together.

We caught up with AEW Executive Vice President Cody Rhodes and Chief Branding Officer Brandi Rhodes following the event, as part of a press gaggle to discuss a myriad of important topics.

Of course, one thing fresh on many people’s minds were reports that right across the street, where WWE was hosting a Smackdown Live television taping, fans were being turned away or kicked out of the venue for wearing AEW merchandise — allegedly, even if they had already purchased a ticket.

Cody: “I mean we blew up the whole sky right across the street from their building. Honestly, if people part with money to get tickets, you can’t turn them away.”

Brandi: “I know that a lot of times is if there’s something they can’t show you turn it inside out, or you put it down, , as long as they comply I hope they were allowed to stay.”

Cody: “I bet you it’s isolated. I can’t see them going full court press, no AEW merch inside, and if they did that’s a mistake. Jacksonville, for WWE on the shows I’ve been on, it’s a soft market. It’s not a market that they’ve regularly sold out. So if you have fans parting with their money, you’re an idiot to turn them away.”

The AEW power couple were also asked about the level of exclusivity surrounding the new contracts being offered by the start-up promotion, specifically when it comes to wrestlers being able to compete for other promotions, as well as keep up with their own passion projects such as Joey Janela’s Spring Break series.

Cody: “I can actually confirm that Joey will be able to do Spring Break shows. Chris will be able to do his cruise.”

Brandi: “The idea is for us to be friendly with a lot of people. We definitely don’t want to shut doors. There’s no reason to.”

Cody: “It’s case by case. This is my first time licensing people and contracting people. You want to know what they want — what their heart goes for. Chris for example, and his cruise. For me and for [Brandi] this is it though. I looked at this sucker the other day, and it’s more years than any WWE contract I’ve ever signed. I know why. I’m committing my life to this. SO much is happening that I forget to remind myself of that.”

One thing promised by Cody, as well as the Young Bucks during their presenting at Tuesday’s rally, was that AEW would be taking care of its talent in a way that the wrestling industry rarely sees. Rhodes spoke on his vision to “raise the profile” for wrestlers everywhere by offering competitive contracts, and also clarified that they would be footing the bill for any and all injuries that take part inside an AEW ring.

Cody: “A lot of concerns the guys will have is, what if I get hurt in the ring? That’s the one thing WWE covers. We can confirm anybody that gets hurt in an AEW ring will be 100% taken care of by AEW. But again back to the case-by-case element, the first thing we want to do in raising the profile, is raise pay. We’re a start-up so that’s kind of backwards, but that’s okay — that’s our goal. I meant it what I said. Happy wrestlers means happier fans. You can’t pay someone minimum wage to go to a wrestling school and expect them to be excited about that. We’re not doing that. We’re going to move forward and hopefully after Double or Nothing we can tighten up the infrastructure even more. My goal, I’d like to see wrestling be just like the television industry. That treatment, that care you get for your time on screen — you have a comparable influence as a professional wrestler. You’re just as recognizable, and you should be just as taken care of.”

Finally, the two were asked about a potential television deal and whether or not that was still the primary goal for All Elite Wrestling going forward, or if there were any alternative plans in place such as streaming services or YouTube.

Brandi: “Obviously that’s always the goal for everything. We are a start-up and so we are in some very baby phases right now. What I can say is, more information on that will be forthcoming, sooner rather than later.”

Cody: “Did you see me winking? I was winking at you.”

Cody: “We’re real slow and we’re going to stagger [information]. Obviously to have Chris Jericho here today to give us the rub, and for him to go all in with AEW — I wanted that to be the news today. We held some things back because we want to do this slow. We want to do it correct. We’re going to keep putting things out there correctly or people. TV is massively important, but it’s not the end-all, be-all as you’ve seen on Being the Elite and the medium we have, but we have big plans.”

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