Cody Rhodes and Shaq will be on the opposite sides of the ring tonight, but they both agree that they want to set the new bar for what a celebrity match can be.
Shaquille O’Neal recently told the Associated Press that his match will “top them all,” referring to the various celebrity matches in wrestling history, but Pat McAfee, a celebrity wrestler himself, also said “it won’t” set the new bar. On Wednesday’s AEW media call, WrestleZone’s Bill Pritchard asked Rhodes if he feels extra pressure facing a non-wrestler in Shaq, noting that Rhodes has experience in that area as he’s worked Stephen Amell before. Shaq and McAfee’s respective comments were also referenced, and Cody was asked if he pays attention to any of that kind of talk about “setting the bar” going into tonight’s tag match.
While he responded to McAfee’s comments first and said it was “super bizarre” to hear from Pat, Cody did say he support Shaq’s comments and does hope they do set a new bar for what a celebrity match can be.
“I like that Shaq made that comment, I stand by that comment myself. I’d make the same one because you have to continue to raise the bar and you can’t do—there’s a lot of old veteran wrestlers that have their opinions on how you’re supposed to do a celebrity match. My opinion is this—you have to wrestle. If you’re showing up for a wrestling match, you have to wrestle. It can’t be, ‘They’re not from our world’ and ‘they shouldn’t be able to lock up’—none of that. Shaq trained. I never trained with him, but he trained for this,” Rhodes explained, “so I anticipate that he’s going to know his way around the ring to a degree.”
“Now, he doesn’t have the experience that I have for sure, but if he did train, and we’re talking about a multiple-time World Champion in the NBA. We’re talking about a former MVP. That athleticism is once in a lifetime athleticism, which is where I would be confident in saying hopefully it is the best celebrity match of all time because if he did train, and he’s the man we all know that is ‘Shaq’, then by all means,” Rhodes noted, “I hope we can set a new standard and raise that bar. Not only set a new standard but perhaps give a different outlook on what a celebrity or crossover-type match should be.”
Check out the full media call below: