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TNT’s Wrestling Rookie Steps Into Ring

All Elite Wrestling: Dynamite begins on TNT Oct. 2, with matches taking place live each Wednesday. Tony Khan is president and CEO of All Elite Wrestling, and talent includes Chris Jericho, The Young Bucks and Cody and Brandi Rhodes.

Brandi Rhodes

Brandi Rhodes

TNT parent WarnerMedia said All Elite Wrestling offers fans “more athleticism along with real sports analytics.”

Brandi Rhodes, who was a reporter in Flint, Michigan, before switching to wrestling, is both a wrestler and chief brand officer for AEW. She spoke with Multichannel News about how to build a wrestling outfit from scratch, and how AEW differs from WWE. An edited transcript follows.

MCN: Where does the talent come from for a new wrestling league? Do you make talent or get it from other leagues?
Brandi Rhodes:
The wrestling world is very vast these days. People are unaware of how vast it is because they’ve only been aware of one brand of wrestling for the past 20 or so years. The independent scene is where most of wrestling thrives, and that’s where you see a lot of our newer names come from. You’re seeing these people that are incredible and you’re saying: “Where on earth have they been? I’ve never heard of them.” That’s because they’ve been on the independent circuit for a long time and that’s not necessarily televised.

MCN: How is AEW different from WWE?
AEW is different from all the competitive brands because we’re so focused on bell-to-bell action. We’re calling ourselves sports-centric, in that what takes place between the ropes, in the ring, is most important to us. You’ll see a lot of high-intensity action. We let the stories play out inside the ring, not backstage, not so much TV-style drama. AEW will feel more like you’re watching a sporting event than what some people may be used to with professional wrestling.

MCN: How important is live to the program?
The live audience there, carrying people on — that’s how you know how intense the activity is. The reaction’s happening right then and there. Nothing is being created for you; it’s all actually happening.

MCN: Who’s a wrestler for viewers to keep an eye on?
People are familiar with Chris Jericho and my husband Cody and The Young Bucks because they’ve been making names for themselves for a long time. But these are important people to continue to watch because you’re going to see them evolve right before your eyes.

Then there are a lot of new stars, especially in the women’s division, like Nyla Rose and Britt Baker. You’re gonna see a lot of Japanese talent you haven’t seen before. All them are must-watch. You’re going to see a full evolution of the athletes right in front of you. If you’re not a huge wrestling fan, it’s a fantastic time to jump right on board with AEW because you’re going to be there at the ground level, seeing everybody flourish from the start.

MCN: How did you get your start in wrestling?
I was hired to be a wrestler but fit into the role of ring announcer because of my background in television and media. I spent quite a bit of time in that role sitting at ringside, watching all the matches. I always wanted to be involved in the action so I stepped away from that role and just set out on a path of my own and blazed an independent wrestling trail. Now I’m a professional wrestler and a manager for my husband, as well as CBO [chief brand officer] of this immensely growing company. It’s been quite a ride for me in the wrestling business, and we’re still going.

MCN: Do you have a signature move in the ring?
I broke my collarbone about a year and a half ago and had a metal plate put into my shoulder. I use that metal plate a lot to my advantage; one of my signature moves is a spear that literally breaks people in half if I hit it just right. It’s a guaranteed win for me most of the time. Drawing inspiration from my late father-in-law [Dusty Rhodes] with the Bionic Elbow, I call it the Bionic Spear.

MCN: Is it fair to your opponents that you have metal in your shoulder?
Was it fair for me to have to endure the surgery? No, but I’m tough as nails, so I’ll keep that in my shoulder. People can get better or get pinned.