Since leaving WWE in 2016, the former Cody Rhodes has not been shy about expressing his opinion – positive or negative – about his ex-employers. He recently took part in a media conference call for AXS TV to promote the upcoming NJPW G1 Special from San Francisco, where he had some interesting comments about WWE and the state of the wrestling industry.
On the differences between the WWE locker room and the NJPW locker room:
“There’s a huge difference in the locker room philosophies between WWE and New Japan Pro-Wrestling. I can tell you, it’s not a knock on WWE, New Japan Pro-Wrestling understands much more how to do their locker room. The individual factions are separated. Chaos has their own locker room. Bullet Club has their own locker room. But there are no outsiders, no celebrities, they can be somewhere else, but they can’t be in the locker room. It’s a real traditional space. You ride on a bus with your crew and no other crew. You don’t stay at the same hotel. It’s a real traditional space. And it’s something just as an old school wrestling fan, I really value when I go. But I think they have the locker room. I think that’s the philosophy in the locker room as far as company goes, it’s much different.”
On the recent New Day vs. Golden Elite showdown at E3 that was given plenty of coverage by WWE:
“I thought that was really, I hate using this expression, but good for business. That’s something that The New Day, and The Elite, I guess now, The Golden Elite, that cross-promotional element is something that they wanted to do for a long time and [WWE] can’t pretend that people don’t exist anymore. Kenny Omega is a revered star worldwide. He’s the new IWGP Heavyweight Champion and I think it was good for business. I had a nice little banter back-and-forth with some of my friends from the WWE locker room, but I kept saying, ‘hey, you guys are welcome for the rub.’ And then, they kept saying pretty much the same thing back to me. But yeah, no, I’m glad The Elite won regardless of whether Kenny’s my best friend or if I could [not] care less about him. But The Elite, in this case Kenny, defeated Xavier Woods and they put that one to rest. But who knows? I think The New Day/Golden Elite rivalry might just be getting started.”
On the likelihood of further cross promotion between WWE and NJPW:
“That’s tough to say because wrestling is definitely changing. I mean, it’s already changed. It’s not just changing. It’s already changed. And you can’t hide anymore and exclusivity is starting to seem less and less important. But I think the most important thing, as cliche as it may sound as fans, and their continued support and their continued interest in what we do, and if it’s in the best interest of the fans, then I could see perhaps more.
I know Triple H wanted to make that. He wanted to bridge between NXT and New Japan around the time he used the legendary Jushin Liger when Liger wrestled Tyler Breeze and I know that was the first step, but I think that more steps need to be made. And I think it’s silly when they’re not. If anything, I’m glad we’re back to this New Day/Elite thing. I’m glad it happened because I’m sure there was some idiot, some just… moron.. in Stamford on that fourth floor who was thinking, ‘oh no! They’re going to make our guys look bad, blah, blah, blah.’ And no! It’s for the fans! And you have to go with that always. And I could see, because, like I said, wrestling [has] changed, I could see more happening.”
“I don’t consider this an era of competition as much as it an era of choice. Competition, look where it got us. We ran WCW out of business. We destroyed an entire region of the US as far as their love of professional wrestling. And WWE has had to rebuild it. I’m from Georgia. I felt the fallout of a company losing in a competition before, so I don’t think it’s about competition anymore. I think it’s about choice.”
On WWE scripting it’s performers and the role of writers and producers:
“I don’t look at it as being in control of my creative, I literally look at it as just knowing myself. I guess knowing my act, knowing what I would do, and what I wouldn’t do, and going out there and trying it out. The fans will tell you if you got it right or if you got it wrong. I think that’s one of the most backwards ass things about wrestling in the first place is writers. What are you writing? What on Earth are you writing? I have some friends who are writers at WWE and the most thing they could ever offer was, as far as pre-tapes and backstage interviews, they were there to provide a little bit of direction, a little coaching. But they were there to look at the shot.
In that vein, they were very valuable, so I see the importance there. But as far as this industry, if people ever say that it’s scripted, I dare you to find me a wrestling script. It doesn’t exist. We’re a rare thing, a rare bird in the world of entertainment, an important bird. Same with producers! I love all those legends. I love them to death. Some of them are like family to me, but how the hell are you going to tell me what to do out there? You don’t! And that was my biggest mistake with WWE is ever listening. There’s a difference between collaboration, and advice, and being told to do this because that’s not how it works. You go out there and you’re the one on TV. You’re the one who gets heat if you suck”
Thanks to Wrestling Inc. for the interview transcription
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