Ahead of tonight’s tag-team match against Shaquille O’Neal, AEW’s Cody Rhodes talks EXCLUSIVELY with HL about his experience facing men of that ‘stature,’ his excitement at becoming a dad, Maki Itoh, and more.
“I am beyond tickled and curious to see Shaq,” says Cody Rhodes while speaking EXCLUSIVELY with HollywoodLife. With that one line, the All Elite Wrestling star summed up the mood of the pro-wrestling world ahead of the March 3 episode of AEW’s Dynamite. For the second time in history, Shaquille O’Neal will step inside a wrestling ring, teaming up with Jade Cargill to take on Cody and Red Velvet in a mixed tag-team match. Shaq’s run in professional wrestling has long been rumored, and Cody sees great potential in his opponent. “The guy has all the athletic credentials in the world,” he says, “plus the genetic gifts to be an athletic giant.”
Though Shaq is a foot taller than Cody (7’1” to Cody’s 6’1”) and outweighs “The American Nightmare” by 100 pounds, Cody isn’t intimidated. In fact, he has experience facing “giants” of the squared circle. Cody spoke with HollywoodLife before AEW announced the signing of Paul Wight, formerly known as WWE’s “The Big Show,” and Rhodes may have slyly hinted as to his strategy for when he goes toe-to-toe with Shaq. “And I have only been in the ring with one guy of that stature, and he beat me pretty handily,” said Cody, hinting at his WrestleMania 28 loss against Wight. Nearly a decade after that 2012 clash – and years after the rumored Big Show-Shaq match — Cody tells HL that he “looks forward to [showing] the very different me [at this] phase in my career.”
Shaq and Cody won’t be the only ones in the ring for the match.