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By Mike Johnson on 2020-07-21 23:24:00

Mike Johnson: One of the things that the TNT Championship has also provided opportunities for is to allow talents to get a little bit of the spotlight on them. This past week at Fight for the Fallen, Sonny Kiss had the biggest opportunity thus far in her career. Reflections on that match and what you think that match meant to Sonny and her run in AEW thus far. 

Cody: So Sonny, the match we had, the day, as the day went by it dawned on me a little bit more, the severity of what it meant to have this fluid gender and open homosexual to have himself/herself challenging for the TNT Title. To me, Sonny is an outstanding athlete that has an incredibly different approach, presentation-wise, and a different type of charisma, the only like, reference-able charisma that I can think of what Sonny does is almost like Gorgeous George from the radio days, and just the overall pomp and circumstance of the presentation Sonny has, but that day as the day went on, it became more clear to me that this meant a lot to more people than just wrestling fans and I, you know, forgive me for being naive to that, I want to, I want to love and respect everyone on our roster, so it was a great learning experience for me and Aubrey Edwards was the one who kinda brought it in for me, brought it home in terms of how important it was, I'm almost tearing up as I say this, but it was, she said to me in the hallway, this is a big deal to a lot of people and I, I just, you know, you know I've been to the end zone before and I gave her the like, nod and I turned around and I went back and I gave her one of the longest hugs I think I've ever given anyone because I got it, and I could feel us in. So with that in mind, I want to make sure that, that I'm responsible to that, you know not only did she tell me that's important and that's a big deal, now I have to be responsible for that. Sonny doesn't have over 10 years of experience like I have, I've worked with some of the greatest wrestlers of all time, and if I don't take that experience in the ring and the match sucks, it's not Sonny's fault, it's my fault. So with that in mind, I really..I was really proud we were able to carry it the way we did. There were some things I thought we could do better, but they were things that I could do better, and I was proud of Sonny, I was proud of Aubrey, I was proud of TNT, very proud of AEW, we're moving forward on what does life look like really in 2020-2021 and beyond, it's represented on AEW and doing it in a way that's not just hey we check the box, here's a big PR press campaign, instead doing it in a real functional way made me proud.

Mike Johnson: And you know, watching that match the one thing that struck me was, you know, you can say it's important to have that representation, like you said you can check off the box, but here it was within the confines of AEW storylines, it wasn't forced into a situation, it wasn't being done to grab attention or grab headlines for clicks, it was just 'this person deserves the spotlight, we're going to give it to them and they just happen to represent this subset of our audience', and it felt as fluid and as natural as anything ever has on AEW, but yet it still was an important moment, not just for her but for everyone that she might represent as a gender fluid person...and like, I was excited for the match going in and I felt like it delivered and I felt like it just opens the door for more for Sonny Kiss which is all anyone can hope for, for any wrestler, is that they take their opportunity and it makes them stronger down the line.

With that said, you know, you talked about the functionality and representation, what do you think are the biggest lessons that you've learned over the course of building AEW, because for everything that we see on television, AEW's also building their own culture behind the scenes and they're building a culture that's unique and original for a national wrestling company, which we haven't seen in either of our lifetimes. The pro wrestling that we all watched on national TV pretty much existed on national TV before you and I were born, like the NWA, WWF, they preceded us, but AEW we get to watch you build it and the team build it from infancy, so what's been the biggest life lessons for you building that culture?

Cody: Probably the largest lesson that I've personally, kind of taken in is that we don't have our identity just yet, and that's a really wonderful thing. It's going to take time. And if you look at the campaign and the build to AEW, you look at some of the things that I said, and then you look at the product, there's areas where we've done other things, there's areas where we've veered from the path and then back into the path, we're kind of putting our toes in multiple bodies of water and that I think is a really beautiful thing. I think that's why it's so cool to be a fan now, to jump in now with AEW, because we're slowly forming that identity as who we are as a brand and much quicker than you would have thought, you know Fyter is already an established brand for example, Fight for the Fallen, which I do have to mention I was so keen on the idea that it remain charitable and Tony and his family, you know, quietly donating over a million dollars to North Florida Covid relief and that shirt, which you can still get now, that shirt on, Fight for the Fallen shirt, still making money for the said charities Tony's supporting, they're all to combat the pandemic, but with us the biggest lesson is that we haven't found our identity yet and for me personally, um, I just, I'm a hot headed and red blooded individual, and that doesn't work in management anymore, and I really never brought it to the table in AEW but we have a very kind of loosey-goosey, we have 18 good cops and maybe only 2 bad cops when it comes to, you know, disciplinarians and absorbing that role of being the one who has a little structure, absorbing that role I am OK with, it doesn't make you friends with everybody in the locker room, and I am OK with that because more than friends with everybody in the locker room I want to make sure that we have a product that's on TV and on TNT for years and years to come, so that's just been an area where it's been an adjustment. I always was friends with all the boys, and I was one of the boys, and I''re really, the day this place started that wasn't the case anymore just because I'm in a different position and I want to do that position honestly and respectfully, but that's been a big adjustment for somebody who's always in the locker room and one of the guys, to the next, you know, two degree being their boss, it's been a big adjustment and I hope I'm up for the challenge but uh, you know that's just me personally, I know Matt, Nick and Kenny, everybody's had something else that they've learned and again we've had Tony right there. Anybody who sits down with Tony for more than 5 minutes, all of a sudden he brings you in, he's so charming, he knows so much about the history of wrestling and right now, whether people know it or not, we are relying a lot on the history of wrestling, the really good stuff, the magic, the 'what's old is new' that's back there for us to uh, kind of take and shape to our own brand and our own product. 

Mike Johnson: You know, the Elite in general were sort of like the Rage Against the Machine. It started out as this thing as part of Bullet Club, and then there was the offshoot, it was its own existing group. Now that those who raged against the machine are the machine for AEW, how has the relationships amongst everybody changed? Like you talked earlier about the different styles that they all bring to the table, how has the personal relationships and the professional relationships changed for all of you as you've gone through this unique life experience of running AEW with Tony Khan?Cody: I think in a way and a lot of people will be like "No way, he's lying", I think in a way it's actually made us stronger, but we don't spend near as much time as we used to together. Everyone is so busy, Kenny is working from the time he gets there, Matt, Nick uh are always up to something in terms of the BTE is such an important brand to them, and it's an important brand to AEW, um, and then I'm always up to something. We literally have you know, a couple of rooms in the hallway where management is all and they're basically different offices, and sometimes you think there might be a lot of goofing on in there but it's not, it's literally from 1 segment to the next, from 1 talent to the next, so I think in a way years from now we'll look at it and say it made us stronger, you know, I do miss some of the fun we had when we didn't have as many cares in the world, believe me. I'm never on BTE anymore, BTE has become a spotlight for younger guys and girls and I totally get that, but uh, I have nothing but respect and love for Matt, Nick and Kenny and if you ever hear about any in-fighting or any things of that nature, sure, I'm sure there's arguments and I'm sure there's differences of opinion but we have never gone into a show where we weren't all on the same page, very professional, those guys all put the professional in professional wrestler and uh, you know, we don't spend near as much time together anymore but we have this show with our faces on it and I know we want to make it the best.

Interview concludes on Page 3!

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