AEW's Cody Rhodes talks about upcoming match against Shaq on AEW Dynamite

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Craig Carton is not a wrestling guy – despite that whole “could’ve been ECW’s Joey Styles” deal – but he goes way back with All Elite Wrestling’s Cody Rhodes, from a barnstorming tour they did years ago for troops.

Cody, the son of the legendary “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, was a founder and is an EVP for upstart AEW, and has had a heck of an in-ring career himself – and his next bout is a big one: on Wednesday, on AEW’s flagship show “Dynamite” (8 p.m. on TNT), it’ll be a mixed tag team match featuring Cody and Red Velvet against Jade Cargill and another guy you may have heard of: Shaquille O’Neal.

That’s right, the Big Aristotle is about to become the Big Wrestler, and while Shaq has dabbled in the waters in the past – he appeared in WWE’s annual Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania in 2016 – that was five years ago, and Cody isn’t fazed.

“I think judging from his Instagram as of late, he’s got a lot of show muscles,” Cody said, “I think he’s in great shape from a vanity aesthetic, but when it comes to go muscles, I don’t think he has anything in the tank. I don’t think he’s as nimble as he was, but he’s a guy who can rise to the occasion.”

It’s almost literally David vs. Goliath – Cody is roughly 6-foot-1, 220 pounds while Shaq is 7-foot-2 and 350 on a light day – but “The American Nightmare” has a plan.

“This is Johnny Cage vs Goro – stick and move, I can’t let him get his hands on me and get that big bearhug on me,” Cody said. “The same goes for Jade; she has a strength and size advantage over Red Velvet, but she’s the meanest thing in our locker room. If you’re not familiar with her, she will impress a lot.”

That’s something Cody knows a lot about, because as a second-generation wrestler – and offspring of one of the greatest of all-time, to boot – you have to make an impression to override any impressions of you.

Thankfully, Cody says, Dusty let him be his own man, and not “Dusty’s son.”

“For me, I almost consider myself a third-generation because (older brother) Dustin is so much older, but the door is really open when you’re a second-generation wrestler,” he said, “but it becomes incredibly difficult because the bar is set so high. A lot of people have Dusty on their wrestling Mt. Rushmore, especially when they see how much he did behind the scenes too, but for me, the best thing he did in regards to my career was he took a backseat. He was seeding me with the psychology stuff since I was a little kid, and he was always my No. 1 fan, but he got off the WWE writing team, and we never crossed paths on the road. He let others train me and let me make my mistakes. When I’m in that ring, I always feel him.”

Unfortunately, though, Cody can’t challenge for the AEW Title because of a stipulation enforced after he lost a match to Chris Jericho in 2019…but he can challenge for AEW’s TNT Title, and he’ll get a future shot if he wins a six-way Ladder Match on Sunday’s AEW “Full Gear” pay-per-view.

“I’m going to stick to my word on the AEW Title, but ultimately, that decision will rest on AEW owner Tony Khan. It’s the easiest heel turn in wrestling if I was to break it,” Cody laughed. “I love that we’re disciplined and conservative, and presenting wrestling backwards.”

Perhaps Cody could be the TNT Champion if and when AEW reschedules last spring’s planned event at Newark’s Prudential Center, which was postponed due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic – but one thing is for sure: that event will happen, and the Carton & Roberts crew will be there.

“I think we had sold 14,000 tickets – that show is the No. 1 on our radar, no disrespect to any other market, but we had big plans,” Cody said. “I have a feeling that when the fog of the pandemic is lifted, the first place we’re going to is Prudential Center. If you guys had tickets, you guys will have tickets, and if you can’t get them, please reach out, it’s on me!”

Check out Cody Rhodes’ full appearance on Carton & Roberts below!

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