In a recent interview with ESPN, AEW Executive Vice President and TNT Champion Cody Rhodes spoke on a number of subjects, including the possibility of AEW signing wrestlers on the market who are currently in free agency. On the list of talent spoken of was current WWE on-air talent and free agent Rey Mysterio, WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle, former WWE wrestlers Zack Ryder and Rusev, and ex-Impact wrestler Tessa Blanchard.
Rey Mysterio’s future with WWE is currently up in the air. At WWE’s recent Extreme Rules the Horror Show pay-per-view the legendary luchador lost his eye-for-an-eye match against the Monday Night Messiah Seth Rollins, and in the process, well, an eye. There’s been a lot of talk around whether or not WWE will be able to convince Mysterio to resign and if not, where he will end up, with AEW being a popular guess.
Cody Rhodes had this to say on how aggressively AEW would pursue Rey Mysterio if he were to open himself to outside offers:
To me, the greatest luchador ever, of all time — hands down — is Rey Mysterio Jr. And he’s got friends here. Jericho and him are friends. Mysterio is not afraid to travel out there, either. He’s not a one-company individual. And I think Rey still has a lot left to give in terms of wrestling. That might be something that someone else is currently discussing with him at this point. You never know.
Kurt Angle is an Impact/TNA legend, with a storied history in the company following his run in WWE. Speaking of WWE, Angle also happens to be a WWE Hall of Famer and gold medalist (with a broken freaking neck). The amount of accolades Angle has in WWE are too numerous to list here. So suffice to say, the man is a wrestling legend and any company would be happy to have him. But what about AEW?
Kurt is amazing. I had three matches with Kurt when I left WWE. That’s a very special wrestler. I’m not sure if he wants to keep doing it, though. I look at someone like that and I look at what is their interest like beyond just being a wrestler. When you’re multifaceted like that and you have an Olympic background, I would just be curious as to where his passion levels lie beyond in ring.
For a brief period of time Tessa Blanchard was on top of the world. She broke down the barriers between the men’s and women’s divisions and became the first ever female Impact World Champion in the history of the company by defeating Sami Callihan at the Hard to Kill pay-per-view. Unfortunately her victory was tainted when a number of female wrestlers came forward claiming that Blanchard is a locker room bully, and even allegedly hurled racial slurs toward wrestlers of color.
Things got even worse for Blanchard when Impact Wrestling fired her and stripped her of the Impact World Championship, claiming that she was holding the title hostage, refused to return to the states from Mexico, and refused to tape promos for them. Since being fired from Impact everyone’s been wondering where Blanchard will end up. There’s zero question that she’s one of the most talented wrestlers on the planet, be it man or woman, but who wants to tackle her host of problems? Perhaps AEW?
I don’t know a lot about the current situation with her and Impact. Tully, her father, is in AEW. That’s more Kenny Omega, [my wife and AEW chief brand officer] Brandi [Rhodes] and Tony carving out the growing and evolving women’s division. They’d have more of a beat on that. She was part of All In for us. And anyone who was part of All In has a place in my heart. On a personal level, I always want all the second- and third-generation wrestlers to have the best experience. She has a lot, a lot of talent. I’m sure it’s something Kenny, Brandi and Tony have discussed.
WWE fired and furloughed a lot of their employees when COVID really started to impact business and sports in the United States. Included in that list of employees are a lot of talented wrestlers. Cody spoke on who he’d sign if he had his pick of the bunch.
I think there are two free agents that are on a lot of people’s radar, that being Miro — formerly Rusev — and Matt Cardona, who was Zack Ryder. Obviously, those free agents should be on any radar. They have literally drawn money. They have TV experience. They have high-profile experience. They have locker room experience. The pros heavily outweigh the cons.
Those are two great free agents. I’m not going to go as far to say that if I had to sign anybody, those would be the two that I would sign. But I think they’re great free agents. I think if they have the passion for pro wrestling, they’re going to continue to succeed.
Here’s the trick. We only have a two-hour show. And a lot of our roster hasn’t even been fully realized or seen yet. I want to make sure we honor individuals like that. If you bring in a hot free agent, that means someone is going to lose a spot. That’s just the reality of it. In my capitalistic, cold nature that I have, I actually don’t mind that, because that makes everybody else step their game up. But you do want to do it fairly and responsibly. The best wrestlers, no matter where they came from, you’re going to want on your show.
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