AEW Chief Brand Officer Brandi Rhodes wears a lot of hats. In addition to being an executive at a wrestling company that’s competing with the industry’s juggernaut every Wednesday night, she’s also an on-air talent, participant in the new women’s tag team tournament “The Deadly Draw” and she just launched AEW Heels; a new female-focused fan club.
In a recent interview with TV Insider Rhodes discussed the events surrounding the deactivation of her Twitter account, the launch of AEW Heels, her responsibilities as Chief Brand Officer, as well as the creation of the Women’s Tag Team Cup Tournament, The Deadly Draw, and her participation in in-ring events.
On her abrupt exit from Twitter last week following a massive amount of negative social media backlash after the announcement of AEW Heels, Rhodes had this to say.
“I just think that right now there are other things that need my attention a lot more,” said Rhodes. “I’m focusing on ‘Heels,’ which Friday we had our first members based event. It was extremely successful. It’s nice to come together in a community of women that really appreciated it and enjoyed it. We had a really great time on Friday night. It was nice to put my energy into that. My energy is also going into the Women’s Tag Team Cup Tournament. It has been a really nice weekend to put all my time and energy into what I want to be focusing on right now.”
AEW has a newly announced and ongoing women’s tag team tournament, The Deadly Draw. AEW’s Chief Brand Officer opened up about how long she’s wanted this to come to fruition.
“It has been a really fun labor of love coming together with the tournament,” continued Rhodes. “This is something I thought about months back. It was a good idea, but we wanted to wait until it was the right time.I saw a lot of the ladies we were bringing in for AEW Dark were really talented. They were having their time to shine. I saw a lot of independent women who weren’t doing much because of the pandemic and knowing they were dying to get back out there and start building their brands again and seeing the wrestling world again. I thought it was a good opportunity to bring these women together along with the AEW women.”
“We wanted to see what could happen from that. What did happen was a really fun tournament. From seeing the first screener, I was blown away by how much attention to detail we have from production, all the mutual character pieces, the draws we’ve been dropping through social media. All of those details, I was in on every single one of them, but you are still surprised when you do see the final result and it’s better than you expected with your expectations already being pretty high. I’ve been happy with it, and the women involved have been happy with it. It’s something we worked towards and feel really good about.”
Despite the massive fan engagement and excitement around the women’s tag tournament, a lot of folks have continually asked why it’s being aired on YouTube and not Dynamite.
“With YouTube, it’s its own show,” said Rhodes. “That means we are trusted enough to carry our own show and don’t have to be compared to men. We were also not restricted on time. So it’s really the dream scenario. Better than finding out when we are live and something went long, you may only have four minutes to put it out there. That’s really hard, especially when you are trying to introduce new women and put that kind of pressure on them. Being it’s our own show without the restraints and to be able to tell these stories how we want to is a really great situation.”
Rhodes on whether or not fans can expect this tournament to foreshadow the launch of a women’s tag division.
“The tournament has been really well-received,” responded Rhodes. “When I last checked the first episode surpassed 500,000 views on YouTube, which is kind where people start paying attention and say, ‘This is really cool.’ On a success level, I think we’re doing well. I think it opens the door to possibilities for more. As far as the when, where and why, that isn’t something we’re not in any rush to do because we’re very new. To be able to do something like this and be successful this early is a really good sign.”
The social media reaction to Heels was a bit over-the-top. There was a lot of positivity and unfortunately a lot of negativity as well. We all know wrestling fans aren’t shy and Rhodes is clearly aware of that as well. Here’s what she had to say on whether or not fan feedback impacts her plans for the platform.
“I think the word of mouth on ‘Heels’ is going to be the best thing for it,” said Rhodes. “After the event on Friday the word about it was positive. There was not a single person of the two hundred and change people who showed up that said I did not get what I expected or asked for…We want to keep the women excited and looking forward to different things. The plans are very much laid out for ‘Heels.’ We’ve got a course of action for an entire year here. That course of action can change a little bit as the conditions of the world improves, but I think for now we’ve got plenty of events and virtual meet-and-greets and contests and cool things for these women. Not just monthly, but weekly…It’s a cool thing to talk to each other and motivate each other and share their slices of life and just have fun, which is so much of what is missing in life. These are trying times with current events. If ‘Heels’ can be the bright light at the end of the tunnel for them, we’re happy to do whatever it takes to make it that.”
“Another thing for people to know out of the gate is that ‘Heels’ is not ever going to be something I look to as a super profitable thing. It’s not intended to be. It’s intended to be something they can count on and grow with and learn with and get something out of. In order to run a multi-faceted platform like that, it costs money. It’s not cheap by any means. This is not going to be a huge cash grab for AEW. But it’s something fans will love and appreciate, so it’s worth all the work and effort. Not everything is about a dollar. Some things are about what’s right.”
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