Ten, even five years ago professional wrestlers making viable money outside of the big corporate WWE machine was unheard of. Fast forward to today and you can’t go anywhere without seeing the skull and guns logo of Bullet Club on T-shirts everywhere. Wrestling’s once-secret faction has carved out a place in pop culture that’s revolutionized the way we look at that industry. Now, Matt and Nick Jackson (The Young Bucks) and, the son of wrestling legend Dusty Rhodes, “The American Nightmare” Cody, are ready to reward the fans and food chains that have supported them on this journey by putting on independent wrestling’s biggest show. The Woodstock of wrestling takes place in Chicago (Hoffman Estates,IL to be exact) on September 1st at the Sears Centre Arena, it’s ALL IN.
In his first ever singles match, the Arrow himself Stephen Amell takes on Christopher Daniels. That’s just one of the draws in a card loaded with incredible names like Rey Mysterio, Tessa Blanchard, and our best wrestler in the world today, Kenny Omega.
You can’t buy tickets to ALL IN as the event sold out more than 10,000 tickets within 30 minutes of going on sale, but it will be broadcast on the Fite TV app and PPV, the show is even doing a special ALL IN: Zero Hour broadcast on WGN America which will be the first hour of ALL IN. This week we got to talk with CODY about what ALL IN means to the wrestling industry and his own future.
THE BEAT: I’ve been following the story of ALL IN from when it was just a bet on Twitter following a statement from wrestling authority Dave Meltzer, to watching you and the Being The Elite cast looking at arenas, to a record on-sale. Has what ALL IN’s meaning to the industry changed in that time?
CODY: Of course, in the beginning, All In was almost like… it was a gamble. There was the roll of the dice involving a lot of money between us. It became, hey we need this for insurances and this for deposits, which is a so very scary endeavor. And then you know 29 minutes after tickets went on sale, it’s totally sold out. After the big sigh of relief, it’s a different type of All In. Now it’s about every match, every person, who walks out there to go All In on yourself, go All In for these fans. If we only ever do this once, make this a footnote in wrestling history.
THE BEAT: When you say “only ever do this once”, I know it might be early but has the group thrown around the idea of ALL IN 2 yet?
CODY: Well I mean this crew is together a lot. One day we’re all in Japan and the next day its here and when I say crew I mean more than just me and the Bucks, you know it includes Marty [Scurll], Hangman [Page], and Kenny Omega. They’re all very much factored into everything that’s happening. I think we’ve pushed off all pre-planning and speculation to September 2nd. Because it’s pretty common knowledge our contracts [with Ring of Honor] are coming up. They all end on the same day…shockingly.
I mean what do we do? We have such great things in place already. Matt, Nick, Marty, Hangman, we’ve had such a great time in Ring of Honor and they’ve been such a great partner, on this project alone, by allowing us to breach our contract to do this.
None of us wanted to come at this from a place of anxiety. Instead, we wanted to look at what we’ve done and ask, “okay now what can we do?”. I think September 2nd is going to be an interesting day, for sure.
THE BEAT: Another thing that’s interesting to me is the free part of the show on WGN America. ALL IN: Zero Hour. You’d previously talked about how the group didn’t want to use sponsorship money and doing this all on your own. Why broadcast on WGN any part of this show that obviously fans are willing to shell out money for?
CODY: Well [laughs] because we already have the part they paid for. It came later in the game, WGN America had actually approached us about the entire show and that was a great thing except it would have to be a little bit more streamlined for television. As important as matches are to me and seeing them get proper time like you see in New Japan, we couldn’t do commercials and make it two hours. So that idea went away and then it became the idea of doing a pre-show. We sort of said, “well let’s not do that, but instead give them two really good matches featuring from the All In crew. Let’s make it something special.”
It became an opportunity to add one more feather in our cap, so to speak. Wrestling was going to be back on a major network and it wasn’t going to be WWE…or even any one company. It’s just three dudes and their idea.
Growing up, my dad [Dusty Rhodes] put Jim Crockett’s promotion on Turner at 6:05 [PM] and what Vince did with USA [network], then the wars. I couldn’t turn down the chance at putting our show on a network.
THE BEAT: Talking about you the performer. Since you left WWE, you’ve put together an amazing body of work from wrestling Okada in Long Beach for the IWGP Heavyweight title to your run as the Ring of Honor champion, to the Bullet Club civil war. This is everything wrestling fans knew you were capable of but we didn’t get to see. How would you say you’ve grown as an in-ring storyteller from the “Dashing” days to now as “The American Nightmare”?
CODY: I always tell people I’m a slow learner. You see a lot of fast learners in wrestling today, especially in NXT. It’s taken the best independent wrestlers and polished them, then bam their brand is ready to roll. In 2007 when I started I wasn’t even close to being polished. I was very much trial by fire between various characters and different styles of wrestling.
Then when I left, they became different types of matches with different things being asked of me as an athlete. So I’m really excited for this show. For those who just follow social media and hear about Cody doing well, this is the chance for them to see what I am now. This is the most I’ve ever been polished and as close to the vision I had of myself when I was a kid who said I wanted to be a pro wrestler.
Being able to have the match at All In involving the NWA World Championship, what Nick Aldis has done to breathe life into that title which was gone from our eyes. It shows how different this event is. WWE is wonderful but they don’t own pro-wrestling. The pro-wrestling ethos is still very much its own entity and this is our take on it.
THE BEAT: I know you’ve talked about your contracts but have you personally given thought to what your post All In future is going to be?
CODY: Yeah I think I’m just going to retire… or die.
No. Of course, it’s hard not to think about any of it and it’s tough to be honest with yourself. Right now I’m in such a rare moment. When I was younger, not even younger, just my last two years in WWE; I wanted all the calls, I wanted all the interest and I wasn’t getting it. Now, when it comes, it feels different and the world is different. I know it sounds dramatic but wrestling is my world.
But I want to come at it from that point of no anxiety, no pressure. That’s why September 2nd… one powerful thing about this Being The Elite group is we’re all going to stick together. We all kind of verbally committed to each other that we’re going to do this next step together. Who knows what that next step is? I’m sure we’ll have a heated discussion. That’s what makes it special; I’ve made friends in a business that’s pretty friendless, we’ve made some good money together. We get to play our music the way we want to play it. You know, why would I want to stop that but at the same time there’s a lot out there. I think everyone is going to be blown away in 2019.
THE BEAT: There’s been some cheekyness on Being The Elite, in a card full of main event caliber matches everyone seems nervous about being the main event. So can you tell us who will be closing the show?
CODY: The main event will be the six-man; Rey Mysterio, Bandito, and Fenix against The Golden Elite (Young Bucks & Kota Ibushi). At one point it was going to be Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon, but what you see on Being The Elite is true, as silly as it may seem.
Asking Kenny to do the main event was a lot after the G1 tournament [New Japan Pro Wrestling]. But I think you have the spirit of the event in the souls of Matt and Nick. Then there’s Rey who was the guy who gave me my first WrestleMania, my first break, so there’s a special nod there. Also, I just want to see what they can do in the ring together. As a fan, I’m excited for that.
I say that’s what the main event is now, but things could always change and the main event could end up being Burnard The Business Bear vs. Bury The Drug Free Bear.
THE BEAT: You know we’d all pop for that in the Sears Centre Arena.
CODY: Burnard’s super over. I don’t even get it. But it makes my day.
THE BEAT: Just real quick before we let you go. You’ll be back as Derek Sampson on Arrow this season for a longer run. Are you still filming that or have you wrapped your episodes?
CODY: No, I have two more episodes to go back and do after All In. Which is nice because I was afraid I’d be running all the way up to All In. I don’t know if you’ve seen the trailer but I’m going from a villain of the week to being around a group of villains of the week. Being around guys like Vinnie Jones is such a great learning experience for me.
It’s nice to come out of my bubble every now and then, otherwise, this world revolves around the square circle. If you’re an entertainer you should really look at it all.
THE BEAT: That’s awesome, I can’t wait to see the episodes.
I hear Stephen Amell in his first singles match at ALL IN versus Christopher Daniels is gonna steal the show.
Before Cody goes from American Nightmare back to Arrowverse baddie, we get to go ALL IN on Saturday, September 1st. Tickets and just about every flight to Chicago is sold out, so the best way to catch a history-making moment for the business that we love is to catch ALL IN on PPV [check with your provider], Ring of Honor- Honor Club, and the FITE TV app on Roku and other streaming devices. The first hour of ALL IN will be on WGN America as the network exclusively broadcasts ALL IN: Zero Hour.