Cody Rhodes sat down with Sports Illustrated this week to discuss the possibility of Zack Ryder and other performers joining AEW. The executive vice president remained tight-lipped about his recruitment plans, but he didn’t close the door on the possibility of the recently released WWE star joining the company either.
“We need to always be aware of the world around us. One of the charming things about what we’ve been doing is we’ve been real and we’ve been transparent. Wrestling exists outside of AEW, we are aware of that. We try to be the best wrestling, and I really think we are, but there is great wrestling outside of us, too. It’s important for us to acknowledge that.”
Rhodes went on to say that the promotion plans on bringing more free agents into the fold to challenge for his TNT Championship. He has been giving opportunities to independent wrestlers in recent weeks and he intends to keep that trend going for the foreseeable future.
The executive also revealed that the championship bouts might primarily revolve around unsigned opponents on the upcoming episodes of Dynamite. This element of the matches has brought more excitement and unpredictability to the shows and Rhodes seems keen on maintaining that momentum.
“When we say it’s an open challenge, I think you’ll see in the next few weeks that we mean open.”
Rhodes also teased the arrival of performers who weren’t fired from Vince McMahon’s company in recent months. Other names who were brought up — but not confirmed by Rhodes — included Fred Yehi and Warhorse. All of his previous opponents who aren’t roster members came from the independent scene, and some — such as Ricky Starks — were given full-time contracts afterward.
The Ryder acquisition has been rumored for months, as he and Rhodes are known to be good friends outside of the ring. When the former WWE superstar was let go by his old promotion, Rhodes even took to social media to pay tribute to the former Intercontentinal Champion. This fueled rumors of Ryder eventually joining AEW.
During the interview, Rhodes also expressed his interest in bringing Rey Mysterio to his brand. The veteran performer is technically a free agent at the moment, but he’s expected to re-sign with WWE as soon as his contract situation is handled.
According to Rhodes, both he and Chris Jericho believe that Mysterio is the best wrestler in the world. He also credited the luchador for being a mentor to him during his rookie years.