Prior to making his AEW in-ring debut on the March 3rd episode of Dynamite, Shaquille O’Neal promised to deliver the greatest celebrity match of all time. Whether the match did or didn’t hit those heights is open to debate but Cody Rhodes is unequivocal, “Shaq has the bug.”
Reflecting on the match with Action Sports Jax, the AEW Executive Vice President said that he had assumed a lot of responsibility with the match, but it is surprised when people doubt him.
“I know people were skeptical, and I understand why. I’m part of the hardcore audience and love pure wrestling, but I love doing things that have a hook to them and a sizzle to them that help drive pure wrestling. The same show Shaq was on, also featured Tully Blanchard. I’m surprised when people doubt me. I don’t mean to sound braggadocious, but I don’t go into anything without a game plan and being extremely organized. I assumed a lot of responsibility with a new talent in Jade, an untested talent in Red Velvet, and Shaq, who is not a wrestler.”
The American Nightmare went on to add that he told Shaq that he now sees him as a wrestler and reiterated how serious the former NBA All-Star had taken his training.
“After it was over, I can tell you, [Shaq] has the bug. The one thing I did tell him, and we didn’t talk much, but I told him, ‘I think you’re a wrestler now.’ I meant that. There are matches people want to see, he took training very seriously, he brings eyes to our product and perhaps those eyes stay and watch the pure wrestling,”
During the conversation Rhodes also addressed rumours that NXT may be moving from it’s current Wednesday night TV slot. The former TNT Champion said that while a move wouldn’t change anything for AEW, he felt that AEW had “destroyed them [NXT] for over a year.”
The team of Shaq and Jade Cargill claimed victory against Rhodes and Red Velvet on Dynamite, but the major talking point from the match was Rhodes driving Shaq through two tables.
Shaq would leave the ring on a stretcher, but after being placed in an ambulance the 7 ft, 1 in former guard disappeared. It is currently unknown whether Shaq is due to make anymore appearances with AEW.
H/t to Fightful for the transcription.