On March 3rd 2021 Shaquille O’Neal will compete in an AEW ring for the first time when he joins forces with Jade Cargill to take on the team of Cody Rhodes and Red Velvet. Shaq, who despite having a long history with the world of professional wrestling has only ever appeared as a combatant on one other occasion.
The seeds were sown for the showdown back in August 2020, with Shaq taking to Twitter to address the American Nightmare, before Cargill teased the former NBA star’s arrival in November. Tensions have continued to rise in the intervening months as the highly anticipated match moved ever closer.
Now, in conversation with Joseph Staszewski of the New York Post, Cody has lifted the lid on Shaq’s preparations, as he readies himself for his AEW in-ring debut. The former TNT Champion has revealed that Shaq has been training alongside QT Marshall amongst others, and that he personally has had very little interaction with the former NBA MVP.
“I don’t have a lot of interaction with him. I know when he trains it’s very long. They put in over two hours. They go from the weight room to the ring and two to three of our better guys bump around, training themselves and want to be there. They’re there almost all night. I’ve never trained with him. He’s very much been trained by QT. They train pretty regularly and I’m excited.
When you’re of that size. If you were coming in, not Shaq, if you were that big I would want you to train and learn to do as much as you can but most wrestling promoters and bookers and companies aren’t going to have you do as much. There is very much a less-is-more guideline for a legitimate giant. Not many come into wrestling anymore.”
Rhodes went on to praise WWE Superstar the Big Show, commenting that he has been trying to find similarities between his former adversary and his new challenger.
“The only thing I’ve been thinking of in my mind is I wrestled Big Show so many times. He was just one of the most valuable teachers to me. He was everything. He was a genuine adversary when it came to how he handled going to WrestleMania. He was my first taste of good politics, bad politics, and he was an angel in the ring to wrestle with. It gave me some absolute valuable lessons. So thinking about Show a lot as I’ve been thinking about Shaq, in any way are they similar.”
Shaquille O’Neal famously appeared at WrestleMania 32 in the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale, where he actually eliminated The Big Show. A singles match between the two was the cause of much speculation for months after the event, but never came to pass.
Recently WWE Champion Drew McIntyre commented that he believed that Shaq would have been “a heck of a WWE Superstar” has his NBA career not panned out.
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