The incident involving Cody Rhodes taking an unprotected chair shot to the head at AEW Fyter Fest 2020 provided for a great moment, albeit a controversial one, for AEW executives. Speaking on the AEW Unrestricted podcast, Cody Rhodes explained his mindset when he pitched this idea in an attempt to “take chair shots back for the boys.”
“The thing that gets talked about a lot—and it’s safe to talk about now—is the ‘gimmicked’ chair with Shawn Spears and how terribly wrong it all went. I actually told him last night. I told Ronnie, which is Shawn’s real name. Now we’re really ‘Unrestricted’ — I had told Ronnie, former blackjack dealer from Mississaugua—that guy has been on a journey. I told him it’s entirely my fault what happened. The whole thing is my fault, the whole thing. The scene when I came back, and I did not have a concussion, but I definitely was shell-shocked. When I came back and Steve Yu and all the Comeback Studio guys were filming, they were filming a very real moment, but I saw out of the corner of my eyes as I headed for the training room, [Jon] Moxley and Tony Khan just ripping Spears to shreds. I hadn’t seen that side of the the owner and the founder, the chief, the boss, Tony, and I hadn’t seen that side of Moxley. Some days, he says one-half of a word to you. Other days, he’s talking your ear off.”
Cody went on to explain how Moxley was showing Spears the proper way to do a move like that, but took ownership of what went wrong and said he was the one that told Spears to swing from the side.
“I told him to swing from the side, and the last words I told him, because there’s a whole series of days prior to this where we’re going over it were, ‘swing for the fences.’ When I landed, I don’t know if you can make out the camera shot, but when I land my head is so stiff from the shot that I land, the awkward landing where you have two falls. I muttered, ‘swing for the fences.’ I knew, because here was my objective and I want people to understand this—wrestling is violent. People get hurt, this is not ballet, you’ve heard all of this. I don’t want anyone to get hurt, and the art is to make it look like we hurt each other and then we go home, that’s why we shake hands over and over and over again. If we’re going to be held to the same standard as TV and film, which some people would like to hold us to those same standards because we have a comparable reach, global penetration, pop culture-wise. If Captain America can be swinging his shield around and hitting people in the head with it, no one is crying ‘headshots.’ No one is blaming this modern generation for whatever the hell they did in 199o-something with Mick, Rock, [and] Shamrock. That’s not our fault. I wanted to take chair shots to the head back for the boys but I wanted to do it safely.”
“The plan was, and I’ll explain it because everyone was pretty adamant [at being] against it. I said we do a chair shot to the head, but we will literally gimmick the chair. So, gimmicking the chair, it would have been nice to have a person who knew how to do that. It went from my friend ordered this on Amazon and see if this works or, take the cushion off and is it super-thin like sheet metal, like a cookie sheet? And then if we play with these chairs too much it won’t look like a wrestling steel chair, so what do we do?”
Cody Rhodes would further explain how the gimmicking of the chair was supposed to go, revealing that Charlie Ramon, the security guard who saved Jon Moxley from the overzealous fan at All Out, was originally the head of the props department and detailed their trial-and-error process to get it right.
“The plan was, Charlie was going to sand the seat down until it was a cookie sheet. A cookie sheet can’t hurt anybody, but it sounds like it does. It’s not unlike why we hit each other with the trash can lid. It’s weird that in these wrestling street fights, we always somehow find these trash can lids from the steel trash cans that no one’s had in years. It sounds good, but again, he was going to sand it down and [Spears would] ‘swing for the fences.’
Cody went on to explain that he had them commission a second chair just in case they wanted to test one. He added that Tony Khan wanted to test the chair on himself to make sure things went correctly, before reflecting on how he could have done things differently in telling more people what was going down and perhaps not doing the spot at all.
“The night before, walking to the [Ocean Center in Daytona Beach], Tony Khan is adamant that Charlie hits him with the chair. I was adamant that he is not hitting [Tony] with the chair. ‘You’re not taking a headshot.’ [Tony said] ‘No, if you’re taking the headshot, I want to take the headshot.’ And I really appreciate it, but we’re sanding this thing down and we can’t dent it. And if we dent one— perhaps we should have. I still would never want Tony to take it, but he was even like banging it against his own head, like ‘See, it’s nothing’ and he kept banging it against his own head, he’s such an energetic individual.”
“But what I told him was if we get a lot of heat right out of the gate optics-wise, if we get a lot of heat, say to whatever sources you want to, however you want to distill this information, tell them it was a gimmicked chair. So in the fiction, in the actual product and what we’re doing, we’re not addressing it. But off the record, he is addressing it so really, no one can get mad. That was the plan. [We] should’ve coordinated the plan with everybody. That would include Matt and Nick Jackson, who I left out in the wilderness on this. Kenny [Omega], I don’t think I said a word to about this. That was the plan, so that’s where the term ‘gimmicked chair’ came from.
“In the end, he did sand the chair down. It was sheet metal, it was beautiful. My advice to Ronnie [Shawn Spears] to swing from the side, it was created— and he did swing for the fences—the back bar, the top bar is what ate the back of my head. You can literally [feel it] if you put your hand back there. So I was happy, and I knew it went bad, but it was a great moment. I didn’t have a concussion, Brandi doesn’t like when I do violent things, but I’m a weird, violent wrestler. I like to get hit in the face, it’s a weird thing, she doesn’t like that. So she’s yelling at me, but not yelling at me, being a good wife and in the moment I was like ‘nah, the moment was cool. That was it, that was a cool moment.’
“And then they went on that scrum that night, Matt and Nick went on the scrum and they’re saying it was gimmicked, Tony said it was ‘pilot error’, and then it just became this big thing and ‘we’re never going to do chair shots to the head again.’ My attempt to get chair shots to the head back for the boys, but safely, was a failed attempt. And in hindsight, maybe it never should have been attempted because the optics of hitting someone in the head with a chair are still the same, whether it’s our fault for what Mankind, Ken Shamrock and all those other guys did, people still look at it that way. So, I didn’t think of that and it was a big lesson for me. Would I do it again? Yeah. I would, because it led to a fun pay-per-view, and Spears has never really had the moment that I think he deserves. In that case, he had Tully Blanchard, he had that moment, so I thought it was the right moment and it’s what he deserved as somebody who helped train me early on in my career and was really patient with me. But yeah, the chair, we still have one at the Nightmare Factory. We have the other one, so you never know. It’s available but you can’t swing it sideways, as Moxley kept [emphasizing]. You’ve got to swing it overhead. Chairs to the head, I don’t see us doing again.”
Check out the full episode of AEW Unrestricted with Cody Rhodes below: