AEW's Brandi Rhodes, Kia Stevens Talk DC, Inclusion and the Brand's Future

All Elite Wrestling: Dynamite proved itself one of the biggest brands in wrestling right off from the start a dominant premiere that brought in 1.4 million viewers. AEW's Chief Brand Officer Brandi Rhodes and Kia Stevens/Awesome Kong attended a roundtable at New York Comic Con 2019. In conversation with CBR and other outlets, Rhodes and Stevens talked about their reactions to the first episode of Dynamite, AEW's collaboration with DC Comics and the brand's inclusive principles.

Of her DC cover, Stevens said, "I was like a little kid running around the house. We printed it out and we made them like fight each other. We were so silly. But what do you do when you become a DC character? I don't know if you know this, but I have the Welfare Queen doll, and I have an Awesome Kong doll. So we literally printed out the DC thing [and had them fight].

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Rhodes talked about the potential of future such crossovers, saying, "Things like that I think are a little like inklings to the idea that there's more that we could do… there was a great response from it. People were super hyped about the crossover." She went on to explain that opened up the possibility of more such collaborations in the future.

Rhodes and Stevens were then asked about how important fan feedback was to them, referencing Cody Rhodes' emotional letter prior to the first episode of Dynamite airing. Rhodes started explained that working with WarnerMedia meant they were better able to figure out what people were actually saying as opposed to "three or four people, who are just putting out 300 messages that makes it seem like everybody thinks this."

Rhodes explained that they were analyzing what people were saying to figure out if it was negative or positive, and that necessary shifts and changes would be made.

About her experience with the first episode of Dynamite, Rhodes said, "Honestly, so I am not a nervous person. I missed that somewhere. It doesn't happen for me, which is kind of good sometimes, but for the first time ever, I felt like I was gonna throw up. And I couldn't really figure it out. Because we've done this... And I think it's just because everything hits you that what you've done is really huge... This is happening. This is never going to happen again."

She added that, when leaving the backstage area, "We're seeing all these people moving, which means they're having a great time. It was like walking into something where you didn't think you knew anybody and then you see all your friends and your family."

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 04: Brandi Rhodes attends the All Elite Wrestling press line during 2019 New York Comic Con at Jacob Javits Center on October 04, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for WarnerMedia Company)

Stevens explained her experience, saying, "I was just proud of the whole production team. You know, grueling task, but I just felt very happy for the fans, because they just seemed so happy and excited. You know what I mean? A new excitement. I was like, 'wow.' I'm happy for you guys. Me too. I'm happy too."

In addition to AEW, Stevens stars on Netflix's GLOW. She was asked about the possibility of cameos from some of her co-stars. "You never know," she teased. "You never know. I mean, seriously, you never know... It would be a surprise, as far as surprises go. I couldn't tell you, because then it wouldn't be a surprise, and we like to keep you guys on the edge of your seats."

Asked about how AEW went about scouting talent, Rhodes said, "As far as the representation, I’m looking at female wrestlers in particular, I don't have any blinders on. So what I'm looking for is something wrestle-wise that really gets me. In the case of Sadie Gibbs, it was that fans were going 'Have you seen Sadie Gibbs?' And I'm going, 'Who the hell is Sadie Gibbs?" And I looked into her work. And then I'm like, 'Oh, this is this is why these people are getting behind this girl. She's very talented.' Nevermind that she's in England. Nevermind that she hasn't been on TV before. This is something that people want to see. And it's the same with everyone.

Speaking about the current AEW Women's Champion, Rhodes said, "You know, Riho. She doesn't speak English. Is that something that's going to keep us from having her as part of the roster? No, she's incredible. And she's got incredible heart, and she's really very talented in that ring in many different ways. So I think the answer is not to be looking for anything, just to be having an open mind to. All right, what makes me excited? What do I see that fans are getting excited about that I feel some excitement for when I show it to the rest of the guys. They say whoa, cool. That's it."

Stevens added, "They take the pulse of the people. I love it."

Addressing the way AEW puts women at the forefront and Aubrey Edwards, who became the first female referee to call a main event world championship match at All Out, Rhodes spoke to the Edwards' talent, saying, "Aubrey is that damn good. She's good. She's very good. Like, everybody wants Aubrey all the time. Like, if I have a choice, if I'm having a match, I want Aubrey. I just do. I feel great with her, because she helps with everything in that ring. She helps with the story. She's so into the match. She's essential. So in that same light, when women are very good, you got to give it to them. You got to give them that spotlight. Gotta give them those spots. The women's match, in my opinion, was one of the best matches of the the night the other night. They were given the same that the men were going to be giving. They had in ring, classic ring announcement, because typically with women, that's not there, for time reasons. Make time for it, because this is that important of a match. It's just as long as the women continue to deliver in these ways and prove that they deserve the spots that they're being given, they're going to keep getting these spots.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 04: Kia Stevens aka Awesome Kong attends the All Elite Wrestling press line during 2019 New York Comic Con at Jacob Javits Center on October 04, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for WarnerMedia Company)

Stevens added, "It’s funny, I was in the locker room the other night, and I was like, wow, thinking about Aubrey. If we keep going the way we’re going with women and the roles that they traditionally haven’t been in before, in five, six, seven years, a generation growing up, won't see the difference of why is that unusual. You know what I mean? It will just be a person occupying that role. And people can occupy any role they want. So I think that's, you know, a reason why it would be important, because, in a few years, a generation is coming. And we want them to know a person can occupy any role, whatever role that may be."

Rhodes was then asked about potential other partnerships, saying, "I'm so happy that this week went so well, because I've got a database of different things that I'm interested in exploring. But unfortunately, without the notability, it's hard to reach out. So immediately on Thursday, I started reaching out to a lot of these places, and the response has been great. So I think that you're going to continue to see a lot of partnerships coming together that have kind of that as their focus. Inclusivity, diversity, being open to everyone, being welcoming. I think I hope I've got a long week, and a lot of calls and a lot of meetings."

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AEW's Chief Brand Officer then added that she's "hopeful" for current and future relationships.

Following on that, Rhodes was asked about the general lack of homophobia in AEW and making events more inclusive and welcoming. She replied, "I had a conversation with our in-house security just Wednesday. Just kind of said, 'Hey, just want to set this precedent that we've been working together for awhile. I trust you guys implicitly. If you hear anything, you don't have to ask me, you don't have to ask anyone else. The person’s gone. You heard it, or someone tells you that they heard it, and if someone’s uncomfortable, you have the ability to make the calls. You don't have to radio back and say hey, there's a guy who's been drinking. Get him out of here.'"

The final question of the roundtable dealt with the possibility of AEW eventually having an event in New York, which Rhodes indicated would likely happen at some point in the future, though she didn't provide any specific information.

AEW: Dynamite airs Wednesdays on TNT.

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