Cody Rhodes has revealed the lengths All Elite Wrestling are going to in order to protect their wrestlers and staff ahead of their next major pay-per-view this weekend.
One year ago, AEW presented their first major show after unveiling their brand. As successful as it was, it was always going to be interesting to see how the company would develop from there.
However, while few expected the crowd in attendance to Double, even fewer expected it would be Nothing!
Of course, Double or Nothing has, like everything else in this eerie time, been affected by the global Covid-19 crisis.
The event, originally scheduled for the sold-out MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, will now take place in front of no fans, in the Daily’s Place amphitheatre in AEW’s hometown of Jacksonville, Florida.
While no fans are allowed to attend, for obvious reasons, Cody has explained the procedures for all working personnel present at the event.
Speaking at a Thursday conference call ahead of Double or Nothing, the AEW Executive Vice President said: “Our medical team are already presented with the test of a violent wrestling show – now they have a global pandemic, and they have been above and beyond, putting in countless hours to make sure everyone is tested.
“No-one in this bowl, in the building, touching a camera, or wrestling in the ring will go untested. That is something I am proud of how they have done.
“Just to get into the hallway of where my office is, I need a temperature check in the parking lot, and to get into the building.
“We do Covid testing in quarantine so there is no cross-contamination. The ring crew are working overtime to sanitise, and the use of masks wherever possible. It has been a unique challenge.
“I’m obsessed with wrestling. This has presented a challenge that I want. There is no-one in the crowd but they are still at home watching with their family, and they are there to be entertained.
“But we don’t have the instant gratification of knowing that this spot worked, or this spot did not work. It is my job to entertain them, and I can’t know for sure if I am doing it.
“I have relished the challenged, and it is clear about who has stepped up during his scenario. Swords have been sharpened, people have honed their skills. People will come out of his pandemic as better wrestlers.
Those with eyes to the future are already asking how our lives are going to change, in general, potentially living with the virus.
Asked about wrestling may adapt, Cody picked out one old-school backstage tradition of the wrestling firmament that may now be under threat.
“It is an adjustment that a lot of businesses have seen. Backstage at a wrestling show, everyone shakes hands. That might be considered passé now.
“If stopping prevents this virus from moving from one person to the next, it is a step that has to be taken.
“We now have a whole new chapter in crisis management. If something else presents itself, we know as a company we are using best practises to deal with it.”
Cody is scheduled to meet Lance Archer in the final of a tournament for the brand new TNT Championship, in which the winner will be presented with their new belt by former boxing world champion Mike Tyson.
Tyson is no stranger to wrestling, having acted as an outside enforcer for the Wrestlemania 14 main event and as a former Raw guest host.
Amid rumours of a comeback to the boxing ring Tyson, now 53, will add a touch of sporting cachet to proceedings.
“Mike Tyson is somebody we met, as a company, at Double or Nothing last year,” said Cody. “We have come to respect him as a hardcore fan of what we do.
“That is one of the last touches that was put on Double or Nothing in terms of who will be the one to present the championship.
“He has an element of prestige, and hopefully he will be handing it to me. It has been fun getting to know Mike over the last year.”
AEW Double or Nothing takes place at 8pm, Eastern Time in the US, which means it begins at 1am on Sunday morning for us in the UK. It can be viewed on Fite.TV and will cost $19.99 (approx. £16.50).