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Tales from an AEW media scrum

If you’ve been a reader of this humble website for a while, you may remember a YouTube show Geno Mrosko & I used to do called Cageside Live. One of that podcasts running jokes was that neither of us was “a real journalism”, something which (I believe) came from an insult hurled at us from someone on the interwebs.

We had no problem wearing the “not a real journalism” badge. For one thing, it’s hard to be hurt by someone who doesn’t know the difference between the profession and the professionals who do it. More than that though, Geno’s vision for this site had never been about breaking news. We’re a blog. We strive to be more than an aggregator. The posts you get here have some insight, opinion or humor to go along with the item we’re sharing, but we’ve never been interested in being the first to uncover and share that item. Cageside’s been blessed with a few good reporters in our history, but we hope to entertain and give you something to talk about with other wrestling fans, not replace Dave Meltzer or Wade Keller.

And that’s all a too long way to say this - I maybe shouldn’t have been at the AEW post-Full Gear media scrum in the bowels of Royal Farms Arena in the early hours of Sunday morning? But I was. So I want to tell you what that experience was like...

  • The wrestling press is too male, and too white. It wasn’t all people who looked like me in that room, but it was 90 - 95% people who looked like me in that room. Especially in a racially diverse city like Baltimore, that’s... pretty wild. And not in a good way. Real journalism or not, Cageside needs to do more to change that. Hit me up if you have ideas about how we can, and hold us accountable on that moving forward.

  • Things started off with a bang with Le Champeon himself. I briefly interacted with Chris Jericho once before at an event where he was promoting his second book, but he wasn’t “working” in a wrestling sense then. Seeing him hold court like this up close was something else, and the way he played the room was just another confirmation that while I may not be a farmer, I do know Jericho is one of the greatest of all time.

  • Speaking of Y2J and farmers, I’m very sad to say that I was not the person who asked him about his relationship with Soul Train Jones. I only asked one question, but more on that in a moment. I am happy to say Jericho said he and Mr. Jones break breadsticks at Olive Garden often, and that Virgil will be doing more with AEW and the Inner Circle going forward.

  • It definitely partly/mostly kayfabe boasting from the AEW World champ, but if you’ve listened to Talk Is Jericho or other interviews with Chris, it’s present there, too, so it’s hard to tell. But I think the now 49 year old from Winnipeg is drifting closer to Hulk Hogan/Ric Flair “believing your own legend” territory.

  • Speaking of the Hulkster, Jericho knows how to play the IWC market. Asked something about the Wednesday Night War at one point, he teased that WWE will soon be booking Roman Reigns and Hogan on NXT to counterprogram Dynamite.

  • Yes, these things are still work/shoot hybrids. But like most things, All Elite is learning from past mistakes and sticking to veterans who can walk the tightrope (for example, even when Jericho and later Adam Page were announcing matches for this upcoming Wednesday, they had an in-character justification and approach to the news). Not bringing out any of the EVPs, and therefore keeping them from having to set aside their wrestling personas minutes after performing to address other issues, is probably a good idea.

  • Page followed Jericho. I’m a bit of a Hangman mark, so keep that in mind when I say this. But seeing him in person reinforced the notion he can be a very good Magnum T.A.-type main event babyface for AEW. They need to figure out how to get the television & PPV audiences to see the charm he displayed when pitching “Cowboy Shit” as the theme of the next event, and the everyman character that was apparent when he talked about being more or less the little brother of The Elite.

  • SCU was next, and continued the theme of running out veterans with experience in Japan (where NJPW does a similar press conference gimmick) for this not-easy assignment. Hopefully, they’re prepping some of the younger guys to handle these in the future, because I do think it requires a skillset which is pretty unique.

  • And, hey, maybe they could also send some of the women out to meet the press? Britt Baker or Brandi Rhodes would have made a lot of sense.

  • Back to the tag champs, the early questions were for the returning Christopher Daniels. He made it clear we won’t see the Freebird/New Day Rule in AEW, and continued to push his singles feud with Pentagon Jr. The second half of the interview was dominated by Scorpio Sky. I hadn’t noticed All Elite promoting Sky as their “diversity champ” (for lack of a better term), but a lot of the guys with microphones thought that was the angle to take with Scorp. He handled it very well, and to whatever extent AEW sees him in that role, they’ve made a good choice. His answers about being a “17 year overnight sensation” and working toward the light at the end of the tunnel in particular were quite powerful.

  • As to that one question I asked? If you watch the video, in between questions about Sky’s life and the importance of representation, you’ll hear a dork set SCU up to deliver their catchphrase. That was me. Not a real journalism.

  • Random observation which will fuel some haters but is really just an observation... my man Kyle Decker & I are both about 6’ 2”, and I’m pretty sure we were taller than everyone who took the stage.

  • Tony Khan was out last, and stayed the longest (AEW publicity folks cut off the questions so each of the wrestlers didn’t have to stand there for more than about 10 minutes). He’s very affable, and you come away from interacting with him hoping this thing he’s so passionate about succeeds.

  • That doesn’t mean, like most promoters and marketers, he’s not kind of full of crap at times. Sometimes it’s totally harmless, like the outlandish claim “Double Or Nothing and Full Gear are the two best PPVs I’ve ever seen”. Sometimes it’s frustrating, like an evasive answer to how he’d address criticisms of their booking & presentation of the women’s division (it’s great that you liked the Women’s title match and helped craft the Bea Priestley/Britt Baker story, but that doesn’t answer the question about the lack of time women have received on Dynamite).

So, those are the thoughts that went through this blogger’s head while standing in a room for 90 minutes listening to wrestlers and a wrestling executive after watching a four hour wrestling show on a cold November night.

I didn’t get any video myself since my phone died shortly into the session (not a real journalism). I’ve embedded clips from, if for no other reason than Kelsi was the only woman in the room, and had to work way too hard to ask Khan about the women’s division.

Thanks to the great, professional staff at AEW for giving us the opportunity to experience it.

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