One of the most jarring moments in AEW history occurred last year at Fyter Fest, when Shawn Spears hit Cody Rhodes with an unprotected chair shot to the head. Cody was left laying in a pool of blood.
Cody opened up about the incident on this week’s AEW Unrestricted podcast. He began by explaining that if Hollywood action movies can pull off seemingly violent stunts in a safe manner, then pro wrestling should be able to do it too. Here is the transcript of his rationale, courtesy of Wrestling Inc:
“Wrestling is violent. People get hurt. This is not ballet. You’ve heard all this stuff. Now, I don’t want anyone to get hurt. The art is to make it look like we hurt each other, and then we can 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. We have a comparable reach. We have global penetration, pop culture-wise.
Well, then if Captain America can be swinging his shield around, hitting people on the head with it, no one’s crying headshots. No one’s blaming this modern generation for whatever the hell they did in 1990 something with Mick [Foley] and Rock and [Ken] Shamrock. That’s not our fault. So I wanted to take chair shots to the head back for the boys, but I wanted to do it safely.”
Setting aside the cringe factor behind the phrase “take chair shots to the head back for the boys”, it sounds like Cody primarily wanted to lean on movie magic to safely execute a thrilling moment. You can check out the full interview to hear Cody describe the entire process behind gimmicking the chair, and how even Tony Khan wanted to take the chair shot to his head for testing purposes.
So how did it go wrong? Cody puts the blame on himself, saying that he told Spears to swing from the side. That allowed the top bar of the chair, which was not gimmicked, to obliterate Cody’s skull. In order to do it safely, the chair needed to be swung overhead:
“In the end, he did sand the chair down, it was sheet metal [and] it was beautiful. It’s just my advice to [Spears] to swing from the side is what created—he swung for the fences, but the back bar, the top bar is what ate the back of my head. So I knew it went bad, but I was like, ‘man, it was a great moment. 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.”
Cody recounts how Tony Khan and Jon Moxley chewed Spears out for the incident in the immediate aftermath, reprimanding him for swinging the chair from the wrong position. Rhodes tries his best in this interview to put all of that blame on himself, because he’s the one who directed Spears on how to swing the chair.
Considering that another planned spot with a gimmicked chair went awry between Matt Hardy and Sammy Guevara three months ago, leading to a great amount of blood loss, it’s probably for the best to stay away from these risky spots that involve a wrestler’s head.
What do you think about Cody’s theory that if something can be done safely in the movies, then it should be possible in wrestling too?