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Brandi Rhodes explains why AEW Women’s Tag Tournament being on YouTube is ‘the dream scenario’

AEW On TNT At New York Comic Con 2019 Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for WarnerMedia Company

It’s been an exciting couple weeks for AEW Chief Brand Officer Brandi Rhodes.

The Women’s Tag Team Tournament she’s a driving force behind launched online, and she & her Nightmare Sisters tag partner Allie have already advanced to the semi-finals. She introduced the next phase of AEW’s “female-focused community” Heels, and hosted a reportedly successful event for paid subscribers.

But there’s been negative reaction to both, and those efforts have been grouped with fan frustration about the lack of television time for women on Dynamite each week. In the midst of the debate, Rhodes left Twitter.

She talked about all those topics with TV Insider’s Scott Fishman.

On coming up with the Women’s Tag Tournament:

“It has been a really fun labor of love coming together with the tournament. This is something I thought about months back. It was a good idea, but we wanted to wait until it was the right time. I saw a lot of the ladies we were bringing in for AEW Dark were really talented. They were having their time to shine. I saw a lot of independent women who weren’t doing much because of the pandemic and knowing they were dying to get back out there and start building their brands again and seeing the wrestling world again. I thought it was a good opportunity to bring these women together along with the AEW women.

“We wanted to see what could happen from that. What did happen was a really fun tournament. From seeing the first screener, I was blown away by how much attention to detail we have from production, all the mutual character pieces, the draws we’ve been dropping through social media. All of those details, I was in on every single one of them, but you are still surprised when you do see the final result and it’s better than you expected with your expectations already being pretty high. I’ve been happy with it, and the women involved have been happy with it. It’s something we worked towards and feel really good about.”

On why the tournament is on YouTube instead of television:

“With YouTube, it’s its own show. That means we are trusted enough to carry our own show and don’t have to be compared to men. We were also not restricted on time. So it’s really the dream scenario. Better than finding out when we are live and something went long, you may only have four minutes to put it out there. That’s really hard, especially when you are trying to introduce new women and put that kind of pressure on them. Being it’s our own show without the restraints and to be able to tell these stories how we want to is a really great situation.”

On criticism of the booking of women on Dynamite:

“It’s an interesting question because I don’t feel it really applies to me considering it’s not something week-to-week I discuss or plan. I took this tournament on as a side project. Of course, in doing the tournament I know what the criticisms have been. I know what they are and thought this would be really great for that, especially those who are die-hard women’s wrestling fans. As far as the week-to-week goes, unfortunately that’s a burden that lies elsewhere. Thankfully, it’s not one I have to navigate so frequently.“

On the decision to charge for Heels membership, and what she envisions for the program going forward:

“I think the word of mouth on Heels is going to be the best thing for it. After the event on Friday the word about it was positive. There was not a single person of the two hundred and change people who showed up that said I did not get what I expected or asked for...We want to keep the women excited and looking forward to different things. The plans are very much laid out for Heels. We’ve got a course of action for an entire year here. That course of action can change a little bit as the conditions of the world improves, but I think for now we’ve got plenty of events and virtual meet-and-greets and contests and cool things for these women. Not just monthly, but weekly...It’s a cool thing to talk to each other and motivate each other and share their slices of life and just have fun, which is so much of what is missing in life. These are trying times with current events. If “Heels” can be the bright light at the end of the tunnel for them, we’re happy to do whatever it takes to make it that.

“Another thing for people to know out of the gate is that Heels is not ever going to be something I look to as a super profitable thing. It’s not intended to be. It’s intended to be something they can count on and grow with and learn with and get something out of. In order to run a multi-faceted platform like that, it costs money. It’s not cheap by any means. This is not going to be a huge cash grab for AEW. But it’s something fans will love and appreciate, so it’s worth all the work and effort. Not everything is about a dollar. Some things are about what’s right.“

On leaving Twitter:

“I just think that right now there are other things that need my attention a lot more. I’m focusing on Heels... It’s nice to come together in a community of women that really appreciated it and enjoyed it. We had a really great time on Friday night. It was nice to put my energy into that. My energy is also going into the Women’s Tag Team Cup Tournament... It has been a really nice weekend to put all my time and energy into what I want to be focusing on right now.“

It’s an interesting conversation, and one that might have helped alleviate some of the pushback to Rhodes’ projects if it had been published before or closer to their launch. But you can’t please all of the people all of the time - especially not when they all have Twitter & Instagram accounts.

Check out Fishman’s entire interview with Brandi, which includes a discussion of the recently launched AEW toy line and the future of the women’s tag team division, here.

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