All Elite Wrestling’s Cody Rhodes proved Wednesday night that you don’t need a massive staff of writers to deliver compelling storytelling on the microphone.
Rhodes, not working off a script scrutinized by a team of writers, delivered what can be described without hyperbole as an all-time great wrestling promo during “AEW Dynamite.”
The purpose of the segment was ostensibly to hype up Rhodes’s upcoming match against Chris Jericho for the AEW World Championship at the “Full Gear” pay-per-view on Saturday, but he delivered so much more.
He addressed the elephant in the room that, as an executive vice president with AEW, he helps book the show and determine who gets a title opportunity. He made people laugh with the line about Chris Jericho’s book. He made people cry by invoking his mother, sister and wife as his voice cracked. He made them roar by calling Jericho a “stupid d---.” It was a masterclass in evoking a complete range of emotions.
On his Wrestling Observer Radio show, preeminent wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer heaped praise on Rhodes.
“At wrestling schools going forward, when they’re teaching promo class, this is the one—along with those old Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair promos and Bill Watts promos and Bruno Sammartino promos—this is your go-to studying material for how to do a babyface promo,” Meltzer said.
The Rock, one of the best in WWE history at delivering a promo, also had kind words for Rhodes.
The new wrestling company has made a point of emphasizing the ways in which it is different from WWE, primarily its lighter workload for performers and its lack of a writing staff.
The writer-less approach has worked exceptionally well thus far. Week in and week out AEW delivers compelling promos—like Chris Jericho’s introduction to his “Inner Circle” stable and Jon Moxley’s invitation to “kiss my ass”—that are effective not because they’ve been endlessly tweaked and tinkered with but because they have a sense of urgency that can only be achieved in an unscripted environment.