For the first time since WrestleMania 32, Shaquille O'Neal is set to step foot in a wrestling ring once again on March 3.
Shaq has been tied to wrestling ever since he made an appearance alongside Hulk Hogan at WCW Bash at the Beach 94. Though he has only wrestled one official match, Shaq has been putting in the world with QT Marshall to get him ready for the upcoming tag team bout that will see him team with Jade Cargill to take on Cody Rhodes and Red Velvet.
Speaking to New York Post, Cody revealed how the match eventually came together.
"What happened is really what fans saw. He tweeted about me (in August 2020) and didnt, I don’t think, particularly know me. He just knew he had a show on TNT and we had seen each other at the upfronts and “Dynamite” was kicking ass and I think he chose an in-house professional wrestler to pick on. And I didn’t think much of it other than, you know, us wrestlers, we love when we see the blue (Twitter) checks, we love when we see people talking about our world," he recalled. "Then the next you know, QT (Marshall) calls me like half a year ago, so this is a while ago. He called me and said, “Hey, I just want to make you aware of something.” When that’s how he frames it, I know it’s going to be something about the Nightmare Factory. He said, I just want to make you aware of it that Shaq came in and started training. I said, well send me a video, I’ve got to see it. He’s done a good amount of training with QT with a couple bodies there that he can throw around and things of that nature. Right at that moment, I knew we were into an area where this could really, seriously happen. We really jumped on it in the best way we could. QT is really technically responsible for that. He and (AEW president) Tony Khan because he and Tony have a great relationship as well. It kind of willed itself into existence like so many other things in AEW."
When asked how often Shaq is training with Marshall, Cody said, "I don’t have a lot of interaction with him. I know when he trains it’s very long. They put in over two hours. They go from the weight room to the ring and two to three of our better guys bump around, training themselves and want to be there. They’re there almost all night. I’ve never trained with him. He’s very much been trained by QT. They train pretty regularly and I’m excited. When you’re of that size. If you were coming in, not Shaq, if you were that big I would want you to train and learn to do as much as you can but most wrestling promoters and bookers and companies aren’t going to have you do as much. There is very much a less-is-more guideline for a legitimate giant. Not many come into wrestling anymore. The only thing I’ve been thinking of in my mind is I wrestled Big Show so many times. He was just one of the most valuable teachers to me. He was everything. He was a genuine adversary when it came to how he handled going to WrestleMania. He was my first taste of good politics, bad politics, and he was an angel in the ring to wrestle with. It gave me some absolute valuable lessons. So thinking about Show a lot as I’ve been thinking about Shaq, in any way are they similar."
Shaq continues to perform his duties as an analyst on Inside The NBA each week on TNT.
While Shaq and Cody will garner the headlines for the match, Red Velvet and Jade Cargill have a chance to increase their stock as the partners of the two men.
Speaking on the opportunity for Cargill and Velvet, Cody said, "Red Velvet, this is the golden ticket. Everyone likes Red Velvet and she went ahead and said, ‘I’m not just going to be a replacement.’ Her and Arn (Anderson) discussed doing that interview (in the “Waiting Room” segment) where I just basically stood there like a pud, which was great. I don’t have to do a seven-minute manifesto. If I’ve got one ready, I’m ready. I was genuinely in the moment impressed and thought she endeared herself to the audience. I felt she didn’t try to be patronizing to me or be a suck-up of anything of that nature. She really kind of stuck her point out there and walked off and had us think about it. And very sincerely, if there was any doubt on who should fill that role she made it all clear because there were a lot of names that got thrown around when (my wife) Brandi got pregnant. And she made it all clear that it was gonna be Red Velvet. I was very proud of her and I don’t even know her that well. As far as Jade is concerned, this might piss some people off, and I’m only telling you from an optics standpoint, but Jade trains incredibly hard. I know she’s incredibly disciplined. She’s not that nice to me, but she reminds me so much of the early stages of Chyna and in her own unique way. I come to find out in the little bit of interaction I had with her before she ripped me on the mic, Chyna is her favorite wrestler. I haven’t had that experience yet with a trainee and somebody who is breaking into the industry. For me, to have Red Velvet and to have Jade and everything that’s also going on with what (women’s champion) Hikaru Shida’s been putting together with the women’s tournament, we are trying to take all the steps we can at a real pace without hot-shotting to just bolster our presence on our women on the show."
The bout between Cody & Red Velvet against Shaq & Jade Cargill is currently scheduled for the March 3 episode of AEW Dynamite.
Cody is currently battling through a slight tear of his left rotator cuff.