On a conference call ahead of AEW Full Gear this weekend, AEW EVP Cody Rhodes discussed his match defending the TNT Championship against Darby Allin at the event. Cody put over Darby Allin as a locker room leader of sorts in AEW and touted Allin's experience. Ultimately, Cody seemed to be not too worried about the match and even suggested other challengers could have stepped up instead. What does it all mean?
"I had a conversation with Jim Ross yesterday about Darby," Cody said on the call. "Who is Darby going to be in the future? For AEW, where does he play, and how it is a tough draw for him to be in there with me when I'm still on the climb up on this roller coaster. This run I've gone on is genuinely unexpected. And I can't apologize for my own hard work. I'm very excited about it. It's what I've dreamed of my whole life."
"But this is a very different Darby," Cody continued. "This is Darby, who now has experience with Jon Moxley. This is a Darby who is not bewildered by the big lights of this anymore. Darby is one of the most dedicated wrestlers that AEW. He doesn't party. He doesn't politic. He consistently thinks of his own brand and how his brand can lean into the AEW brand. He is a loner, but I don't think he realizes he's also a leader because of how he leads by example. When this match was brought up to me, it's already a vastly different match because I'm dealing with a different Darby, and you're dealing with a different me. I gained 14 real pounds during my hiatus, and I'm continuing the bulking cycle through Full Gear all the way to Revolution. So Darby is now in there with a full-fledged heavyweight, and Darby, the longer this goes, the more in his favor this match will be because he's got the lighter bodyweight, the lighter body fat composition.
Cody, throughout his answer, acted what some might consider being a little bit heelish.
'But I think your hot dog is not going to get cold for this match. Darby has not been able to beat me on three occasions. I don't think this will be any different. I don't mean to undersell my own match," said Cody though he was, kind of, underselling his own match. "I'm not looking past Darby, but I think there were other challengers that could have stepped up. And if Darby is the one, if he's not going to bend the knee again, then I'll stand corrected on that. Very proud of Darby. As I said on the air last night, I solely recruited him when no one else wanted him. So I'm glad to have him in this match. I'm not looking past him at all."
So was Cody burying Darby Allin on this conference call? Is it a hint that Darby could be victorious at Full Gear tonight? We'll find out soon. Full Gear takes place on PPV at 8 PM Eastern time.