Did you know that Shaq is wrestling tonight? Yes, that’s right. NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal is wrestling in a mixed tag team match on AEW Dynamite. Shaq will team with former college basketball standout Jade Cargill, making her in-ring debut against Cody Rhodes and the relatively unknown Red Velvet.
Sadly, this is the most poorly promoted celebrity wrestling match of all time. The feud peaked on the December 9 episode of Dynamite when Cody’s wife, Brandi Rhodes, threw a glass of water at Shaq after he taunted her, saying, “while your arm’s in a sling, I think you should watch Jade. You should probably get some pointers from her.”
Since that time, Jade’s made sporadic appearances on Dynamite while Velvet has appeared even less. Velvet, who is filling in for Brandi due to her recent pregnancy, has only appeared on three Dynamite episodes in backstage and interview segments.
Cody Rhodes has done the bulk of the promotion leading up to the match, while Shaq appears in the occasional video package. Shaq is a busy guy, and Jade and Velvet are green, so AEW gets a pass. However, WWE would do a better job of hyping this match in the same situation.
Tonight’s matchup has garnered more intrigue since Paul Wight, aka The Big Show, signed with AEW last week and is making his debut this evening. Shaq and Wight were long rumored to wrestle each other in WWE with a handful of brief encounters over the years.
A matchup between the two colossal athletes is more likely than ever due to the corporate synergy with both working for TNT branded companies. Wight has signed with AEW to be a commentator for the promotions new show while Shaq hosts NBA on TNT.
Shaq is the big draw, but Cody Rhodes is the most important part of the equation. He’s the only experienced wrestler in a match with three inexperienced individuals and will need to have his working boots on this evening.
Cody Rhodes is a really good worker, and he’s a nickels difference away from being great. However, in high-profile celebrity matches, it takes a great worker to pull off the illusion of a great match and the circumstances involved are a tall order for even the greatest workers of all-time.
With all of the chips on the line, odds are Cody will turn water into wine. The skill, will, and success rate of “The American Nightmare” has conjured some of AEW’s most memorable moments and matches since the promotion’s inception. Still, how the heck is he going to do it?
That’s the great thing about pro wrestling. We got to watch to find out.