READ | Atlanta earns a ringside seat to professional wrestling's big moment
He said it isn't lost on him that the match is on same spot that held the Omni Coliseum, which hosted spectacular matches from legends like his late father "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes.
Atlanta’s connection to wrestling goes back five decades, when Ted Turner needed cheap entertainment to fill his burgeoning Superstation, Channel 17.
Soon after upstart All Elite Wrestling announced its Wednesday night shows on TNT, Vince McMahon’s WWE announced it was moving what many wrestling fans feel is its best show, NXT, to Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. on USA network.
This all brings to mind the "Monday Night Wars" of the late 90s when Turner's Smyrna-based World Championship Wrestling tried to put McMahon's World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) in a ratings stranglehold.
This is a 2001 file photo showing WCW Saturday night, which was taped at Center Stage. (Photo credit: Walter Stricklin)
How's the current fight shaping up? Longtime wrestling publication The Wrestling Observer reported Thursday that AEW this week had 817,000 viewers (a 12% dip from last week) compared to 757,000 on the WWE's NXT show. WarnerMedia announced in January that AEW's weekly Dynamite program had been extended through 2023.
Rhodes and his team have tried to differentiate their program by showcasing diverse talent at all levels of the company, including his wife — wrestler and chief brand officer Brandi Rhodes.
All Elite Wrestling’s chief brand officer Brandi Rhodes is an accomplished wrestler. She is also the first black female wrestling executive. (Tom Donoghue/Courtesy of AEW)
For decades it was uncommon for women, especially black women like Brandi, to be given respectable storylines as wrestlers. Looks were valued over talent.
“I was told the No. 1 thing I needed to do was save my money, because my shelf life was five years,” Brandi Rhodes told the AJC on Friday.
As for her role as wrestling’s first black female executive? “It’s something I don’t think of regularly because it’s such a tall order,” she said.
From 2016 on AJ Styles | Georgia wrestler ready for WWE spotlight
Considering their connection and history, Rhodes told the AJC back in August before the weekly program went on air they wanted the first Atlanta show to be special.
“In Atlanta, if you’re going to show up, show up with a big agenda,” she said Friday.
All Elite Wrestling, like many in sports-entertainment, have little regard for gravity. (Tom Donoghue/Courtesy of AEW)
It's shaping up to be quite a night, with the promotion's first cage match, featuring Cody himself against the enforcer of a man who took a belt to Cody's bare skin 10 times until welts formed on his back on live television — but wrestling's fake, right? The Atlanta show will also feature the AEW premiere of 2004 Olympic wrestler Jeff Cobb, whose build puts some brick houses to shame.
Brandi Rhodes said she expects people to fly into Atlanta to see the history live.
“The firsts keep happening, but they only happen one time,” she said.
In other news...
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If you go…
All Elite Wrestling’s two-hour show begins at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 19. It will be held at State Farm Arena, 1 State Farm Drive in downtown Atlanta.
Tickets can be purchased online starting at $20.
For those using MARTA to get to the show, take the green or blue line to the Georgia World Congress Center/CNN Center station, which is the first westbound stop from the Five Points station.
If you don’t go and are still itching for some wrasslin’ at 8 p.m., you can watch AEW on TNT or WWE’s NXT on USA Network.
AEW is also running a promotion with the American Heart Association's Atlanta branch to give some T-shirt sale proceeds to the organization.