“What does it take to be All-Elite?” the new AEW Unrestricted podcast asks and for wrestling fans who listened to the first episode with Jon Moxley recounting how he became a wrestler, the answer is: whatever you have to do.
Creating a podcast is a low-risk, high-reward venture for the still-new wrestling company and follows closely on the heels of their new action-figure line showcasing their top stars like Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks.
So is the show just a long-form commercial for their toys and hit Wednesday night program AEW: Dynamite that goes head-to-head with WWE’s show NXT in a new version of the famous “Monday Night Wars?
Thankfully not, that would be kind of a drag.
The first episode launched February 20 and this is how the company summarizes it for their platforms:
“Dig in with the stars and talented team behind AEW on TNT via in-depth conversations highlighting their lives, pop culture, and pro wrestling. AEW referee Aubrey Edwards and broadcaster Tony Schiavone bring you new episodes every Thursday.”
Tony Schiavone is of course well known to wrestling fans for his work announcing WCW during their Nitro days, and more recently was brought out of announcing retirement by AEW in a surprise move solidifying their ranks and joining “good ol” JR Jim Ross. This is his second podcast following What Happened When where he recounts memories of old WCW pay-per-views. Aubrey Edwards, the female AEW referee, is the other host and she brings a lot of enthusiasm and joy in this first episode. As a referee in a position that has long been dominated by men, I’m sure she has quite the interesting tale of how she got into wrestling herself.
The first episode, which is also available in video format on YouTube, is an interview format even though the hosts didn’t ask very many questions, and their guest, AEW wrestler Jon Moxley with very little prompting, told the story of his life in wrestling from early childhood till today.
“I don’t remember a time before it,” Moxley said in describing when he first became aware of professional wrestling. Growing up in Cincinnati, he says he only had access to an hour of WWF television every week and he idolized Bret Hart and bought every wrestling tape on VHS from every flea market he could find. Moxley and his friends didn’t know what was real in wrestling, “Did Undertaker sleep in a coffin? We didn’t know,” he emphasized with his gravely matter-of-fact voice.
Like many great wrestlers before him, Moxley lied about being 18 to get into wrestling school and then worked as a wrestler in near anonymity until his signing by WWE in the late 2000’s. “I went from being a nobody to doing mall signings and girls running up to me screaming,” he says in describing his sudden fame.
It’s a fascinating hour of storytelling with details that most people didn’t know about the fan favorite, even though the ending with leaving WWE felt like a truncated version of his long rant on Talk is Jericho last May.
I think it’s a great decision for AEW’s first podcast to be a storytelling show in the vein of Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore Podcast instead of a recap show, and I look forward to see where they take it next. The official press release says that “other early episodes will feature Cody, Brandi Rhodes, and The Young Bucks.”
New episodes appear every Thursday and the show is part of the Warner Media Podcast Network joining other heavy hitter media companies like Bleacher Report, CNN, and TNT.