Women of Honor wrestler and cast member for the forthcoming WAGS Atlanta on E!, Brandi Rhodes talks about her career, the show and much more.
Brandi Rhodes is by no means a new name in the world of professional wrestling. However, she’s finding herself in new ventures these days. In July, she made her debut in the ring with Women of Honor, once how Ring of Honor referred to female talent, but now it’s own entity and show. Rhodes is doing more than just that.
The wife of Bullet Club member and The American Nightmare, Cody, Rhodes has been pegged as one of the cast members for WAGS Atlanta, a reality television show that is awaiting it’s premiere just after the turn of the calendar. The show is the second city-specific spin-off of E!‘s original WAGS show.
She was kind enough to talk about her career in the ring, offer some details about filming WAGS Atlanta, about being part of the wrestling-rich Rhodes family, and much more.
Cody Williams: Working as a professional wrestler is rigorous in itself. Have you found it any more stressful with the addition of filming WAGS Atlanta to your schedule?
Brandi Rhodes: Oh, definitely. [laughs] It actually was very — You know, filming a television show like this, they expect to have all of your time. But then when they also want to film things like your other work projects, they expect to be able to do that, but do it on their time, which that’s impossible for most people. So, it was a definite crazy balance trying to get them to be able to get what they needed and then me to be able to keep all of the commitments that I had already committed to. That was something that I had to let them know up front. Like, it’s my business. If I said I’m coming to do a show, I need to be able to do it. We can’t say ‘Oh, it’s okay for you to do the show,’ and then at the last minute say ‘Oh, well now you can’t, we need you to do this instead.” Which I think we were able to work out pretty well. But there were definitely some times where it kind of like — I had to give them that reminder of how things work in wrestling.
CW: Along the same lines, you already have an established name in the wrestling industry and also your modeling work. But you’re going to become a new kind of celebrity when the show premieres in January, and already so with the buildup and promotion for it. How do you expect things will change once the show starts airing.
BR: I honestly don’t expect things to change that much. Of course, like you’ve said, I’ve got a fanbase and that’s all great going into it. So, my biggest thing, though, that I want to do right now is make sure my fans and everything have all the info they need to be able to watch the show and see what they want to see and have fun with that. In the meantime, of course there’s going to be a new fanbase coming in, and that’s all great. I would love if — some of the new people who have never heard of me come in and start watching the show — I would love it they started to be interested in women’s wrestling as well. That, of course, is my perfect-world marriage of the two. But you never really know what you’re going to get as far as audience goes; who’s going to watch it, who’s going to connect. It’s just exciting, the prospect of new people coming across my work and seeing what they think.
CW: Your perfect-world scenario is the same as mine, that it’ll get new eyes on Women of Honor and the product. Speaking of Women of Honor, one big thing is that there’s no title to call their own, but the product itself is both popular and high-quality. In your opinion, is that a testament to the talent of yourself and other women on the roster, the production and booking, a little bit of both or something else?
BR: Since I’ve only been a part of Women of Honor for a short time, I’m going to speak to the girls that have been there for a while. Folks like Mandy Leon, Sumie [Sakai], Kelly Klein, those are the girls who really built this division and made it what it is today. And they have worked with nothing, basically, and then got it somewhere, and now are hopefully taking it other places. Then, at this point, here I am coming in and hoping to help. But I think it’s definitely a testament to their talent, to their abilities and just their ‘gung-ho-ness’ — wanting to work with this and make it something that can stand on its own. That was the most important thing to Women of Honor, to be able to stand on their own, not to kind of coattail off of Ring of Honor. They’re doing their own thing, they’re not part of the Ring of Honor show. Women of Honor is its own separate sect. So, I think they’ve done a great job. They definitely have contoured an audience, and we’ll see where we can take it from here.
CW: As you said, you’ve not been with Women of Honor that long, you made your debut in Concord back in July. You’ve only been wrestling with them live for a few months, so how much have you learned about that side of the business and the company since getting involved more heavily.
BR: Oh, man. You know, the best thing that I have been able to learn from Women of Honor and everything that they’re doing is just being able to adapt and being able to be confident in what you can do. I was a little intimidated running into Women of Honor because they’re very much known for ability. A lot of those girls have trained for many, many years and many of them have been to Japan to train. There’s a lot of talent there. So my fear going into this was, ‘Am I able to keep up here?’ It’s fast, there’s a lot going on. I’ve just been happy to have my matches and be confident in them and do everything that I’m able to do without having to do something crazy that I’m uncomfortable with. I think they are very adaptable, they can work with anyone, at any level, any ability and things still look really great. Also, attitude with that crew is fantastic. I’ve yet to see anyone have a sour attitude about anything there, which is excellent because, again, it’s a ground-roots operation. So, if they wanted to, they could, but I’ve seen nothing but the utmost professionalism from all of those girls.
CW: That certainly can help with your confidence. And you said your fear was being able to keep up in terms of your ability. Obviously you’re married to Cody [Rhodes], that has to help to some degree. Has he helped you with your confidence and in-ring technicality and stuff along the way.
BR: I’ll say one thing, and that is that being married to Cody does not help me in any way as far as confidence goes, because he’s a fantastic wrestler and he comes from a family of fantastic wrestlers. Here I am, a girl — the only girl in the bunch — and there’s all this lineage to try and keep up with and push the name along in a positive way. It’s a lot pressure. Of course, where it does come in handy is that, he’s an amazing wrestler. So, I’m able to get in the ring with him, I’m able to bounce ideas off of him and then things that I, of course, wouldn’t have available to me, I do because of him and because he loves wrestling so much. I’ve never had him say ‘Hey, hon’, I can’t go with you today, I can’t do this, I can’t help you train.’ Or if I want to learn something or I’m probably going to end up popping him in the face or something ridiculous, I’ve never heard him once say ‘Uh, maybe we shouldn’t do this today,’ or ‘Maybe I’m not the person to do this, someone else can show you.’ He’s always there and he will do whatever it takes to make me happy with what I’m learning. It’s great.
CW: That’s awesome. Now my final question: You’re not the first professional wrestler to appear on WAGS as a cast member as Barbie Blank [Kelly Kelly] was a cast member on the original series. By chance did you reach out to her, or did you learn anything from seeing her on the show about you’re going to handle it?
BR: No, actually. Barbie, actually, she was friends more so with Cody than me. I really don’t know Barbie very well. I was on my way in when she was on her way out. I feel like it would’ve been weird for me to reach out to her. I’m sure at some point we’ll run into each other. I think she and Cody even trained together at [Ohio Valley Wrestling], so they’ve known each other for a long time, which is cool. But, I guess if there’s anything I learned from Barbie and watching her on the show is, she, in my opinion, was herself, which is great. There are always going to be people who, I think, miss the mark because they try so hard to be something on a show like this, what they think other people expect them to be or whatever. I feel like the people who resonate the most are the one’s who are themselves, rather than trying to be somebody they’re not. And I think Barbie was herself on the show, which is why she’s had success with it.
WAGS Atlanta will premiere on E! Network on Jan. 3, 2018.