As AEW Heels passes its one year anniversary, there has been a lot to celebrate. With an ever growing and enthusiastic membership, Heels’ monthly Zoom events have become a beacon of camaraderie, empowerment, and joy. Now, AEW’s Chief Brand Officer Brandi Rhodes seeks to take AEW Heels to new heights as AEW takes to the road and takes its flagship shows around the country. I spoke with Brandi about the success of AEW Heels, the upcoming premiere of TNT’s Rhodes To The Top, her journey into motherhood, and a tease to a potential return to AEW Dynamite.
Celebrating AEW Heels
AEW Heels has grown into an incredible community of strong, empowered, and insightful women. Did you have any idea when you started AEW Heels that it would grow into this strong and closely connected community?
I had no idea what was going to happen, but I did know there was a need for it. When you sit back and watch the wrestling community, you see these pockets begin to form of passionate fans who are excited to talk about things. I wanted to create a space for people to flourish together, expand their thinking, and have a lot of fun. That’s the great thing about a community like this, you can get together and explore in the fun. You don’t want to do that by yourself. I could watch a Disney movie by myself and have a good time, but if I go to Disneyland with like minded people it’s a completely different experience.
Beginning in August of 2020, Heels has featured monthly Zoom events with a variety of opportunities for women to connect as wrestling fans and professionals. Opening with dance parties, zoom galleries, wrestler Q&As, makeup and gear tutorials, and more, there is a lot of fun to be had in AEW Heels. Speaking of Brandi’s favorite moments over the first year of Heels, she had this to say.
The first Zoom event is probably always going to be my favorite. As I was going around, clicking through and seeing all the people arrive, I got to see everything that was happening. So many people were crying happy tears, that was just the biggest nod that this was the right thing to do.
AEW Heels, for many of its members, has become a place of excitement, engagement, and an opportunity to grow. Regularly featuring workshops from women in leadership, centered around health, fitness, mental health, and empowerment in the workplace. When asked about the feedback she has gotten from members on these programs, Brandi had this to say.
The feedback from Heels members has been incredible. Being on Heels, we’re all open to being able to communicate with one another. People can send me an email as a member, and I’ll get so many messages from people saying things like, ‘I don’t want to bother you, but I just want to say I had such a great time, thank you so much.’
AEW Heels is a form of social media, and with social media, you don’t necessarily know what you’re going to get when it comes to feedback. So, I took a deep breath and dove into reading those messages after that first event. The messages were all so great and so positive, it actually moved me to tears. You’ll see in Rhodes To The Top, I don’t cry often. They tried so many times to get that reaction, but if you want me to do it, it’s never going to happen. But when I looked at those messages filled with so much happiness and positivity, it moved me to tears.
As the COVID Pandemic loomed around the world in 2020, AEW Heels became a welcome respite for people to virtually come together during a period of extended isolation. While this caused Brandi to adapt her goals from in-person events to virtual ones over Zoom, she is looking forward to hosting live events as AEW begins to tour the country with AEW Dynamite and AEW Rampage.
In addition to this, AEW Heels has begun offering free meet and greets for Heels members at each show. In North Carolina, Heels members received a meet and greet with Leva Bates, and in Pittsburgh, they’ll be able to meet Britt Baker for free after showing proof of their Heels membership.
We started this in North Carolina, and this is something we’d like to continue to offer in every city we visit. So far, it’s been very easy for Heels members to show proof of membership, get their meet and greet, and have a great time.
We’re also looking to do our first in person event with AEW Heels at All Out in Chicago. I know that Heels members have created their own meetups amongst themselves, which I think is wonderful, and we encourage people to do that if they want to. But it’s about time for us to kick off our live events, and we’ll have one at All Out Weekend.
We really want to focus on more in-person events, as AEW heads out on tour. Initially, we started with Zoom due to the pandemic, and this became a kind of placeholder for live events, until we could begin to gather in person again. Now that we’re here, we want to engage in that as much as possible. But a lot of our members love the Zoom atmosphere too, so we’re definitely going to keep that going.
Members are renewing, memberships are continuing to grow, and we’re encouraging members to tell their friends and anyone who loves wrestling to come join us. Pretty much everyone who’s come into the fold, wants to stay, which is great. We want to continue to grow and continue to make a positive impact with this women’s community in AEW Heels.
From the outset, giving back to the community has been a top priority for Brandi Rhodes. The first partnership she developed with AEW was with Kulture City, which provides sensory bags and noise cancelling rooms, so people can enjoy AEW events without becoming overloaded with sensory stimulation. Since then, Cody and Brandi both have embarked on a spirit of philanthropy and charitable giving within AEW. AEW Heels has partnered with PAWS Chicago, Kulture City, and Baby2Baby, while the AEW Community program work with communities they visit on tour, as they figure out how to best serve those in need.
With AEW Heels, we just got off the phone with another fantastic organization that we’ll be working with in September. We’re constantly looking to find areas in the community where we can help. This will always be paramount with Heels, everyone has been so wondering in wanting to give, or lend a helping hand, or by spreading the word when they may not be in a position to give. All of that is so helpful and so important, and will continue to be a part of what we do at AEW Heels.
With regards to AEW Community, the word is starting to travel that AEW is open for business with community outreach. We have an email with AEW Community where people can reach out with different organizations we can work with. Our goal with AEW Community is that, with every market we hit, we try to make a difference when we come to town. That has been a fun and really cool challenge for others on the roster who are wanting to help out, as they chime in with different ideas for each city, and so many people have stepped up and used their platforms in a positive way. In my opinion, that’s something you should do if you’re in a position where you can help others. Why not lend a helping hand?
Embarking on a journey of motherhood
Even during her pregnancy, Brandi Rhodes has never missed an event, and indeed, unbeknownst to her at the time, she even went into labor during a Heels call. Brandi spoke about how surreal that experience was, and shed light on the moments that led up to the birth of her daughter, Liberty Iris.
I went into labor on a Heels call, which is pretty crazy. I was filming for Rhodes To The Top that day, and I had considerably slowed down at the end of pregnancy. One of the producers had just had a baby with his wife two weeks prior. So he was watching me, and kept stopping the cameras saying, ‘Hey Brandi, I need to talk to you, are you okay?’ and I kept brushing it off as everything was normal.
So, I had this producer who was sweating all day, thinking this woman’s in labor, and I can’t get her to go to the hospital. To add insult to injury, I decided to do the Heels call too. He was like, ‘You’re not going to do it, are you?’ I said, ‘Absolutely, I’m going to go upstairs and change, and in a half an hour, I’m going to just do it.’
I’m sure a lot of this will be in Rhodes to the Top, as we just kept filming. I thought it was funny, I’m looking at this producer who’s having a panic attack, but I’m fine! The reality was, I was not fine. I was definitely and totally in labor.
Cody was at the Nightmare Factory, and we had to call him back because the nurse said I was going in. We thought it might be another false alarm, but in the case that it wasn’t, we wanted to be sure that he could be there. I was hooked up to the machine for about 20 minutes before the nurse told me I was in active labor. Then, my entire life changed.
Brandi’s life changed in an instant with the birth of her daughter, Liberty Iris. As she welcomed her daughter to the world with loving arms, she often pauses to reflect on the love she has for her little girl.
It has been incredible. This is so much more and so different from what you expect and try to prepare for. Nothing in the world prepares you for the moment that you hear your child cry for the first time. You start a new world all over again. Having a baby has changed me so much in so many ways.
I get caught up in this world with her, where she’s cooing, I’m in love, and then I get a message that I’m supposed to be on a call. I’ve been doing this for two years, but with a baby, your priorities shift, and your child becomes everything. I’m working on finding that balance, and I’m so lucky to have Leva Bates in my life, to help keep me on track with what I’m doing and where I’m going.
As a new mother, Brandi Rhodes talked about juggling the responsibilities of being Chief Brand Officer of All Elite Wrestling, a professional wrestler, a philanthropist, a community leader, and founder of AEW Heels, all while being a working mom.
It’s definitely challenging, and I see things through a different lens now. I had always thought I could never be a stay at home mom. Kudos to those who do it, but I never thought that would be me. After having a baby though, I could definitely see myself doing that. I have plenty of moments that I’m treasuring and relishing in now.
At the end of the day, there are two things that I want to keep reminding myself. I wanted to be a working mom for her, just as my mom was a working mom for me. I want to show her that it’s possible, that if this is your choice, then you can go ahead and do that. I always thought my mom was a rockstar, because she had so many things that she was balancing, and she would do it with such class and style, and I thought it was amazing. I want her to look back and think it was pretty cool that I kept my passion, and I kept rockin’ and rollin’.
Sometimes I look at her and I think, no. I don’t want to leave, I don’t want anyone else to touch her, I just want to be here, with her, for eternity. But she is going to grow up too, and when she does, hopefully she’ll appreciate, like I did with my mom, all of these other things that I have going on.
Rhodes To The Top
While Brandi Rhodes is accustomed to life in the spotlight within the world of wrestling, this has taken on a whole new meaning with the show Rhodes To The Top. Here, Brandi and Cody both star in TNT’s new reality series, focused on the lives of these two professional wrestling superstars. Covering everything from All Elite Wrestling, life at home, and the journey to parenthood, Rhodes To The Top, premiering on TNT on September 29th, will offer a window into the lives of the Rhodes family, as never seen before.
When we first started Rhodes To The Top, I was not pregnant, nor did I have any aspirations to become pregnant. We found out, and I said okay, I’m going to fully dive in on this, but here’s the reality. I’m probably only going to be pregnant once in my life, and I’m not going to curb anything for anyone, what you see is what you get. And they got it a lot! I remember my grandmother saying things as she got older. I’d be like, ‘grandma you can’t say that’, and she’d say, ‘yes I can, I’m 86.’ So I turned into my grandmother, but with the answer of ‘I’m pregnant’.
Cody would say ‘Brandi please, stop swearing’, or, ‘you don’t have to say that’, and I’d be like, ‘yes I can, because I’m pregnant’. Or anything I was in opposition of, I’m not doing that because I’m pregnant.
There were a couple of really great meltdowns, and I really hope they make it on the show. I’m sure there are going to be a lot of women who can identify with being pregnant in the summer, and something goes terribly wrong, and people look at you. You just have this massive meltdown. You’re as big as a house, you’re sweating all the time and you don’t know why, and it’s hard for people to take you seriously. So yeah, I had a couple of good ones, and hopefully they make it to Rhodes To The Top.
I think a lot of people are going to be very surprised with my mouth. My mouth kicked up to 12/10 with my pregnancy. I got really wild. It’s not really representive of me as I am now, but we got away with it at the time. I don’t think I’ll be able to get away with it anymore, but it was fun. Looking at the teasers, I don’t think they cut away a lot of that. So we’re gonna have a lot of good (censored) F Bombs, and I was pleasantly surprised that they let it be pretty authentic.
Will we see Brandi Rhodes returning to AEW Dynamite?
As AEW begins to embark on nationwide tours, things have begun ramping up with championships, rivalries, and teases for the future. Recently, Brandi posted a photo of herself walking out on AEW Dynamite, which resulted in several fans asking if we might see her returning to the ring. This, coupled with Brandi’s responses to Red Velvet, has many of us wondering if we may see her again soon.
You know, there are a lot of things to consider. On one hand, you have Red Velvet, who has this amazing title match coming up. She’s obviously a good friend of mine, and I’ve been calling her my partner for a long time. She got ambushed, and no one came out to help her. I wanted to reach out on Twitter, because I was thinking, ‘gosh, no one came to help Red out there, maybe I need to be around more’. She has this incredible opportunity, she’s put in the work, and I think she’d make an incredible champion. But, I don’t know if that will happen if she doesn’t have help. So I’ll just leave it at that.
AEW Heels is a paid membership ($49.99/yr) program for women to come together around wrestling, positivity, and fun. Perks include monthly zoom events, professional workshops from women in leadership, makeup and gear tutorials from AEW Glam, game nights with active participation, spotlight fan Q&As with Brandi, themed parties, in person events, free meet and greets, discounts and presales, and more. Find out more at All Elite Heels.
Rhodes To The Top is a TNT reality show starring Cody and Brandi Rhodes of All Elite Wrestling. It will premiere on TNT on September 29th, 2021.
AEW Community has a set mission to do something positive in every community AEW visits. To contact them to help identify the best charities and partners in your city, please send an email to: [email protected]