Shaq will wrestle in mixed tag match on ‘AEW Dynamite’

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Shaquille O’Neal is set to have his first pro wrestling match.

The 7-foot-1 NBA legend and current “Inside the NBA” analyst will take part in a mixed-tag match with his partner Jade Cargill against All Elite Wrestling stars Cody Rhodes and Red Velvet on the March 3 episode of “AEW Dynamite” on TNT, the promotion announced Wednesday.

O’Neal and the 6-foot-1 Rhodes traded challenges over the past week leading to the matching being made official.

“Cody Rhodes, you little punk,” he said. “You want to battle? You just name the time and date. I’ll be there. You little punk, with your blonde hair. You look like a little girl. You want some of the Shaq Attack, Name the place. Matter of fact, let’s do it March. How about that?”

Rhodes said on last week’s Dynamite that the original plan was for he and his wife Brandi to face O’Neal and Cargill, but the Rhodes announced in December they are expecting their first child. Brandi Rhodes has been off AEW television since then and Red Velvet, her former tag team partner, has stepped into the feud.

The last time O’Neal – a big wrestling fan — was in a ring was for the Andre “The Giant” Memorial battle royal at WWE’s WrestleMania in 2016. O’Neal, after signing his latest contract with TNT in August, said he’d like to have a match with Rhodes, one of AEW’s four executive vice presidents and son of the legendary Dusty Rhodes.

“I’d love to fight Cody,” O’Neal told The Athletic at the time. “Write it. Print it. Text it to him. Call AEW up and tell them.”

It appears O’Neal, 48, may have been training for this match at Rhodes’ Nightmare Factory wrestling school for months. Back in November, AEW wrestler Anthony Ogogo posted and later deleted a photo on this Twitter account of him and O’Neal at the Nightmare Factory.

O’Neal and Rhodes’ feud has been built slowly on screen going back to early November when Cargill, a former Division II women’s basketball player and fitness model turned wrestler, debuted on “Dynamite” and said she was aligned with the former Lakers and Heat star.

Her verbal assault on Rhodes, 35, that night prompted his wife Brandi to confront her. Cargill and Brandi Rhodes, AEW’s chief brand officer, had also been building a storyline feud. That included Cargill giving Brandi Rhodes an arm injury in storyline.

O’Neal appeared across from Brandi Rhodes in a Dec. 9 interview on “Dynamite.” When it ended he told her, “while your arm’s in a sling I think you should watch Jade. You should probably get some pointers from her.” The segment drew more than 1.2 million views. Cargill showed up during Cody Rhodes’ match two weeks ago on “Dynamite” and nearly cost him the win, forcing him to address the situation with Shaq last week.

O’Neal will not be the first NBA player to get involved in wrestling. Karl Malone and Dennis Rodman were involved in a WCW feud in 1998. Trail Blazers star Enes Kanter, then with the Celtics, won WWE’s 24/7 championship at Madison Square Garden in 2019.

Also booked for “Revolution” is the legendary Sting’s return to action. He will team with TNT champion Darby Allin against Brian Cage and Ricky Starks of Team Taz in a street fight.

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