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HomeSportsCody Rhodes can rewrite his WWE legacy after jaw-dropping AEW departure

Cody Rhodes can rewrite his WWE legacy after jaw-dropping AEW departure


There was always a chance this could happen – it was just hard to admit it.

Cody and Brandi Rhodes stunned the pro wrestling world Tuesday with the announcement they will be leaving All Elite Wrestling. Fightful Select reports Cody will be signing with WWE in the near future in what would be a massive homecoming for him.

This was the outcome that was always out there once Cody confirmed reports he was working without a contract, but on a handshake deal in AEW recently. He and AEW were unable to agree on a new contract after six weeks, according to the Wrestling Observer. But there was still that feeling that he would never leave the company he helped build over the last three-plus years as one of its four executive vice presidents with Brandi as its chief brand officer. Cody was the public face and main mouthpiece for AEW at its launch and he touted it would bring a “revolution” to pro wrestling. It did, and then some, by establishing the first true second brand since WCW and real competition for WWE.

“I have loved my time at AEW,” Cody wrote in an Instagram post. “Amazing locker room. Amazing fans. Amazing people. The ‘revolution’ was indeed televised, and I’ve been incredibly lucky to be part of that.”

Now it’s time for Cody Rhodes to move on – no matter how painful that may be for wrestling fans to admit. He has nothing left to prove in AEW and has everything to prove should he indeed go back to WWE where he spent the first 10 years of his career and never made it past the middle of the card.

In AEW, president Tony Khan has taken over the promotion of the company in the media as well as the booking. In May of 2021 there were reports Cody and the other executive vice presidents, Kenny Omega and Matt and Nick Jackson, weren’t getting along. He had also backed himself into a corner creatively by losing to Chris Jericho at “Full Gear” in 2019 with the stipulation he could never challenge for the AEW World Championship if he did – and credit to him for sticking to it. Cody was the first and only three-time TNT champion and had two of the company’s most memorable matches against his brother Dustin and his dog collar match with Brodie Lee.

“l also need to thank Nick and Matt Jackson (these two, whether they know it or not, took an undesired and not confident lil’ cub and gifted me the confidence to become a leader of the pack), Kenneth Omega, Chris Jericho, Chicken…we started the fire,” Rhodes wrote of his friends and brother Dustin.

But there were only so many times he could win the TNT championship and fan reaction to his on-screen persona has soured because of the perception that all he did was continue to put himself over and win. He was often showered with boos despite portraying a babyface. His refusal to turn heel made it seem impossible to break that feeling with the fans, leaving him a little boxed in creatively after a few miscues – with Anthony Ogogo and QT Marshall.

Brandi Rhodes has left AEW with her husband Cody Rhodes.
Brandi Rhodes has left AEW with her husband Cody Rhodes.
AEW

And while Cody did win plenty, he was actually very giving to the younger and incoming talent. He put over Darby Allin and Lee when they were both ready to break out. The TNT championship open challenges opened the door for Eddie Kingston and Ricky Starks to join AEW and his and Brandi’s program with Shaquille O’Neal allowed current undefeated TBS champion Jade Cargill to debut with the most eyes possible on her. He put Malakai Black over huge in Black’s debut match in AEW.

Fittingly, Cody’s final outing in an AEW ring was him putting over Sammy Guevara in a TNT title ladder match Jan. 26 on “AEW Dynamite.” The two were in the first-ever match on AEW’s flagship show. And in a way, he is still helping the other talent because should one of them choose to leave for the WWE at some point – something MJF has teased — it may be looked at with less anger because he has already paved the way.

Cody has never been afraid to bet on himself – like he did when he asked for his release from WWE in 2016 only to turn himself into one of pro wrestling’s biggest stars beginning in Ring of Honor and New Japan. Like he did when he and the Young Bucks put on the massively successful and risky “All In” pay-per-view in 2018 that opened the door for AEW to happen. He’s just doing that again.

Cody Rhodes can change his WWE legacy if he returns there.
Cody Rhodes can change his WWE legacy if he returns there.
AEW

Should he return to WWE, he does so at the perfect time with the chance to accomplish everything he didn’t in his first run. WWE is in need of fresh main event stars because they – outside maybe Bobby Lashley – continue to push down the ones they do create. (See Big E). Who wouldn’t want to see Cody versus, A.J. Styles, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and Brock Lesnar among others? (Let’s hope they go that route instead of Cody and Brandi vs. The Miz and Maryse.) All of it adds a freshness to Cody that he was never going to get again in AEW, unless he was going to turn heel.

And do you really think Cody wanted his WWE legacy to be Stardust? A return would give him a chance to carve a unique piece of wrestling history for himself should he be the first big star to leave AEW and become a multi-time WWE world champion. Under the circumstances, he could be on WWE as soon as possible and even perform at this year’s WrestleMania.

And while doing so, fans can’t say he’s booking himself into that spot. Also, all of the roster cuts have left the WWE women’s division in need of fresh faces, leaving a place for Brandi – who fostered important partnerships with KultureCity and the American Heart Association as an AEW executive — to slide in as heel should she get and want the opportunity.

With the arrival of their daughter Liberty in June, Cody and Brandi have the potential for a much simpler existence in WWE sans the non-wrestling duties they had in AEW. Cody was also a judge on TBS’s “Go-Big Show” and he and his wife had a reality series “Rhodes to the Top” on TNT. It’s unknown what will happen to their roles in those shows, but there is the chance of them having much less on their plate as new parents.

This was the Cody Rhodes possibility that was always out there, but few wanted to believe he would actually do it. It looks like he and Brandi have taken that path and they are not betraying AEW by doing so. Heck, they could always go back. But if anyone has proven what betting on ourselves can bring it’s Cody Rhodes. He’s doing it again and it may be for the best.





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