Cody Rhodes has bid AEW adieu.
It’s simple, really.
Cody was pushed to the moon at the start but as the WWE released talents come in, his screen time was pushed out. It didn’t help that apart from the MJF and the Malakai Black storyline, Cody just didn’t have meaningful feuds.
The thing I hate about AEW and the thing I like about WWE is that they do their feuds where it makes sense.
I know, AEW delivers pay-per-view or premium event matches on a consistent basis in their weekly programs but that’s the thing. The first CM Punk versus MJF or the first Adam Page versus Bryan Danielson match should have been main eventing a big event. Yes, sometimes AEW calls their shows with call names like Beach Break but unless these names are going to be annual events, it’s hard to make these matches within their historical canon.
When you check out AEW, the best events they have are Revolution, Double or Nothing, All Out, and Full Gear. No offense to the people involved but the 2021 main events a shitty firework ending between Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley, an underwhelming Kenny Omega and Christian Cage match, another underwhelming match in The Inner Circle versus The Pinnacle, and well… the boss battle between Omega and Adam Page.
The TV events are better than your Big Four PPVs?
And upon counting, AEW had 13 special events in 2021. WWE had 17 premium live events in 2021 and five of them are NXT-branded events. Curiously, NXT have four special TV events in 2021 that mostly used the WCW events. I know WWE has been hella shitty as of late but you are trying to put their four premium live events with the WWE/NXT main events that have a smorgasbord of awesomeness like the 2021 Men’s Royal Rumble match or Wrestlemania’s Sasha Banks versus Bianca Belair and Roman Reigns versus Edge versus Daniel Bryan match or the Fatal 5-way NXT Championship match or Reigns versus John Cena on Summer Slam or Reigns versus Edge in Money in the Bank!
Yes, if you have a big board of hits and misses, there’s also a chance that the more entries you put there… the more chances you’ll win.
Returning to Cody, the former AEW exec just main-evented three special TV events in 2021. Malakai Black and Sami Guevara were big deals but I don’t know why Cody main-evented with Ethan Page. It feels like Rhodes is inside a bubble in which his friends are ignoring him. The fans have lost interest in his shtick and with Tony Khan relying on shock debuts, dream matches with almost zero builds, and disregarding the PPV historical canon in favor of weekly episodic matches, I guess it makes sense for Cody to look for other opportunities elsewhere.
While they have yet to say that he is WWE-bound, it would be awesome if he’s going in that direction.
With the releases, WWE made the indy scene and their competitors flourish. Inasmuch as I want Keith Lee to flourish in AEW, I am beginning to think that Kyle O’Reilly will be misused in the same company. With that said, WWE messed up their roster, and their plan to make their developmental in the same league as their 2003 rookie class is pretty much two to three years away. So far, Bron Breakker and Grayson Waller are standing out with the remnants of NXT 1.0 babysitting the rest of the roster.
This makes the main event shows in need of depth and while they can always elevate some of the NXT 1.0 guys, having a star like Cody Rhodes is going to make things better. It’s hard to ignore the star power he amassed in his time away from the company especially since he can work as a character and as an actual normal person. He also has important ties the company needs like The NXT Dusty Cup and his talent history. Unlike most NXT indy darlings, Cody learned the WWE style of doing things and not acting flippy in matches is going to make his matches watchable. Also, having strings pulled can also tone down his dramatics.
In short, having Rhodes here is going to be beneficial for both parties.
Now Rhodes can fall down to the midcard – it’s a given. He can also score a high midcard spot like what happened with Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley upon their WWE returns and then get launched to the moon when they get the nod from Vince McMahon. Again, Vince knows Cody and knows what he can do. Cody is also 36 years old – the same age as Roman Reigns. WWE can treat Cody as so-so but you can’t discount the fact that he can be the first AEW champ to win a WWE championship… at least the first this has happened in which the AEW title came first.
And at the moment, Rhodes won an unnecessary gimmick match with the aide of his wife and Brandi has been fighting his battles against the other people in front of people with Dustin Rhodes and Arn Anderson helping her instead of him.
This move is going to happen. The only way Rhodes would leave a steady job is by moving to a more lucrative one. Rhodes and Brandi Rhodes can be positioned in the way Karrion Kross and Scarlet Bordeaux were positioned in NXT… and they will have the creative control to nix any helmet or crappy headgear and facepaint they could smooth talk on the couple.
Although thinking about it, a helmet could hide his neck tattoo?
But more than the high reward of returning, I guess this is more of maximizing his opportunities. Rhodes has been pushed to crappy storylines because of what happened to his spot in the card and he can’t unnecessarily set himself on fire, beg to everyone that he’s a face, and move to feuds with former WWE stars that are still in limbo in AEW like Andrade, Black, Miro, and when they had Brodie Lee on their roster. It can also mean that AEW is bringing in more ex-WWE stars into their fold which makes their upper midcard scene a lot more troubling. The entry of the former Bray Wyatt or the former Braun Strowman or the former Kross could push him back further. Not to mention, Johnny Gargano and the former Isaiah "Swerve" Scott are also in free-agent limbo.
Just imagine the pop he’ll receive once they see him as a surprise entrant of whatever battle royal or gimmick match to fill out the two-day Wrestlemania event.
Hopefully, he gets creative control... to never become like this again.