AEW fans and WWE fans alike were of course shocked when Cody Rhodes debuted at WrestleMania 38 in Dallas, Texas. Of course rumors had been indeed running rampant for months prior, and since his departure from AEW—a company he helped found—but many still thought it all to be a ‘work,’ as it applies to the pro wrestling industry.
Of course it was not at all a ‘work’ and Cody Rhodes established himself as one of the greatest wrestlers in the world with a match that should definitely be considered 5 out of 5 stars in anyone’s book.
I know it deserves that grade for me, and it definitely lands at the top spot of the best 3 matches on that WrestleMania card (both nights), taking the top spot just over the Steve Austin vs. Kevin Owens bout and of course the Bianca Belair vs. Becky Lynch tour de force match for the ages.
But yes, after 6 years of working the independents, working in Japan, ROH, TNA/Impact Wrestling and helping start a company that is of course now considered WWE’s top competition, or at least another option for pro wrestling fans if you prefer (AEW), he has returned ‘home,’ as many in the industry have said.
Cody’s own legacy and his family’s legacy means a lot to him and as he has stated on WWE TV, getting hold of WWE’s major title(s) means a lot to him as well, and perhaps it’s on the horizon—such a possibility— and it is perhaps the real and true reason behind his AEW departure after all.
He went into just what the precise moment was when he knew he’d be leaving Tony Khan territory and re-enter the realm of McMahon, and on the grandest stage of them all, while speaking with the good people at Busted Open Radio. Here’s some of what he said:
“…I knew that it was going to and needed to happen for me was the Loews Hotel over by Rosemont, which is by Allstate Arena. Allstate, where WWE regularly runs for Chicago…But I looked at Brandi and I told her. And the last time I told her something like that was when I told her I was leaving WWE…
I just – I kind of had done it all in my mind. I was just sitting there at that little bar to the right side in a little corner booth, and I knew…I feel like for almost three years, I have been the best wrestler in the world and I define wrestler differently. I know some people – there’s work rate, there are promos, there’s hardcore – I know it’s all over the place, and everyone’s entitled to their own opinion…
And I don’t mean to be braggadocious in this sense, but I mean it because I’ve worked to be the best and in my mind, the best is capturing the imagination of the audience the longest and getting them the loudest whether their booing, whether their cheering, whatever it may be. But, with that in mind, it’s very for me to say, ‘hey, I’m the best wrestler in the world’, if I’m not wearing the big one. It’s very hard.”via Busted Open Radio /Wrestling Inc. (Transcription)
He has been doing a lot of press lately, and for good reason, as his return made a heck of a lot of noise. After all, Cody Rhodes left AEW for WWE! That’s huge in and of itself, dear readers. And although we’re all processing this at our own individual paces, let’s take a moment to appreciate the moment itself and notice something else that’s rather imperative: How great the ‘pro wrestling’ has gotten since his return to WWE; even The Miz was pushed to his limits in the match they had together on Raw, and that’s no knock on The Miz, as he has it in him for sure, but being in the ring with the likes of Cody Rhodes pushed him that much more to the brink of greatness.
Seth Rollins is already great, and to be given yet another match at Backlash featuring the two pitted against one another…well, the gifts just keep on coming, don’t they?
Notice as well that Cody has been using the term ‘pro wrestler’ quite a bit in his interviews since getting back on board with WWE. They like to think of themselves as ‘Sports Entertainers’, remember? So he’s definitely trying to push another narrative there, so pay close attention to that too.
And in the end though, for AEW fans, there’s a win in this as well, and if you look closely enough, you will see it too: It took an AEW guy who was once a WWE guy through and through for them to elevate their game in the end. Let that message sink in as well as you watch his next epic match, dear readers.