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In The Aftermath Of Cody Rhodes’ AEW Departure—What Went Down?—What’s Next For The Son Of Dusty Rhodes?

Dare I say it: I never thought this day would come. I have to be honest. I’ve always been honest with you, dear readers, and I must continue doing so moving forward. I actually thought that Cody Rhodes would stick with AEW for the long haul. After all, he was a founding member and one of the VPs of the company. He held many roles over there, and for it to end like this is still a shock.

Yes, even after a day of the news being out there. My thoughts still gravitate towards this piece of news as I go through the motions of my writing day, and although I wrote a piece just yesterday about the disseverment of Cody Rhodes from AEW, so much more news has come out regarding what went down and what’s next for the son of the legendary Dusty Rhodes.

According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer, Rhodes had been trying to negotiate a deal with Tony Khan for a new contract, but both parties involved—Khan and Rhodes—never arrived to said deal; at least one they could both agree to.

via wrestleview.com

Meltzer went further to state that it was very possible that the rumors of Rhodes returning to WWE were certainly a way that this might all go, and likely indeed, but he did not state that this was a certainty. Rhodes did confirm his departure finally in a statement. Here’s some of what he said:

“I have loved my time at AEW. Amazing locker room, amazing fans, amazing people. The ‘revolution’ was indeed televised, and I’ve been incredibly lucky to be part of that. First, I want to thank Tony Khan. He’s taken the baton and run with it, and it was an honor to work for him and to know him on a personal level. He’s a beautiful soul…

Obviously need to thank my incredible wife and the mother of my baby girl, Brandi, for all of her love and support throughout this journey together and the amazing relationships she fostered with Kulture City and the American Heart Association…

I also need to thank Nick and Matt Jackson (these two, whether they know it or not, took an undesired and not confident lir cub and gifted me the confidence to become a leader of the pack), Kenneth Omega, Chris Jericho, Chicken…we started the fire…

 I must thank all my kiddos… MJF, Jade, Sammy, Darby, Lee, Ricky, Tom, The Gunns, Brock, Velvet, Nyla, Aubrey, Turner, Vanilla, Solo, Spears, Julia, Anna, Will, Wardlow, Sonny, Fuego 1 and of course, -1. While we’re at it, give Jade the Codyvator…through sweat, blood, tears, literal fire, and all that…I left it all on the mat…

Everything pales in comparison to the final contribution I was empowered to lead at the company, the community outreach team…I am confident Amanda Huber will lead the department with style. I’m so proud of my creations and contributions and the items I supported or collaborated on with such wonderful professionals.”

via Cody Rhodes on Twitter
via Cody Rhodes /Twitter

Tony Khan also made a statement following the initial reaction to the shocking news waned a tad. He thanked them and noted that Brandi and Cody both were “integral to the launch of All Elite Wrestling.”

Now, rumors of a WWE return have indeed grown since news of his departure broke, and really, even before that. So many speculated online that Cody would have been an entrant in the Royal Rumble at WWE, and when that did not come to pass, many were secure in perhaps feeling like Cody would stick with AEW, despite the fact that he was working without a contract since December 31st, according to previous reports; which is perhaps why this sudden development came as such a shock to many, this writer included.

Some in the industry have even been so bold to make statements making a Cody to WWE return a sure thing. Wade Keller stated on a PWTorchVIP show, that not only would Cody be returning to WWE, but he would be getting a massive push to boot. Here’s some of what he said:

“Cody and WWE haven’t confirmed it but Cody is going to WWE and he’s going to get a big push. Vince McMahon is going to treat this as a big deal. Everybody I talked to thinks Vince loves the idea of acquiring a co-founder and EVP and, you know, main event wrestler. He just held their secondary singles title not that long ago, and having him show up on WWE TV is something that Vince is very interested in taking advantage of and making money on it. It could even be a situation where Cody is in a major match at WrestleMania…

I literally had four-plus hours of conversations before recording this with people and I’m sure there’s more that I’ll get into in coming days and on different podcasts about the situation with Cody. But I fully expect Cody to be on WrestleMania either as a wrestler or making his first appearance. I don’t know if they can hold back on putting him on TV so I could even see him appearing on Raw or SmackDown next week…I wouldn’t be shocked if there’s even some augmentation to the booking plans for WrestleMania perhaps related to the Elimination Chamber in order to set the stage for Cody to do something really big at WrestleMania…”

via Wade Keller / wrestlingnews.co (Transcription)

This does of course make sense, but at this point, perhaps this is all conjecture. But perhaps not.

I definitely see Vince McMahon suddenly seeing value in Cody Rhodes…a value he did not see prior to 2016. Cody is bigger, in physical form and in name, and we know how much Vince likes the bigger guys; he has accomplished many things in the indie circuit (Vince knows that a massive portion of the audience respect that), and all in all it looks damn good for Vince to finally take someone from the other team, and a founding member to boot!

via ROH /YouTube

Usually, it has been the other way around…it has been the norm for AEW to take ex-WWE stars and offer them contracts, leading to epic surprise debuts that the AEW audience has quite obviously adored and appreciated, but there have been others taken from AEW before—namely Fallon Henley, who worked in AEW in 2020-2021 and is now at NXT—but this is certainly the biggest name to be taken from AEW thus far if it ever does happen in actuality.

In the aforementioned Dave Meltzer piece (link above), Meltzer does state that the creative freedom that Cody enjoyed in AEW may be in peril if he goes back to WWE, which is something Cody sure complained about based on his time in WWE, but if Vince sees Cody Rhodes as a commodity and one that can headline marquee matches and even carry the Universal Championship down the line, then there’s no saying what creative freedom Vince is willing to allow.

via Reddit

This would be good for Cody, dare I say it…he finally showing Vince and Triple H his worth, which is a lot in this writer’s opinion, but in the end, this is better for Vince McMahon in the long run, and Vince surely knows that.

It will be very interesting to see if and when Cody shows up in WWE and in what capacity. We just hope for his sake that it doesn’t end up like Jericho’s last run within the confines of that company and more the way he envisions it going should he decide to sign with WWE. After all, we have him partly to thank for AEW, and we wish him well.

NEXT: Cody Rhodes Leaves AEW Amidst WWE Return Speculation—Josh Alexander’s Impact Contract & Visa Expire

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