On January 19th, 2022, Cody Rhodes said goodbye to AEW, even if fans and the man himself didn’t quite realise it at the time.
Cody Rhodes had recently won the TNT Championship for a third time and was in the middle of a feud with Sammy Guevara. However, when he took to the ring, microphone in hand, he had much bigger targets in mind.
During the segment, Rhodes addressed not turning heel despite being booed, his contractual situation, took some jabs at WWE, pointed out that he was crashing through the so-called Forbidden Door before it was fashionable, and had actually gone out and done the things CM Punk named in his famous “pipe bomb” in 2011. Rhodes highlighted the fact that while Punk might have talked the talk, he was the one who walked the walk.
A week later Rhodes lost to Guevara in what turned out to be his final match for the promotion, and within a month he had officially left AEW altogether.
Spekaing to Sam Roberts on the NotSam Wrestling podcast, Rhodes admitted that even when he cut that promo he wasn’t sure he was going to leave. Although he wanted to make sure credit was given to the people who helped get AEW to where it was.
“I think it’s easy for me now to say ‘Oh, I definitely knew,’ but it wasn’t the case. I didn’t know. The last thing I did at AEW, no one really knows, the last thing I did was coach a match — and I wasn’t the best coach, I’m more of, ‘Let you do what you want to’ and then we talk about it after — with Ruby (Soho) and Nyla Rose. That was the last thing. I remember walking out the door, they did fine, it wasn’t anything to do with them. I remember thinking, ‘I think I’m leaving.’
That promo, I remember I mentioned it to Punk as well, ‘Hey, I think I’m going to say this,’ I’m not a fan of blindsiding anybody. Where we’re terrible at is social media. ‘My opponent just nuked me,’ then you nuke him back. Alright, no trust and we’re at the peak level of fervor. I look at it now and I call it the ‘exit interview.’
Maybe, selfishly, egotistically, I wanted to remind them, ‘I appreciate the company has changed, I do. Please know though, there is no company had these things not have happened.’ Other things had to happen; (Chris) Jericho had to do his stuff, Bucks had to do their stuff, Kenny (Omega) had to do stuff, (Jon) Moxley had to do stuff, he’s a big part of it too, I don’t give him credit enough. I just wanted to let them know. The other part was sincerely, this is being a heel, saying you’re not going to be a heel. It was just too meta,”
Reflecting on his non-heel turn, Rhodes reflected on the crowd throwing his weight belt back after he’d launched it into the audience. The American Nightmare reiterated that he had essentially turned, and was happy to lean into the negative reaction.
“I had fun with it, I did, even when the belt came back in the Target Center, it was perfect. Dax (Harwood) and those guys knew what to do, we leaned into it. I would always tell QT (Marshall) or Tony (Khan) or whoever was there, ‘I’m leaning in.’ I don’t know if anyone knew what that meant. I think that’s the story about everything at the end, ‘I don’t know if there’s a plan for this. This is chaos.’ Chaos, we did big numbers, one of the last Saturday specials did a killer number and we were doing great business, but chaos, you have to get the reigns on it at some point. Where is this going?
The ‘exit interview,’ selfishly, I wanted fans to know, ‘I love you guys so much, and I did all this, and if you have forgotten about it, I don’t think that’s cool.’ It’s the nature of it. Me, Matt (Jackson), and Nick (Jackson) talk about that all the time. It’s like people don’t remember. I’m of the fault that when I’m 80 years old, ‘He did do all this.’ It’s so odd because I was so mad at different journalists in how they discredited my dad, took ideas and took things away from him, and later he passed away, ‘He did all of this.’
As mad as I was, I felt in that moment, ‘it’s happening all over again and happening to me.’ There are too many egos in wrestling, including my own. I can’t take credit for the revolution, there were other people. Was I a big part of it? Sure,”
Do The Young Bucks Still Talk To Cody Rhodes?
One of the big questions following Rhodes’ departure was his relationship with fellow EVPs the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega.
Speaking at the premiere of his new WWE documentary Rhodes revealed that he remains on good terms with the Bucks and they speak regularly.
H/t to Fightful