AEW News

Cody Rhodes Said To Have Become “A Liability” Ahead Of AEW Exit

Cody Rhodes & Tony Khan

Ahead of his departure from AEW, Cody Rhodes had reportedly become a liability amid suggestions he wanted to be paid similar sums to Bryan Danielson and CM Punk.

Throughout 2021 in particular the AEW roster changed significantly. The company signed a number of new stars, including huge names such as Bryan Danielson and CM Punk.

Upon their arrival the former WWE Superstars were handed substantial contracts making them among the top, if not the top, earners in the company. This naturally meant that previous ‘top earners’ such as Cody Rhodes slid down the financial pecking order.

It has now been reported that this perceived financial disparity played a role in the former TNT Champion leaving AEW. In simple terms, Rhodes asked for more money that AEW President Tony Khan was willing to spend.

The report from Wade Keller of PWTorch, also suggests that Rhodes had become a liability backstage, something Khan put up with rather than embraced while he was still a draw for the company.

“It’s weird, because if it was nine months ago…Tony might have signed him for what Cody was asking for, or at least negotiated in good faith to a reasonable compromise. But Cody became a bit of a liability, Tony publicly would say, and he told me [that] ‘Cody still drives numbers, so I’m okay.’ But that’s not the biggest compliment.

It’s not like, ‘Oh, I love Cody, and we’re on the same page.’ I was just like, well, you know, the undercurrent of what he said was, ‘yeah, he’s a headache, and every segment is a car wreck, but he’s still drawing numbers. So I guess I’m okay with it for now?’ Like, that’s how I read. — I kind of read between the lines on his choice of wording.

I think the segment with Brandi two weeks ago did not help, didn’t belong on TV. It was just a disaster. But there’s been a lot going on with Cody. Pre pandemic, Cody was at the forefront of production meetings and, and really involved…”

Continuing on, Keller said that despite Rhodes wanting a contract similar to those given to Danielson and Punk, he had also lost some of his leverage with the company when they signed. With more top stars now on the roster, Rhodes went from being one of few to one of many.

“But Cody wanted to be a superstar, and AEW signing big money contracts, especially with Bryan Danielson and CM Punk, changed the dynamic to a degree with Cody. And I’m not saying this wouldn’t have happened if that didn’t happen.

But Cody knew and Tony knew that Cody became expendable. You know, he went from a clear essential top tier guy, top four talent in the company. And you know, Cody was fine obviously with Moxley being signed, and with Jericho being signed. Jericho was a huge boon to the AEW brand at the beginning. And Moxley was a great acquisition and disgruntled with WWE and not really a threat to Cody, because he was just so different than Cody, even if they’re not too far off in age.

But Danielson and Punk and then Adam Cole to a lesser extent, changed things certainly more than Malakai Black or Miro or Christian changed things. And it did give Tony a sense of ‘I have enough top guys and then young guys on the rise’ that it took some leverage away from Cody, in terms of ‘you need me pay me’ and there’s only so much salary cap room that Tony has to spread around. And he had the good fortune to have Punk and Bryan Danielson and Adam Cole become available to him, but they were expensive.

Cody was no longer a top paid guy. And my understanding is he wanted to be and to a degree that just wasn’t seen by Tony as what he was worth to him in the current landscape. But it’s complicated and there’s not a single factor that plays into this because Cody might have been worth it if he weren’t getting booed and he wasn’t the subject of ridicule online and in buildings and frankly, behind the scenes in various ways.”

The report adds that Cody Rhodes had pulled himself away from the AEW locker room by having his own private bus and wasn’t seen as open as some of the company’s other established names. Although he was open to hearing ideas and offered advice when asked.

The same report later explained that WWE have major plans for Rhodes should he, as expected, decide to return to the company where he began his career.

H/t to wrestlingnews.co for the transcription.