Cody Rhodes has compared being booed in AEW to Woody being cast aside after the arrival of Buzz Lightyear in the first Toy Story movie.
Cody Rhodes has become part of the fabric of AEW after helping form the promotion alongside The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega. The American Nightmare was initially heavily featured on AEW television challenging for the World Championship before winning the TNT Title.
In more recent times Cody Rhodes has remained away from the AEW World Championship picture while also embarking on numerous ventures outside of the ring. Most recently his own scripted reality show alongside his wife Brandi, Rhodes To The Top.
However, while Cody Rhodes was firmly a fan favourite during AEW’s early days The American Nightmare is now regularly greeted by a much more mixed reception.
Appearing on Busted Open Radio, Rhodes addressed the current reaction to his character and where he sees it going in the future. The former TNT Champion began by saying if fans have paid to come to a show, they can react however they see fit.
“I’m of the outlook that if you pay your money to attend the show if you give us your attention to watch the show, you do whatever you want. I think our competition in the wrestling space, one of the things that has hurt them is their inability to hear. If you’re a wrestler in the ring, you can hear and if you don’t hear [reactions], you’re doing yourself a disservice. You’re doing the whole company a disservice, you’re doing the match you’re in a disservice. I can hear but I also play chess, not checkers.”
Expanding further, Rhodes explained that he wants to do something new with his character, rather than rely on what may have worked in the past.
“So I think it’s fun to speculate and there’s so much that we’ve seen in the past, “That’s how this went and that’s how this could go.” The challenge I’m facing in the direction I’m going is something that has never been done in wrestling before.
There’s tons of just old plays that we could run here, ‘Oh, kick this guy in the balls and abuse my EVP power.’ Very soap opera bullshit. I don’t mean to say that harsh, but the challenge for me now is to go in a direction that perhaps no wrestler has gone before. I don’t come out of either tunnel, if that’s probably the best way to put it, and I’m looking forward to it as the most fun I’ve ever had in my career has been navigating some of these new spaces.
For example, in New York, we had 25,000 people and that reaction’s a little different. Last week, I’m in the concourse doing a book drive for community outreach and it’s the opposite of that reaction in Philly. That beautiful feeling of, ‘Alright, these are my people,’ depends [on the setting]. Some places I go, they’ll be my people. Other places I go, they won’t, but that’s your right as the fan to do what you want.”
In numerous interviews Rhodes has repeatedly said that he will not turn heel, despite his recent mixed reactions.
The second generation went on to admit that the boos do have an effect on him, making the unlikely comparison between himself and Woody in Toy Story one.
“Woody was having a hell of a time. He was having a great time. He was getting played with every day. He was the number one toy. Buzz Lightyear shows up, Woody gets thrown in the toy box. If you’re wondering how I feel, take a peek at how Woody felt in the very first Toy Story because that, to a degree, has been my role lately.
However, with that said in my pettiness aside, I have been doing this since I was 15 years old and that education is invaluable in terms of me not panicking, and in terms of also me enjoying this moment. I’ve never had a run like this in my career where everything is happening at once personally and professionally. I want to ride the wave. I want to look back at it and enjoy it. But yes, if anyone wants to know perhaps how I feel identify with Woody from Toy Story if that makes any sense. That’s where I’m at with it.”
On-screen, Cody Rhodes is currently at odds with his coach and mentor Arn Anderson. After another crushing defeat to Malakai Black at AEW Grand Slam, Anderson called out Rhodes, leaving the audience with no doubt that he’s a man who’s not afraid to pull the trigger.
H/t to Fightful for the transcription.