At the 2023 Royal Rumble, Cody Rhodes returned from injury after being out of action since June.
He went on to win the men’s Royal Rumble match, securing himself a chance to face Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship at WrestleMania in Los Angeles, CA.
The returning star’s big win wasn’t the only reason he turned heads that night, however, as he was photographed backstage with AEW star Ricky Starks, who was in attendance to support Cody on one of the biggest nights of his career to date.
During a recent appearance on Out of Character, Cody Rhodes spoke to Ryan Satin about the incident, saying that while he was happy to have support in such an important moment, he doesn’t plan to be bringing stars from other promotions backstage again any time soon.
“Well I’ll take full blunt, my fault. It was a friend coming to see me in a very big, truly emotional moment. To lose your confidence as an athlete, as a fighter, or an entertainer, whatever it is, to get back up off the mat and not just get back up, you’ve got to be at the level you were, I like having people in my circle around me.
“But I also think that will be the only time anyone from another company is ever present because it creates a conversation that is not accurate. He wanted to be there and support. He should have stayed his butt on the bus, but he did not, and because of that, no friends at work anymore. I’ll make some new friends at WWE so that there’s not random surveillance photos of them and I walking backstage.” (h/t WrestlingNews.co)
“That’s My Friend” – Ricky Starks On Supporting Cody Rhodes At The Royal Rumble
Ricky Starks himself commented on the situation following the Rumble in an interview with Stephanie Chase, praising Cody for helping him through his own neck injury and saying that he doesn’t care about tribalism among fans; he’s going to support his friend.
“It was important to me because that’s my friend. That’s a guy who has helped me out through a neck injury. That’s a guy who had helped me out through my career, even before AEW, when I was an extra at SmackDown. This guy talked to me and gave me advice when he didn’t have to.
“That’s what’s important. I don’t give a sh*t, and I want everyone who’s watching this to do this verbatim. I don’t give a shit if there’s some tribalism from the fans. I don’t care if someone from my company or over there thinks it’s a bad look. I don’t give a f*ck.
“That is my friend. One thing about me is I’m genuinely going to be a friend no matter what, and if you ride for me, I’m gonna ride for you. So it’s important that I go there and see a guy who is ultimately on the biggest chapter of his career. It was important for me to be there because I would want the same damn thing.
“Like I said, I don’t care what tribalism happens from the fans, from the people I work with, over there, it was important for me to go and support my friend on one of the biggest nights of his life because that’s what friends do. If there’s one thing about me, it’s that I’m a genuine down-ass person that will ride for my friends, and nobody will question me for that. I refuse to let anybody question me. Or even try to give me any type of pushback on it. Because I’m a grown-ass person, I can do that.” (h/t Fightful)