In 2016, Cody Rhodes requested his release from WWE amidst frustrations at being pigeonholed into the mid-card character of Stardust. Believing he would never ascend to main event status if he were to stay, he reinvented himself outside of the sports entertainment giant, working for companies such as New Japan, ROH, and IMPACT as well as numerous independent promotions.
Eventually, alongside Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks, Rhodes was instrumental in the creation of All Elite Wrestling after successfully selling out a Chicago arena for All In, one of the largest independent events in American wrestling history.
One man who was present at All In was WWE Hall of Famer DDP, who shares a special friendship with Rhodes as he was close to his father Dusty Rhodes.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Inside the Ropes’ own Kenny McIntosh, Diamond Dallas Page opened up about his friendship with Cody Rhodes and explained why he believed Rhodes is an invaluable asset to any wrestling company. He praised Cody’s work ethic and willingness to bet on himself by walking away from guaranteed money in WWE in order to forge a new path.
“So when he did the whole All In thing, like when he left the WWE, and I don’t know what he was making, but I know what that money’s like in WWE when you’re in the spot he was in and I’ll guarantee as long as he was there, it was somewhere near half a million bucks. And he walked away from it. Because he saw himself here. They saw him here and they were never gonna see him at the top of the card in the main event unless he left and proved himself, right. It wasn’t to prove them wrong. It was to prove himself right.
“It took a lot of b*lls to walk away from that kind of money, right? Guaranteed money, which he probably would have got, you know, as long as a bunch of those guys who were there, and now they’re all gone. But eventually you’re gone. But you leave a mid card guy. It’s hard to build up that ladder outside of get those payoffs. But he did.”
Continuing, Diamond Dallas Page said that it took the efforts of Rhodes and all members of The Elite to make All In a reality, and he said they changed the face of professional wrestling. Speaking specifically about All In, Page compared Cody to his father, running the show as well as working in one of the most prominent matches on the card, winning the NWA Heavyweight Championship from Nick Aldis on the night.
“There Is No Way If I Was Tony Khan I’m Losing Cody Rhodes” – DDP
DDP then turned his attention to AEW President Tony Khan, saying that Rhodes was the one who taught him a great deal about the wrestling business. Page expressed disbelief that Khan would let Cody slip away from his company as he’s such a valuable asset.
“And, you know, he would write the TV’s, like it’s challenging to write TV’s and storylines and all of that. And Tony was right there, Tony Khan, but Tony didn’t know how to do that. Yo, he learned that from Cody.
“But at some point, you know, there is no way if I was Tony Khan I’m losing Cody Rhodes. There is no way. I mean, the other guys are important too, big time, monster superstars. But the guy who technically knows how to do the behind the scenes storytelling and and just to point out a couple of them.”
Diamond Dallas Page then revealed that Cody Rhodes was instrumental in bringing in and highlighting the so-called four pillars of AEW, speaking about his 20-minute draw with Darby Allin as well as his influence on the careers of MJF and Sammy Guevara.
“When I watched Darby Allin go out there for the very first time. No one knows anything about him except for on the independent scenes. When I watch him go out there, and I never want to know the finish, he knows that, I want to watch like a fan. And I watched him go 20 minutes. Broadway. First of all, I don’t even remember when the last Broadway was, it was so long ago.
“But Cody saw something in that kid that no one saw in a 5’8” 155lb kid. Nobody saw it, but he did. And that’s why he got the job.
“He also was one who discovered oh, what’s his name again? MJF. Who is the best heel in the business from top to bottom because he can work, because he knows how to be the heel, the chicken sh*t and he loves people booing him. He does not want anybody to cheer him. Nobody, you know? But Cody, again, saw something in him and helped him up.
“And then of course, Sammy Guevara. I mean, Jericho did a ton to really get to saving that spot. But so did Cody, you know what I mean? So it wasn’t like he was beating everyone and made himself the AEW champion. He never was, you know what I’m saying?
“So, when I watch all of that, for starters, if I was Tony Khan, I never let him go. Like, to me, it was like when Eric Bischoff let go of Stone Cold Steve Austin. And I was like, no, not him, not him! And we all know what happened there.”
Cody Rhodes plans to pay tribute to his time rebuilding his image away from WWE at WrestleMania as he shared an image of his custom weight belt for the event that contains the names of numerous promotions he worked for during his hiatus and prior to starting AEW.
If you use any quotes from this transcription, please credit Inside the Ropes’ Kenny McIntosh and link back to this article with a h/t to Inside the Ropes.