Tony Khan Weighs In On Negative Cody Rhodes Reactions

Cody Rhodes, Tony Khan & Brandi Rhodes

Ahead of Cody Rhodes’ shock departure from AEW, Tony Khan gave his thoughts on the negative reactions the star had been receiving from live crowds.

In the early days of AEW, Cody Rhodes became something of a beloved figure for fans both in attendance at shows and online. However, over time that gradually began to shift, and reached a climax in late 2021 and early 2022, where live audiences became openly hostile towards the star.

Despite the reactions, Rhodes remained steadfastly committed to his babyface persona, openly commenting that he would never turn heel. As the situation progressed it drew comparisons with John Cena’s time on top of WWE where he received similarly mixed reactions.

Speaking exclusively to Kenny McIntosh for issue 17 of the Inside The Ropes magazine, before Rhodes announced his exit from the company, AEW President Tony Khan gave his thoughts on the situation.

Khan said the fact that Rhodes got a loud reaction, even if it was mixed, was still a huge positive.

“I think that the fans have always seen Cody—since we launched AEW with Double Or Nothing—as one of the key people. He had an amazing match against his brother Dustin on that pay-per-view and he’s a huge part of the rise of AEW. I think fans really fondly remember a lot of the stuff that Cody did in the first year, and he got that great reaction and some of the loudest and most positive reactions of anyone in the summer.

Then in Q3 and Q4 he had his rivalry with Chris Jericho, and then with MJF.

As we went on, and the fans came back after we had been working the pandemic for a while, I noticed that it was different. It was still a loud reaction—and I think the worst kind of reaction in wrestling by far is no reaction—and the TV audience still connects with him, so he’s still a valuable person, he’s still a valuable wrestler.

But the audience see him different to how they did at the beginning of AEW, which is interesting. But what’s important to me is that they do still react to him and care about him, even if they seem to care about him differently than they did a few years ago.”

On February 15th, Cody and Brandi Rhodes announced that they had left AEW. This was swiftly followed by huge amounts of speculation as to why the couple had decided to leave the company they had been with since it’s creation.

The pair also held significant roles backstage with Cody serving as Executive Vice President and Brandi as Chief Brand Officer.

It has since been reported that Cody Rhodes could complete a stunning return to WWE in the coming days.

To read the full interview with Tony Khan you can order issue 17 of Inside The Ropes Magazine here or take out a monthly subscription to get great wrestling interviews, features, and a whole lot more delivered to your door. Alternatively, Inside The Ropes Magazine is also available as a download.