AEW President Tony Khan has discussed the similarities in the reactions received by WWE icon John Cena and AEW star Cody Rhodes in recent months.
John Cena has long been known for his polarising reactions from the WWE Universe. Dating back to his very first run as WWE Champion in 2005, a vocal section of the WWE audience let Cena know they were not fans of his and this has followed him for the majority of his career.
Nowhere was this vocal section of the audience more evident than at the One Night Stand event in 2006. A raucous crowd of former ECW fans filled Hammerstein Ballroom to watch one of their own Rob Van Dam defeat Cena for the WWE Championship.
Since Malakai Black darkened AEW’s door in July and set his sights on Cody Rhodes, the crowd reaction for The American Nightmare has begun to sound more split. Audible jeers could be heard during Rhodes’ trilogy of matches with Black as many fans simply support the Dutch star.
AEW President Tony Khan discussed what he sees as the parallels between Cena’s reactions and Rhodes’ recent reactions in an appearance on Wrestling Observer Live. Khan says as long as people are emotionally invested in Cody Rhodes one way or another, that’s a good thing:
“It’s been a long time since it was the opposite of the intended reaction. I’ve known what the reaction is for a long time, and I think it’s very polarising. It’s not all one side.”
“I think it’s a mix of the crowd, and it’s very similar to John in terms of how you hear a split, and there’s a ton of women and kids that are huge fans and some of the guys booing, but people are still really buying Cody. And in the right moments, they do cheer him. And we saw that when he saved PAC from Malakai and Andrade.”
“There was a huge Cody chant, and in that context, people were really excited to see him, and the truth is I do really think the people really like Cody. When John Cena was a full-time wrestler, he’s one of the all-time great wrestling stars and people really liked to see him too.”
“Of course, that reaction, in time, became more generally positive, but still, obviously, people only have grown to care more and more about John Cena. So I do think people are very emotionally invested in Cody one way or another, which is a very good thing.”
Cody Rhodes was in action on the most recent edition of AEW Dynamite where he fell to defeat at the hands of Andrade El Idolo. FTR interjected themselves in the match and orchestrated a post-match beat down on Rhodes before the Lucha Brothers intervened.