What is going on with Cody Rhodes and the AEW fans? Can someone explain it to me? Seriously? For those of you that don’t know, the past few weeks – hell, months if truth be told – has seen Cody Rhodes go from a fan favorite who is hailed from the highest mountain to someone whose every single action is greeted with a chorus of boos so loud that even Kevin Dunn would have trouble editing them out. And I – for the life of me – can’t figure out why.
This has all been coming to a head and that head erupted last night when – during an eight-man tag team match – Rhodes did his usual schtick of throwing his belt into the audience, only for it to come flying back into the ring. Some have said that this was just the Chicago crowd being the Chicago crowd, but if that’s a case then it was a d*ck move and I’m inclined to think it’s more than that. It p*ssed off everyone involved in the match – face and heel alike – and Andrade seemed less than amused when he took the offending item and threw it under the ring.
So what is going on with Cody Rhodes and the AEW fans? I’m going to take a look at the rights and wrongs that he’s been responsible for and see if we can’t make some sense out of all this.
What He’s Done Right
When Dave Meltzer was asked on Twitter – back in 2017 – if he felt that ROH could sell 10,000 tickets for one of their events he replied;
Not any time soon”
This was seen as a challenge by Cody Rhodes who told Uncle Dave that he would take that bet, and in doing so he set the wheels in motion for what would become the first-ever All In. Along with The Young Bucks – who Rhodes approached, telling them that they would be the number one selling point for the PPV – and backed by ROH, they set up a show so impressive and so important to the landscape of professional wrestling at the time that when tickets for the show went on sale it sold out in 29 minutes.
If it hadn’t been for Cody Rhodes having his finger on the pulse of what real wrestling fans were desperate for at the time – actual wrestling instead of sports entertainment – then All In would never have happened.
And neither would…
He might not have been the only one responsible for bringing AEW to the masses – as The Bucks, Omega, and Tony Khan are just as important – but there can be no denying that The EVP is central to AEW not only having the best of the well know talent on their books, but making sure that the future is bright as well.
Talking to SEScoops in October, Rhodes said;
That’s technically my number one job at AEW as the Executive Vice President of Talent. That’s the most important thing I already know that Bryan Danielson is famous, I already know that CM Punk is amazing in the ring, that Kenny Omega can have a five-star match, I know that. It’s our job to show you who in five years, or three years, will be leading the charge and if you just look at some of the homegrown types with Ricky Starks, and MJF, and Private Party, and Lee Johnson, I mean, I could go on and on. It’s vastly important.”
And he’s done just that. All the talent he’s mentioned are on the cusp of greatness and will be the ones that carry AEW forward over the next decade and more. He understands that even though the likes of Punk and Danielson are central to any success AEW is having right now that he and the company needs to build the younger wrestlers up into places of prominence so that they can take the company on their shoulders, going forward.
And to all of those idiots out there that claim he’s burying talent…
MJF And Never Fighting For The AEW World Championship
When Cody Rhodes brought MJF into the AEW fold – via Being The Elite – you knew it was only a matter of time before Maxwell Jacob Freeman turned on his mentor, and when he did it was with grave consequences for The American Nightmare. It was also a fantastic piece of storytelling that not only helped introduce MJF to an audience that may not have been familiar with his character, it also helped show the world that MJF was the best bastard in the wrestling industry.
When he challenged Chris Jericho for the AEW World Championship at 2019’s AEW: Full Gear, it was with the stipulation that if he lost he could never challenge for the big belt again. Everyone thought that this would see Rhodes beat Jericho and keyboard warriors across the globe started to scream about entitled positions and the like, but what happened was that MJF threw in the towel and Cody Rhodes was banned from ever being AEW Champion.
So in two moments of utter genius, Rhodes not only turned MJF into the most hated man in wrestling, but he also took himself out of the title picture, permanently, meaning there would never be a chance that he could pull a Vince Russo or Vince McMahon and book himself as World Champion.
This led to…
The TNT Championship
Still looking for things to be mad about, wrestling fans got their chance to be annoyed when Cody Rhodes was crowned the inaugural TNT Champion. Defeating Lance Archer in the tournament finals, Rhodes would go on to successfully defend the belt against the likes of Jake Hager, Eddie Kingston, and Scorpio Sky to name just three. This once again led to cries of burial, but let’s look at the facts here.
The TNT Championship was a brand new title that had zero history, and no matter what the IWC might think, there was no one better to give the belt some respectability than Cody. The Rhodes name is synonymous with pro-wrestling and Cody is one of the best to ever step between the ropes. Also, not one person who fought for the TNT Championship during this period came away from their match looking anything but stronger. So the argument that he was running some kind of vanity project is not only wrong but unbelievably stupid.
He eventually dropped the belt to Brodie Lee before winning it back in Lee’s final match before his tragic death. If Lee hadn’t passed away, then there’s no doubt in my mind that he and Rhodes would’ve feuded back and forth for the TNT Championship for about a year, and I also have no doubt that Lee would’ve been the more victorious of the two.
He eventually dropped the TNT Championship to Darby Allin, and in doing so pushed Allin even further into the stratosphere, and by taking on the mantel of TNT Champion on and off for a year – before removing himself from the picture entirely at the time of writing – he’s not only made the title mean something but he’s also allowed others to take it on to another level.
What He’s Done Wrong
Yup, you read that right. Cody Rhodes has done absolutely nothing wrong during his time in AEW. And don’t think I haven’t tried to think of something that I could criticize him for, I just can’t find anything. He’s helped give wrestling fans the world over not just an alternative to the WWE, but arguably the best wrestling promotion running at the moment.
If you want pro-wrestling, you go to AEW, so this hatred that is being aimed in Cody Rhodes direction can only be because the ‘fans’ feel they have the right to behave like assholes towards a man who has been responsible – along with others – for bringing us a company that keeps going from strength to strength.
And it annoys me. There is no end game here. If Rhodes does turn heel, it won’t be because a section of the IWC decided that he should, but because he accidentally super-kicked The Bastard PAC in the face on last night’s AEW Dynamite. Though I’m still not convinced that that is how this story will play out. In fact, I fully expect PAC to be the one who turns, which means that Rhodes will face an uphill battle while those in attendance boo him while cheering The Bastard at every step.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you really shouldn’t be scorning Cody Rhodes. What you should be doing is putting some goddamn respect on his name every time you put it in your mouth or at your fingertips. After all, if he hadn’t taken a huge gamble – both financially and professionally – in putting together the first All In, we’d have no AEW.
And you’d all still be stuck with a WWE product so out of date and so backward that Vince McMahon is still making commentators make Scooby-Doo jokes and acting as if they’re in the movie The Great Chase.