Co-founder of AEW, most likely for WWE’s higher paying pastures

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What was Cody Rhodes doing now?

What was Cody Rhodes doing now?
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Cody and Brandi Rhodes must be crazy, right? The couple who were integral to the founding of All Elite Wrestling, with a strong family heritage within the square circle, have left the start-up promotion for which they helped lay stone and tile and can go back to their former employer, World Wrestling Entertainment, per multiple online reports. AEW and Cody confirmed their split on social media Tuesday morning.

The truth is, Brandi and Cody are insane, especially a plumber’s grandson, but not for obvious reasons. Without the efforts of Dusty Rhodes’ son since his WWE departure in 2016, AEW would not exist. Trained wrestling fans don’t need a history lesson. There was an innocent tweet from Dave Meltzer turning into Cody and fellow AEW EVPs The Young Bucks, who put on a show to fill a 10,000-seat Chicago arena. Tickets for Everything in sold out in less than half an hourdespite limited confirmed talent and a solitary advertised match at the time coupled with a massive public relations campaign.

That night in September 2018 essentially served as show No. 0 for AEW. Plenty of future contracted talent appeared, such as MJF in the opener and AEW Women’s World Champion Britt Baker competing in a four-way match. More importantly, it was an undeniably, incredibly satisfying data point. There was a market in professional wrestling for a mainstream company not owned by Vince McMahon after two decades without legitimate competition. Cody is one of four people without whom vision is impossible, alongside the aforementioned Nick Jackson, Matt Jackson and AEW CEO and President Tony Khan.

Insanity is the best way to describe the kaleidoscope of events that drive Cody and Brandi insane, with their blinders on and not quite seeing this now normalized wrestling landscape. They are both mad visionaries to get to this point and anyone who downplays that credit is clinically insane, not creative, like the Rhodes.

Their red-hot start of AEW was cooled shortly after. Brandi went from bringing in the now-retired Awesome Kong at “Double or Nothing” to starting The Nightmare Collective, a massive bust of a stable from the start. At Double or Nothing 2019, the first official show under the AEW banner, Cody’s powerfully driven sledgehammer in a Triple H-designed throne became one of the company’s first defining images. His first crop was solid. The chair shot of Shawn Spears, the feud over MJF’s career. to reinforcethe match with Chris Jericho in Baltimore and the launch of Sammy Guevara on AEW’s TNT debut were all successful.

Somewhere along that path, Cody’s AEW journey flattened out† Crowds turned on him and hooted relentlessly whether he wanted to or not. But he turned out to be a man of the company and became the host of two other shows within the Turner Broadcasting family. And that is balanced with display on Dynamite, Dark and Rampage for him and his friends

Regardless of your opinion of the Rhodes family, they are no longer affiliated with AEW in any way. Their contracts expired, so there is no non-compete clause. They are free to appear whenever and wherever they want. And when they’re looking for a new home, no one offers more security, spotlight, and most importantly, that sweet, sweet money than WWE. Cody has a legacy, a pun, with the company. It’s where he and Brandi met, and it’s where Cody spent most of his career. If McMahon hasn’t already personally contacted the Rhodes couple about returning to the company, I’d be shocked. They add a star power that WWE desperately needs right now.

WWE’s desperation for a stacked WrestleMania card following the release of Shane McMahon is the easily justifiable shock it’s looking for. In fact, despite all the other signs, WWE admitted that the Hail Mary had opportunities to engage a bigger fan base for its biggest show of the year on RAW last night in Kevin Owens’ promo about how much he hates the state of Texas. If only the most popular wrestler in the history of the industry was tied to a legendary deal with the company and came from the Lone Star State. Oh wait! Stone cold Steve Austin is, with other online reports indicating WWE is trying to persuade the Texas Rattlesnake to have its first match since 2003. How dry of ideas must McMahon be to write a blank check to Austin? It’s a one-time fix that doesn’t affect his God status in wrestling, like Shawn Michaels’ horrific one-off comeback in 2018 after an eight-year absence.

The departure of Cody’s AEW will have an industry-wide impact and should be part of WWE’s long-term solution to a lack of full-time legit talent at the main event level. Whether he brings back Rhodes Industries, his “Dashing” gimmicka modified version of his AEW persona or something completely different, the three-time and inaugural AEW TNT champion can now meet that demand.

A big reason why so many part-timers like Ronda Rousey, Brock Lesnar and Goldberg get top spots at the biggest shows of the year is money. Both in terms of revenue for the WWE and how those established talents are filling their own pockets. The over-reliance on using stars who aren’t on the road for every show dulls those special appearances with every trot to the ring. I’m not confident WWE can keep Cody at the top of the map with Brandi as his valet/fixer/badass hype woman† He would be a complete waste in the mid-card feud with Madcap Moss or Happy Corbin, like Shinsuke Nakamura or Cesaro, who would be top executives in every company in the world except WWE.

The credit to how the game-changing Rhodes exits AEW is that there isn’t a proper comparison. AEW’s character comes closest to John Cena with the card placement of a Drew McIntyre leaving the promotion with similar circumstances to 2000 Triple H. And even that gerrymandered example has holes in it. He is the first major defector of AEW. He won’t be the last, but it’s hard to imagine one with a bigger ripple effect possible minus a completely retarded, insane, never-happening scenario.

WWE can dump a bulldozer full of cash to bring Brandi and Cody back into the fold with how much they distanced themselves from their past. The weird thing about mentioning whatever Cody and Brandi would do under McMahon’s tenure is that the end of his AEW career felt like that. They would stagnate again. It would be an endless cycle.

The Rhodes know the risks of going back to WWE. Not agreeing with AEW on new contracts after six weeks of negotiations, according to Dave Meltzer, shows that Khan has a plan and no one is worth getting off course to disrupt it. The terms of those discussions will probably never be made public. You can’t blame yourself for not giving in to what Cody and Brandi wanted, no matter how responsible they are for the existence of AEW.

AEW will be fine without the Rhodes duo, and perhaps better off in the long run, to have its influence elsewhere with Khan’s roster growing to what must be near capacity max. Cody won’t be a free agent for long, even if the membership-less identity spawned some of the best work of his career, between his WWE exile and ROH signing. Wherever he signs, he will no doubt get a lucrative check for Brandi as well. He has such a deserved influence. Now we wait and see where the dominoes fall, because Tuesday morning closed a chapter of AEW history. Bring on the madness.

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