Cody Rhodes Leaving for WWE Doesn't Hurt AEW's Product, but it Hurts AEW's Story

The story of All Elite Wrestling is an interesting one. Born out of the "indie showcase" event ALL IN, which was primarily promoted by Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks, it has quickly grown into a solid alternative to WWE.

Cody Rhodes leaving All Elite Wrestling doesn't change that. His absence from the promotion doesn't hurt the company's shows. Yes, Cody could put on good matches, but so can many competitors. We've heard over and over again over the last few months that AEW actually may actually have too much talent in the company, if  that's even possible.

In fact, Cody and Brandi leaving could improve the on-screen product in some ways. Cody's promos and Brandi's segments were often the low points of Dynamite, at least for many people. Whether it was solving racism, dragging out a feud with QT Marshall, doing a live baby gender revealteasing his retirement, or just being generally aimless for long periods of time, a lot of his stuff seemed too self-involved. It often felt like it didn't really fit into the rest of AEW.

That's not to say Cody didn't do a lot of great things. His focus on "Southern wrestling" and making AEW feel like a spiritual successor to WCW was important, especially when AEW was just starting out. He did crazy stunts like jump off cages or put himself through flaming tables. All of that stuff was nice. But there are a lot of guys in AEW who can have good matches and do crazy things. And AEW no longer needs to be "the new WCW." It has its own brand now.

Cody's character started to get grating. It definitely seems like he really wanted to be a big face in AEW. And, if you just read his story and accomplishments and didn't see him or hear him speak, it certainly feels like he should be a big face. He left WWE after getting fed up with the company. He went to Japan and ROH and all kinds of other places and rebuilt himself. He made friends and promoted shows and helped give wrestling fans the best alternative to WWE we've had in decades. That's an impressive resume and it's one that should make him a big face.

But it didn't. 

In what now seems like one of his last promos in AEW, he mentioned that while CM Punk cut the Pipebomb Promo, Cody actually did all the things Punk said he would do. And that's true. But people didn't give Rhodes credit for that stuff any longer. Instead, AEW fans praise Tony Khan for the company's success. Cody even mentioned that it a promo.


There are a couple of reasons. One is that once Tony Khan took a more hands-on role over booking in AEW, things got a lot better. The other reason is that Cody Rhodes' character just isn't likeable.

If he wants to be the "do the work" guy, the grandson of a plumber, the spirited face, it's not working. If he wants to be respected for his hustle and his effort, he's portraying himself all wrong. The grandiose entrances, the over-the-top promos, the pomp and pageantry, it doesn't seem like he's a hard working face character. It seems like he's a heel. CM Punk may have an ego, but his character doesn't seem like it. He doesn't have special tunnel for his entrances, he doesn't constantly remind people of why they should like him, and he doesn't ask you to cheer for him every week. And that's why people like him.

People respect Cody Rhodes the person for what he's done, but Cody Rhodes the character seems like a cocky, egotistical heel. That's why he should have turned heel. It would have worked. Him coming out with Brandi and talking about how they're the reason AEW exists, how they're the ones who built this company, how they're the heroes that everyone needs... it could have been great. But he didn't do that. And that's why he won't be missed from AEW TV.

However, what will be missing from AEW is an important part of the story. The fact that the company basically grew from a Cody Rhodes Tweet feels a bit tainted now. So does having the Revolution pay-per-view without the clip of Cody saying "It seems like this is a revolution!" Something is missing. 

WWE no longer owns all of professional wrestling, but it certainly feels like now they "own" a bit of AEW's story. And I bet that's exactly why they want Cody Rhodes in their company.

WWE was rejected by people like Daniel Bryan and Adam Cole. Now they want to show that they can win some battles too. And getting Cody Rhodes is big for them. Not because him leaving AEW hurts their on-screen product, and not because he's going to vastly improve WWE's on-screen product, but because of the symbolism of the move. 

It probably would have looked worse for AEW if a homegrown star like MJF or Wardlow or Jade Cargill was the first big name to bolt for WWE, but Cody is a huge symbolic hit. And he won't be the last. WWE is successful for a reason.

But, as Cody himself once said, "it's better to have competition."

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