Anthony Ogogo vs Cody Rhodes – The Problem with Nationalism in Wrestling

Hamish Woodward

Anthony Ogogo vs Cody Rhodes

Cody Rhodes vs Antony Ogogo is one of the most controversial feuds in AEW history.

It took Cody Rhodes from the main event and pushed him down to the lower-mid card, positioning him in a feud with the likes of QT Marshall and Anthony Ogogo.

His feud with Ogogo was the most confusing, and downright offensive, feud AEW have ever don.

Cody tried to make himself the heel, talking about ending racism due to having a mix-race daughter, while up against a mixed-race Olympian.

He spoke about chasing the American dream, against the immigrant coming to the United States for a better life.

It was utterly bizarre, and did more damage to Cody Rhodes than anything else in AEW history.

Anthony Ogogo In The Olympics

Anthony Ogogo with his Bronze Medal from the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The year is 2012. The sun shines on a content nation, as the medals fly in for Team GB, and we watch our nation’s superstars conquer all in the London 2012 Olympics.

A boxer named Anthony wins the gold medal in the Super Heavyweight category. He became a household name and a star worldwide.

His name is Anthony Joshua.

However, a bronze medalist in the middleweight division would also become well known in his home country, and eventually America. That man’s name was also Anthony – AEW’s Anthony Ogogo.

Anthony Ogogo was one of the first developmental signings into AEW.

Ogogo made his AEW debut not in the ring, but as a commentator.

While he trained with ‘The Nightmare Factory’, AEW’s own wrestling school, Ogogo made frequent appearances on alongside Taz and Excalibur on AEW Dark, providing his own unique insight on the show, as well as learning from two great commentators on the job.

Ogogo seemed nervous and quiet at first, but soon grew into his role and began to show his charisma on the microphone. His banter back and forth with Taz was entertaining, and he gave great insight into his life as both a boxer and a wrestler.

Anthony Ogogo’s AEW Debut.

Anthony Ogogo made his in ring debut on the 14th April 2021. He wrestled his first televised match on AEW Dynamite, AEW’s flagship program, facing off against fellow trainee wrestler Cole Karter.

They wrestled in a short match, which Ogogo won by referee stoppage. In a rare finish for wrestling, he hit a big punch to the gut which left Karter gasping for air. The referee stopped the match right there, and Ogogo claimed the victory.

Ogogo looked good in his victory, showing his charisma as he swaggered out to the ring in his ‘Peaky Blinders’ inspired theme song, introduced as ‘The Guvnor’.

His win via stoppage showed how AEW are focusing on his background as a Boxing Olympian, despite being forced to retire from the sport due to vision issues. Ogogo is registered blind in his left eye, and banned from driving as a consequence.

Watch Ogogo square off with Cole Karter

Anthony Ogogo Feuded With Cody Rhodes

Ogogo has entered into a feud with Cody Rhodes. The American Nightmare is one of the most popular men on the AEW Roster, so a match with him as his first big feature is a huge one of the former Olympian.

Ogogo aligned himself with Rhode’s former friend, QT Marshall, who also helped train him. Marshall took part in an exhibition match with Rhodes, but had his students including Ogogo and caveman-looking wrestler Nick Comoroto attack Rhodes and his family.

This included Cody’s brother Dustin. Dustin was known as ‘Goldust’ during a nearly 20 year spell in the WWE.

Ogogo was positiond as a big star going into the match, and looked every bit Cody’s equal. His big body shots looked as dangerous as a gun shot, and were given as much reverence as Big Show’s “Knockout Punch”.

The Problem with the American Dream

This feud has so far been set up as a clear good guy vs bad guy. Ogogo has attacked Cody as often as he can, goading him about his family and lack of success, and has generally been a bad guy.

However, all that changed on Dynamite on May 12th 2021.

Cody Rhodes stood in the ring with a microphone in his hand. “Our empathy outweighs our anger,” Cody said moments after deriding Ogogo for apparently taking advantage of American freedoms while being here on a visa.

“You didn’t come here to live the ‘England Dream.’. This tone deafness made Cody look like a xenophobic person more than anything, and made Anthony Ogogo vs Cody Rhodes an awkward match to look forward too.

Ogogo staring down at Austin Gunn

He then went on to talk about how America is great now compared to segregation in the 60s, and that as someone who has a black wife and a mixed race baby, he is the embodiment of the American Dream.

Bragging about being only 60 years on from segregation is not something to be proud of, Cody. It is a requirement for any society to not subject another race to such abhorrent circumstances just for the color of their skin.

And to claim that your mixed race baby absolved America of its crimes, especially in recent times with Black Lives Matter in the forefront of the public conscience, is tone-deaf to say the least and dishonest at it’s worse.

There is nothing wrong with showing pride in one’s country. And Ogogo is the one who brought his country into it first, draping the Union Jack over Cody’s limp, lifeless body.

But once you start saying you are better than someone BECAUSE of where you are from, that becomes bigotry. And deifying yourself because of your mixed race daughter, when your opponent is mixed raced themselves, just makes no sense.

Rather than pointing of the success of America, or the way it has achieved things, he labels why he is better just for being American.

Ogogo even points out certain flaws in America, whilst not attacking the people who enjoy it’s benefits

“Let me be real for a second, ok? I hate this place because it values money, more than it does life. People are left to rot and die on the streets of American because they cannot afford healthcare. That is unfair. Right now, in this great country, there are a thousand kids trapped in cages that have been taken away from their parents, and that is unfair. That’s the America you people are proud of and Cody Rhodes is the epitome of that.”

Anthony Agogo

It’s a heel promo. He’s running down the country. But it’s all true. And he’s right, Cody Rhodes, in his promo, is the epitome of that.

The problem with such nationalism in wrestling is that it creates an ‘Us vs Them’ mentality. People from America see anyone foreign as the bad guy, as they don’t conform to American idealism.

While Ogogo IS the bad guy, it’s not because he is British. It’s because he attack Cody. It has nothing to do with his nationality, just as Cody is not the bad guy for being American. Nationality shouldn’t play a part, it should be about the actions. Ogogo betrayed Cody by attacking him with his friend, QT Marshall, but this has seemed like an afterthought.

Double or Nothing

Cody Rhodes wrestled Anthony Ogogo at AEW Double or Nothing 2021 and it…was not good.

The fans weren’t on board after the mixed build, and it was seen as a big demotion for Cody Rhodes.

Ogogo also wasn’t at the level required quite yet, having only wrestled a handful of matches in his career so far.

Cody Rhodes won the match, although details of the match are hazy. It was long, dull and very forgettable, and did nothing to help either man.

The American Nightmare even claimed that he regretted “almost everything” about the match. A damning statement from Cody Rhodes. Ogogo has done very little since.

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