Former TNT Champion Wardlow recently returned to AEW to do battle with Samoa Joe. However, he is a much different beast than when he first debuted in AEW, as MJF’s lackey in his feud with Cody Rhodes.
Wardlow’s AEW Debut
Wardlow debuted in AEW as part of the MJF vs Cody Rhodes feud in 2019. MJF had cost Cody Rhodes a match against Chris Jericho at Full Gear 2019, meaning that The American Nightmare could never challenge for the AEW Championship ever again.
On the next episode of Dynamite, Cody was irate. He had taken MJF under his wing as his protégé and he had been betrayed. It was heart-breaking, but MJF didn’t care.
He had thrown in the towel against Jericho and kicked Cody in the nuts for good measure. It was as heel a heel turn could be and he let Cody know exactly how he felt.
“The real Cody only cares about himself, but you sheep don’t want to believe that,” MJF said. “There’s one person on this planet that knows the real Cody, and you’re looking at him. The real Cody is a liar. The real Cody is a user and abuser. That sociopath put his hand out with a smile on his face and said ‘Hey kid, I want to be your mentor.’ Cody didn’t want to keep me under his wing, but to put me underneath his thumb until he was done being ‘the guy.’ Well blondie, your thumb isn’t big enough to put me down.”MJF on why he turned on Cody Rhodes (source – Bleacher Report)
However, as Cody Rhodes confronted MJF on AEW Dynamite after the fact, he was attacked by MJF’s “War Dog” – Wardlow.
Wardlow’s debut had been teased in video packages since August but he made his first AEW appearance on the November 13th, 2019 episode of AEW debut. He ran in and hit Cody with a Death Valley Driver as MJF laughed on the ring apron.
Cody then made his way to the ring apron where Wardlow choked him with his own tie, laughing maniacally. It was a brilliant debut that made Wardlow look like a monster, although his first match in AEW would be something to behold.
Wardlow’s First Match In AEW Was Against Cody Rhodes
Former TNT Champion Wardlow wrestled his first match in AEW against Cody Rhodes on the ___ episode of AEW Dynamite. The match was during the Cody Rhodes vs MJF feud and he stood in the way of their eventual match at Revolution 2020.
MJF forced Cody Rhodes to do three things before he could wrestle him. The first was that he could not touch him; the second was that he had to take 10 lashings from MJF’s belt and the third was that he had to beat Wardlow inside a steel cage.
This was the first steel cage match in AEW history, which was a huge deal. An even bigger deal was that Wardlow, a previously unknown wrestler, was having his first match against a main eventer like Cody inside the cage.
The match showcased just how brutal Wardlow could be. He threw Cody Rhodes around like a ragdoll and used him immense power to beat him to a pulp.
Cody had blood covering his face very early on in the match. Wardlow’s strength and power was on display throughout, but Cody Rhodes was unrelenting. He never gave up.
Cody had one of the most memorable moments in AEW history when he climbed up to the top of the cage. In AEW, you cannot win a cage match by escaping, so there was only one way to go.
Hesitating for a moment, Cody leapt from the cage and hit a picture-perfect moonsault onto Wardlow. He grabbed onto the larger mans leg as he pinned him for the victory and earned his shot against MJF at Revolution 2020, ending Wardlow’s first match in AEW in defeat.
“The cage has to be lowered, that was my rule. So I ended up with the highest cage I could possibly get, and that cost me. I’m terrified of heights. That’s why my eyes are closed.Cody Rhodes on being terrified of jumping off the cage vs Wardlow (source – SI)