Cody Rhodes is one of the biggest names in All Elite Wrestling to never hold the AEW Championship.
Having Cody Rhodes as AEW Champion in the early years of AEW made sense. He was the most popular babyface in the company, had name recognition from his time in WWE and was a seasoned veteran despite only being on his mid-30s.
A Cody Rhodes AEW Championship run seemed very likely at the start of AEW. However, he soon scuppered the chance for himself and relegated himself to the mid-card for the rest of his AEW run.
This lead to many championship opportunities for Cody Rhodes, but none of them for the coveted AEW Championship that he should have won at one point in his career.
Cody Rhodes Didn’t Want To Win AEW Championship
Cody Rhodes seemed poised to win the AEW Championship in the promotions early days. AEW Champion Cody Rhodes just made sense. He was the most marketable of the bunch, with a great look and experience wrestling for the WWE.
He was fantastic in the ring but excelled with his connection to the crowd. Having left WWE to prove himself, he embraced the independent crowds that grew to be the AEW faithful.
Fans believed in him because he chased his dream and succeeded when many thought he’d be a WWE lifer (even during Cody Rhodes’ Stardust phase).
Cody Rhodes never wanted to be the AEW Champion. While he returned to WWE in 2022 with aspirations of winning the WWE Championship, the AEW Champion was something he never wanted to win.
This was because of some criticism his father got when he was the booker for Jim Crockett Promotions back in the 1980s.
When he was in charge and booking himself to win the NWA World’s Heavyweight Championships, fans complained that he was “booking himself too strong” and giving himself opportunities he deserve.
This resonated with Cody, who wanted to avoid the follies of the Rhodes family, thinking his position as the Executive Vice President of All Elite Wrestling would turn the crowd against him,
He detailed all of this in his greatest promo yet, where he declared him “undesirable to undeniable” before he went on to face Chris Jericho at Full Gear 2019.
In the same promo, he revealed that if he lost to Jericho that he would never challenge for the AEW Championship, for those very reasons already mentioned. He was the hottest babyface in the company at the time and fans thought he actually had a chance to become the second ever AEW Champion.
Sadly, his friend MJF threw in the towel on his before kicking him in the balls, costing him his one chance at the AEW Championship.
He Became The First TNT Champion In AEW
After losing his chance to challenge for the AEW Championship, Cody Rhodes changed his focus. First he set his sights on MJF who had cost him his chance to become the AEW Champion.
The pair wrestled at AEW Revolution 2020. MJF cheated to win but the most notable part of the event was Cody Rhodes new tattoo. He unveiled a giant new neck tattoo of his companies logo, which went down horribly with fans and killed any chance he had of being a main eventer in AEW.
He moved on to team with The Elite inside the first ever Blood & Guts match in 2020. The match was meant to pit The Elite vs The Inner Circle but was cancelled due to COVID. It was replaced by the Stadium Stampede match but by the time it came along Cody had been replaced by Nick Jackson.
During this time he became the first ever holder of the newly formed TNT Championship. This was his substitute for not being able to win the AEW title at al in his career. He defeated Lance Archer in the finals of a tournament at Double or Nothing.
He became a three-time champion, losing and winning back the title from the late Brodie Lee. He wrestled Brodie Lee in the former stars last ever match, something which Cody Rhodes admits to hating being part of.
“I hated the fact that I was his last match. Like, I loved it, and I love that feeling. But, I also hated it, because god, we were all denied all these other great matches.”Cody Rhodes on Talk is Jericho
Cody Rhodes Admits AEW Championship Stipulation Was A Mistake
Fans soon began to grow tired of Cody Rhodes in AEW. With no chance of becoming AEW Champion Cody Rhodes was lost in the wilderness.
His feuds seemed disconnected from the rest of the show. He had no interaction with The Elite. His rivalries seemed to drag on and on with nobody getting over in the end.
The part of the show with Cody Rhodes began to be referred to as “The Cody-verse”. This was a joke, based on the idea that Cody was so disconnected from the rest of the show on AEW Dynamite that he was in a different universe altogether.
This was a prison of his own design as he was reportedly in charge of his own booking during this time.
It was also his own decision to ban himself from challenging for the world title.
Cody Rhodes decided to add the stipulation that meant he could no longer challenge for the AEW Championship and cited the idea as “not the correct decision” and admitted that he should have been involved in the AEW Championship title chase for longer than he was.
Speaking to Ryan Satin for Fox Sports’ Out of Character, Cody Rhodes said about his AEW Championship blunder.
“But maybe it would have been better served for me at age 45 than it did at age, you know, 33, or whatever it was. I am just now entering the prime of my career. So to make political decisions, like boxing myself out of winning a World Championship, those decisions, in hindsight, were not the correct decisions and what I should have been doing.”
Cody Rhodes never won the AEW Championship but will be hoping to win the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania this year. He entered at number 30 and won the 2023 Royal Rumble match, last eliminating Gunther to win the historic match. This vindicated all the issues he had in AEW, as the WWE fans cheered Cody Rhodes without a thought of the self-imposed stipulation that stopped him winning the AEW Championship.