Why Did Dustin Rhodes Leave WWE?

Hamish Woodward

AEW star Dustin Rhodes has wrestled for nearly four decades in all the top promotions. He is set to retire in 2023 after an incredible career, but talk has turned to a potential return to the WWE at some point in the near future.

He has been asked about going back to the WWE after four years away for a showdown with his Royal Rumble-winning brother, honouring the legacy of “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes with one more match on the biggest stage.

However, given the reasons he left and some comments in interviews, it doesn’t look like Dustin Rhodes will return to the WWE to wrestle against Cody Rhodes. Keep reading the rest of this article to find out why.

Why Did Dustin Rhodes Leave WWE?

Dustin Rhodes left the WWE in 2019 so he could join All Elite Wrestling to wrestle his brother Cody Rhodes. This was because things were getting stale in the WWE as his character “Goldust” and Rhodes was considering retiring from wrestling.

However, joining AEW lit a fire under him and reignited his passion. He stepped into the ring with his brother at Double or Nothing 2019 and wrestled in one of the greatest matches of all time.

At the first AEW pay per view, Dustin Rhodes wrestled Cody Rhodes in the middle of the show. Despite the build up being a sole interview each, the match felt huge and was one of the selling points of the show.

The match was incredible. Dave Meltzer awarded it five stars and praised the storytelling and emotion in the match. Both men bled an incredible amount and hit some moves that nobody expected either men to ever use. It was a far cry from the Goldust vs Stardust match that stunk out Fastlane 2015 in WWE.

When speaking about why he left WWE to join AEW, Dustin Rhodes said;

“With the WWE, I’d had enough. It was time for me to go. It had been such a long, storied career with the Goldust character and, you know, I really thought that I was going to retire. And then I got pulled in and my passion got reignited when I wrestled my brother, and we had the match of the last decade, probably, if not the last two decades.”

“We are an alternative to the WWE programming. We are something very, very special that the fans have commanded and wanted for a long time and we are giving it to them. So me, personally, I’m not looking at NXT saying, ‘Oh, my God, they done this this week, we need to do this,’ and go back and forth. I don’t like that, I’m not focused on that, I’m focused on my kids, our kids here at AEW because they are the future right now to me and our company.”


Dustin Rhodes Joined AEW To Wrestle His Brother, Cody Rhodes

When he left WWE, Dustin Rhodes really only had one goal – to wrestle his brother. He and Cody Rhodes had faced off once before on pay per view. This was during their time in the WWE.

At the time, Dustin was working under the legendary “Goldust” gimmick. He had wrestled under the moniker for nearly two decades but was in his physical prime as a wrestler, following a battle with addiction.

Meanwhile, Cody Rhodes was portraying a Goldust-inspired character named “Stardust”. He worse a similar bodysuit, painted his face and acted erratically, much like the classic Goldust character. This match was disappointing and the referee miscounted to ruin the ending of their first and only WWE encounter.

The match was also special as their father, Dusty Rhodes, was able to see the match in the flesh. He would die soon after and would not be present for their match at Double or Nothing 2019.

When speaking about wrestling Cody Rhodes in AEW, Dustin Rhodes said it was “a great match” and that it had “such a story”. He also complimented the AEW schedule which has allowed him to wrestle at higher level than ever before. This was one of the reasons why he left WWE in 2019 to join the company.

“It was such a story, a great match. The schedule is a lot different, so it takes some getting used to. We were on the road so much up there that you don’t have any time at home with your family and here, with AEW, I love it man! The scheduling is great. I leave Tuesday to go to the production meeting, Wednesday’s TV, come home Thursday and whatever else I want to do I’m free to do, which I did not have that freedom to do anything that I wanted to do outside of wrestling up there,”

We Wont See Goldust Back In The WWE To Wrestle Again

Dustin Rhodes has been asked many times if he’ll return to the WWE to wrestle Cody Rhodes again. Cody is now a top star in the company and recently returned to the WWE from AEW and won the 2023 Royal Rumble. He is set to main event Wrestlemania 39 against Roman Reigns, but a match against Goldust could be on the cards for the American Nightmare.

However, Dustin Rhodes does not want to come back to the WWE to wrestle against Cody Rhodes. He stated that nothing would live up to the expectations fot he first match, given that he considers it one of the matches of the past two decades.

“I could never do anything like that ever again. Everybody’s saying, ‘Man, you guys need to have a second match,’ and it’s like, ‘No, I’m not touching that.’ I can’t because it won’t live up to the expectations,”

As previously stated, Dustin Rhodes in enjoying the AEW schedule too much and is loving being the head of the Nightmare Factor. He is training the next generation of AEW superstar, with the likes of Hook, Anthony Ogogo and Brock Anderson being part of his class of pro-wrestlers.

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