Cody Rhodes has clarified the reason why he left AEW for WWE in February this year. The former TNT Champion’s AEW contract ran out at the end of 2021, but Rhodes continued to wrestle on a handshake deal with Tony Khan’s promotion as he became a three-time TNT Champion and had a classic battle with Sammy Guevara on AEW Dynamite.
However, AEW announced in February 2022 that Cody Rhodes failed to agree a new contract and that he and AEW were parting ways. He was joined by his wife Brandi Rhodes in leaving the company, although his brother Dustin Rhodes remains committed to the company as one of the most decorated veterans on the roster.
Both stars had huge impacts on the company, both inside and outside the ring. Brandi Rhodes was the Chief Branding Office of AEW up until her release and was reportedly a well liked and helpful personality backstage. Despite her failed “Nightmare Collective” run early in AEW and her poor segments with Dan Lambert late in her career, her time with Cody in AEW was remembered fondly.
Meanwhile, Cody Rhodes left AEW as an Executive Vice President of the company. He had been so since the formation of the brand, being a key component of the company getting off the ground as one of the most popular stars in the company, owing that to his run in WWE.
There was plenty of speculation as to why Cody Rhodes left AEW for WWE in February 2022, with fans discussing wildly why he would leave a job on top of a promotion with untold creative control for the gruelling schedule of the WWE.
Two of the biggest suspected reasons behind his departure were creative differences with Tony Khan, and issues over money. He reportedly wanted more money than AEW was willing to offer, arguing for a contract more on the level of CM Punk despite being a much smaller star than the current AEW Champion.
However, Cody Rhodes claimed that those were not the reasons for him leaving AEW. In a tweet that has since been deleted (via 411Mania), a fan posted “I will not order #AEWDoubleOrNothing this weekend in protest of @CodyRhodes not being in #AEW @TonyKhan wants are money pays other people but won’t pay @CodyRhodes what he deserves.”
In response, Cody Rhodes revealed that those were not the reasons why he left AEW for WWE, instead stating that he simply wanted to “go for the big one” (in this instance, being the WWE and the WWE Championship).
He also claimed it was “just personal” and he was proud of everyone in AEW who he worked with. Cody Rhodes also later revealed the true reason he joined WWE in a promo on Monday Night Raw which is one of the best promos in WWE on a long time.
Cody Rhodes’ “Big One” is the WWE Championship His Father Never Won
Cody Rhodes revealed he left AEW to join WWE so he could win the WWE Championship, in order to make his father proud. In a promo on Monday Night Raw after he returned to WWE at Wrestlemania 38, Cody Rhodes revealed it was his dream to win the famous title for his father (“The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes).
Dusty Rhodes never won the WWE Championship, although he almost got a hold of it when he beat champion Billy Graham by count out in 1977. However, titles cannot be won by count out, so whilst he beat the champion he was not awarded with the WWE Championship.
At 8 years old, Cody vowed he would sign for WWE and bring the title home. Sadly, Dusty Rhodes passed away
“As I got hip to the industry I worked up a little courage, I asked him ‘I didn’t know you were champion like Hulk Hogan!’ He looked at me with the same eyes that Liberty (Cody Rhodes’ young daughter) has, and he said very stern and very patiently.”
“He explained to me that due to champions advantage (in a match against Billy Graham in 1977) he had won the match, but he did not take home the championship belt. So, I’m 8 years old. What’s a boy to do? Right then and there at 8 years old, I knew not what I wanted to do, but what I needed to do. I was going to win the WWE Championship belt.”
“I was going to bestow it into the hands of the American Dream Dusty Rhodes and say nobody can take it away from you now.”