Cody Rhodes is officially back in WWE.
Rhodes made his return to the company at WrestleMania 38 as the mystery opponent for Seth Rollins. Rhodes famously left WWE in 2016, reportedly over creative differences and feeling he could have been utilized better.
He went on to find success in ROH and NJPW before aligning with The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) and Kenny Omega to run All In, which was the precursor to AEW, where Rhodes, the Bucks, and Omega served as the four Executive Vice Presidents alongside President Tony Khan.
Rhodes' contract with AEW expired in January and the two sides could not come to an agreement on a new deal, leading to Cody becoming a free agent and signing with WWE.
Speaking on The Ringer Wrestling Show, Cody wished AEW the best as he moves on to a new chapter in his life.
"I'm so proud of AEW. I'm so proud of Matt, Nick, and Kenny, and I really want to see Tony move forward, no bad blood, in the best of ways and all the respect in the world, but the decision to come here was the easiest decision I ever made. It was just time. That show is doing well. Wrestlers are getting paid that weren't getting paid, and I had a small part in making that happen -- maybe a big part, I don't know, depends on who you ask -- I'm so proud of it, but it's one of those things, how much are you going to do for everybody else, until you say, 'I want one for me.' I felt like that tonight. I felt real good," he said following his victory over Rollins at WrestleMania 38.
When asked when the deal came together with WWE, Cody said, "One of the most special parts of it was Bruce (Prichard) and the Chairman himself [Vince McMahon] flew down to meet me. Had that meeting not led to anything, had it just been a conversation about 'wrestling, sports entertainment, so fun,' just a conversation on that, it would have been great closure on the last loop. I left here on the worst of terms. I talked all the smack on earth, but none of it matter. It was just, 'you went out and did it.' I remember saying, 'I have to be me. It has to be Kingdom. It has to be The American Nightmare.' To hear Vince say, 'Well, it's not broke. That's what we're buying.' Just vindication. It felt good. You spend all the time trying to prove the people wrong who doubted you and prove people right who were on board with you. In that moment, it was closure on the first loop and excitement for what's next. It's pretty clear what I came to do. Pretty clear. There is unfinished business. For my family, there is something we never got, and I want to be the one to get it."
Following his return, it was announced that Cody has signed a multi-year deal with WWE. He had reportedly left AEW due to money and creative differences but has remained silent on his AEW departure.
Speaking about signing a multi-year deal and the perception of his departure, Cody said, "Perception of me is all over the place. 'He's an egomaniac. He asked for all this money.' It's kind of fun to hear, but in reality, I grew up here. I was 20-years-old, I didn't know what a contract was. I was 19 when I went to OVW. Now, it's a different story. It's not so much about, 'this has to be this way,' it was just more of, I was the Executive Vice President of AEW, one of the founding fathers. I wanted to make sure that leaving, it was with the utmost respect and not, I hope no one is lazy enough here, which no one is, to make AEW jokes or bingo hall references or anything like that. Nothing against them, it was just time for me to move on. I had wrestled everybody that I wanted to wrestle. I didn't want to be a 15-time TNT Champion and hold the belt hostage. I wanted to move on to a different piece of leather. Nick Khan is another one, 'perception is reality,' everyone has these opinions on Nick Khan. That guy was the nicest guy I ever met in my life. The nicest guy. Bruce to come in, the Chairman himself. The courtship felt so good."
If you missed anything from WrestleMania 38, check out Fightful's full report on the show by clicking here.
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