One of the first shots fired in the war between AEW and WWE was Cody Rhodes smashing a Triple H-like throne with a sledgehammer at AEW Double or Nothing 2019.
The smash was symbolic of Cody's belief in himself after his WWE departure in 2016.
"I think I wanted to make a statement on what we were doing, and I think what we did was clearly the biggest statement we could make. Afterwards, you know, I get really long-winded. Sometimes I say the wrong thing and, in this executive role, I’ve put my foot in my mouth so many times, whereas when I was a talent I could get away with it. Talents can lie. Talents can exaggerate. When you’re any type of management, you’re held accountable, which is a lesson for me to learn," he said.
The two companies would trade shots over the next two years, including NXT beginning their TV run on USA Network two weeks before AEW Dynamite debuted on TNT.
Cody discussed the back-and-forth between the two companies, saying, "But, yeah, I wanted to be clear what we were doing. You mentioned the barbs back and forth—that’s part of what we do. Trash talk is part of what we do, but also when they counter-programmed us for no reason other than to split our audience, I didn’t want to meet that in a cowardly fashion. I wanted to flat out say, 'OK, well, great. Our show is still going to be better and as crazy as this is, we’re going to win. So if you want to have this moment in time on Wednesday nights where we put all eyes on wrestling, we’re going to win.'
"I don’t want to go into any battle with the idea that we’re going to lose. I’m face-forward in the company on so many things, so I wanted to go in and let them know I am willing to fight. I am willing to openly smash this iconic symbol, and what it stood for and stands for to some fans. Yeah, there’s so much to that moment. That may be my favourite moment. The match was one thing, but that was something that . . . I hear this a lot in wrestling school and it blows my mind. People will be like, 'Well, the match . . .' They talk about matches with the sound off. 'Like, well, it’s different with the sound off.' That’s ridiculous. Wrestling never has the sound off. So I never, ever will regret that moment because when I turned to head back up the ramp, everybody in the building knew what we were about to do and everybody wanted us to do it, and we did it, and we wanted to make a statement. So that was a statement," he said.
Despite Cody and Triple H being on opposite sides in the Wednesday Night War, Cody admitted that he has respect for Triple H and called him a role model due to his work ethic.
"So I don’t know if I should share this, but, at some point, it’s going to come off my chest: Triple H is probably my favourite wrestler and was a role model. I only watched from a distance, but he reminded me a lot of my dad in the sense that I watched him do all the work, be this executive, and then go out there—and he was only part-time for the most part other than when I first started and had that run with him and Teddy and Shawn. He really was a model in terms of, “OK, you can do both, you can do both, but you have to be really disciplined. You have to take it really seriously.” And that doesn’t get you many friends when you’re the Hermione Granger of the company, and you just take it so seriously and are just a little bookworm," he said.
Cody also revealed that Triple H called to congratulate on his newborn baby. Cody and Brandi welcome Liberty into the world in June.
Cody is set to take on Malakai Black on the August 4 episode of AEW Dynamite.