Cody Rhodes Explains Why He Returned To WWE, Will Remain Silent On AEW Exit

Cody Rhodes is officially back in the WWE.

Rhodes made his return to WWE on Saturday at WrestleMania 38 as the mystery opponent for Seth Rollins. Rhodes famously left WWE in 2016 and went on to become one of the founding members of AEW. His AEW contract expired at the start of 2022 and the two sides could not reach a new agreement.

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Speaking to Variety, Cody explained his decision to return to WWE.

"I told Vince McMahon, Bruce Prichard and Nick Kahn — this very small circle of individuals — I told them what I truly believe and it’s that I’m the best wrestler in the world. And to go further with it, I actually don’t think there’s a close second. But with that said, the opportunity now exists to prove it, and that’s what I’m most excited about," he said. "It’s a completely different individual returning to the game. It’s a different brand. It’s someone who’s experienced all the wonders of independent wrestling, of traveling internationally, of being able to get on the ground with the fans that make this whole ship move. But different person or not, I’m still that little kid that I mentioned in an AEW promo that wants what my dad didn’t get, and I’m not going to say it out loud because I don’t want to jinx it. But, you know, he went to Madison Square Garden, stood across from Superstar Billy Graham and he held it in his hands, the goal of mine, and it was taken away because that was the context of the match. I understand that now as an adult, but as a kid, that was the only reason I ever wanted to get in, so that I could get what he didn’t get."

Rhodes departure from AEW came as a surprise to many given that he was one of the four Executive Vice Presidents alongside Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson).

Asked about his AEW departure, Cody said, "I chose to remain silent about my departure from AEW and I’m going to keep my word on that. There’s no shoot interview. There’s no nefarious tale that’s going to be told. There were all these different theories and none of them are correct. I mean, there were things about money and creative control. They were printed as fact and it’s been a very difficult two months to see that, when the reality is it was just time. It was a personal matter and we couldn’t move past it. I have nothing but respect for Matt [Jackson], Nick [Jackson] and Kenny [Omega]. I’m rooting for Tony Khan. His name is going to be in the history books as someone who helped to bankroll and support this entire alternative and revolution that AEW became but for me, it was just time to to move on. I get an opportunity at my dream, I get another chance at it. And you really can’t leave any stone unturned with that."

Following his departure from AEW, Tony Khan noted that he wanted to reach a longer deal with Cody beyond his option year.

Cody also noted in the interview that he will serve as an executive producer for A&Es documentary on his father Dusty Rhodes.

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