Cody Rhodes discusses the series of events that led him to AEW.
This Wednesday, Oct. 2, AEW and NXT will kick-off the Wednesday Night War when the two promotions go head-to-head on cable television. As one of four co-executive vice presidents of All Elite Wrestling, Cody has been at the forefront of the media tour leading up to the debut of AEW Dynamite on TNT. And he's been at the forefront of the Wednesday Night War as the only co-EVP to have worked under Vince McMahon and Triple H.
"Hunter [Triple H, Vince McMahon's son-in-law and heir apparent at WWE] took it very personally because he had done so much for my dad at NXT," Cody told Bleacher Report. "There was one conversation where he said, 'I'm shocked that you feel this way after everything I've done for your family.' But I told him, 'I'm not my dad. I can't stay here out of loyalty to you for giving my dad a job in 2005.' I get it, and the little boy in me really appreciates what you did for my dad. But I'm not him. He's not here anymore. I've got to be me. I think Hunter, he's been in wrestling long enough that he knew, 'Oh, this is a real one. He's not asking for more money. He's not asking for a title shot. Nothing would matter at this point.' I let the burn get too bad before I said anything, if that makes any sense."
Cody left WWE in May 2016 after being denied a request to drop the Stardust gimmick in favor of being Cody Rhodes again. Vince declining Cody's gimmick change kicked off the series of events that eventually led to the formation of AEW.
"It's very romantic, very like Game of Thrones-style with these warring houses," Cody said. "When I left WWE in 2015, I didn't think, like, 'I'm picking up that sword, we're going to war.' It's a wild, wild series of events. There were so many combustible pieces that led to all of this. You throw them together, and suddenly we are in a situation where I'm standing in front of the Turner Mansion with Brandi, in exactly the same spot Dusty took the team picture with WCW. And we're taking another team picture with a billionaire NFL owner who's a mega wrestling fan, ready to launch another national wrestling promotion. Had Vince listened to me when I really wanted to make the transition back to being Cody Rhodes, we wouldn't be sitting here. It's that fragile."
Instead of remaining in WWE, thanks to the advice and help of Kevin Owens, Cody linked up with The Young Bucks on the Independent circuit. The trio, along with Kenny Omega, SCU, and others, began making waves on Being The Elite, eventually leading to Cody and The Young Bucks running All In, billed as the largest Independent wrestling show in history.
"That's where I think they found my purpose in the group," he said. "My purpose in that group is as a promoter. We combine forces well. Kenny's a great bell-to-bell wrestler, Matt and Nick are tag team specialists, and they have this eye for the absurd and ludicrous. I bring my family's name value—not even my own: my family's name value—and my eye for the bigger picture."
On the eve of the Dynamite premiere, Cody credits the fans for putting AEW in their current position. Cody has been adamant that AEW will continue to listen to the fans moving forward.
"An old-timer wrestler will tell you, 'Hey, we lead them,' and that is not entirely incorrect. We do lead them because we present the product to them. But if they drastically want something different, it is OK to let them lead us as well. And I don't think we're afraid to let them lead a little bit. If the other company had been more aware, even 25 percent more aware, we would not be in the position or even have this opportunity."
You can view Cody's mission statement for AEW by clicking here.
Fightful will have live coverage of AEW Dynamite beginning at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Oct. 2.