Molly Belle: Cody & Brandi Rhodes: Thank You

I have struggled a little since the news dropped that Cody and Brandi Rhodes would be leaving All Elite Wrestling. Now, I’m not as naïve as that statement might be read to be by a certain sect of the internet wrestling community – I know how the business works. People come and go. Things change. Priorities evolve. It’s the way the world works. It is possible to be impacted emotionally by all of this even with that working understanding, I promise.

This feature is not so much a feature as it is an emotional release. What I enjoy most about professional wrestling is the emotion. It’s apparent in everything I write. If you’ve read me before – you know it. If this is your first time – you’ll know it soon. When a story is genuinely personal to a performer or if it is well written enough to transcend its platform, it just hits differently, right? Wrestling is at its absolute best when it can illicit very real emotional reactions. There may not be anyone better at doing just that than Cody Rhodes.

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The rumors have been around for a little while now, and while I never truly much considered Cody and Brandi leaving AEW, the news didn’t hit me hard when it first dropped. It wasn’t long though before my mind started to race, and the gravity of the situation started to settle in. This is where you tell me, “Yeah Molly, we get it.”

I’m not sure you do.

My reaction has nothing to do with rumors. It has nothing to do with where he may or may not end up. It has everything to do however, with what Cody and Brandi Rhodes have meant to my love of professional wrestling. So, when their social media posts popped up on my timeline, I read them. I slowed down and really ingested the words so obviously filled with such gratitude and reflection. The relationships made. The progress pushed forward. The memories. No one truly knows what any of that means to Cody and Brandi except them, but I imagine it runs deep.

When I finished reading, I found myself wiping my eyes. Listen, I cry all the time, especially over professional wrestling, so this isn’t exactly breaking news, but this particular instance caught me off guard. It’s like my heart was two steps ahead of my brain. I sat with the situation for a few minutes, cried some more, and then I realized why I was having such a difficult time.

In 2018, I was ready to walk away from wrestling. Something I had loved for 20 years – since I was a little girl – had become something I no longer recognized. Now, it wasn’t just one thing, but many. I could explain more, but I’ll just simply say that it wasn’t what I had fallen in love once upon a time with any longer. I had considered it for months by the end of that year, and though I was sad, I was comfortable moving on. Now, I do realize how this all sounds.

“Girl, it’s just wrestling!”

Believe me, I know.

But what wrestling has been for me in my life cant be defined. It has been more and meant more than almost any person who has ever walked in or out of it. When things got hard, it was there. When things got dark, it was there. When I was broken, wrestling held me close. And its never let go. It’s been my greatest love. Period.

So, when I tell you I was ready to leave it behind, understand the gravity of what that meant to me. So many of my very best memories were surrounded by this thing of ours – intertwined in its magical fingers which head held my hand through nearly my whole life. And it was over.

But then something strange happened – something almost meant to be. AEW. I don’t know exactly what it was, but the idea of a new promotion – born from an independent mindset – lit a fire inside of me. Almost immediately, my love for professional wrestling was alive again. I found myself searching out content, educating myself and learning about new people I had never heard of, and actually looking forward to shows again for the first time in years.

Everyone likes to talk about the lapsed fan – the fan who was brought back into the fold by something new and exciting (in this case, AEW). But I wasn’t that. I wasn’t someone they brought back. I was someone they saved. And they didn’t just save a fan – they saved a lifetime of love and happiness over this silly wonderful thing we all adore. I will forever be grateful they did.

You might wonder now why my tangent matters and what it has to do with Cody and Brandi. It has EVERYTHING to do with them. If there was no Cody Rhodes, there would be no All Elite Wrestling. It’s one hell of a statement, but it’s a true one. Without his belief in himself and his personal leap of faith – none of this is real.

Good thing it is though, right?

What he has done since – what Brandi has done since – from the community outreach in AEW, to Kulture City, to the American Heart Association, to AEW Heels, to an almost infinite amount more…their value as human beings is incalculable. There aren’t many people like them, to say the least. In addition, I have never heard a single less than glowing word uttered about either of them from fans who have had the pleasure of interacting with them. In this day and age, that’s a rarity.

I respect the two of them so much for how gracefully they handle themselves in such a wide range of situations. They don’t have to. It’s not a rule. You might wonder how hard it is to choose kindness and generosity, but when you are forced to deal with what they have on a regular basis from “fans,” kindness and generosity take on whole new meanings. In the face of hate and nastiness, Cody and Brandi consistently rise above.

I’m going to miss Cody’s mischievous smile when he’s up to something on screen. I’ll miss Brandi proving her haters wrong in the ring and making life-altering and very real differences to those who need them outside of it. I’m going to miss the promos, the voice-cracks that always made me cry, the selling, and the absolute unwavering pride in their eyes over something they had a hand in building. I’ll miss so much.

But none of that is gone. Not really. It’ll just look a little different now is all.

I absolutely adore that Cody went out on his back, putting someone over that he believed in enough to share the ring with on the very first Dynamite 2 ½ years ago. He worked without a contract and ended things with one of my favorite matches ever. I know that whether he is present or not, his influence will always exist in and around All Elite Wrestling. I feel the same about Brandi.

This isn’t goodbye. This isn’t even “see you later.”

It’s just…

Thank you. Thank you for your hand in saving what I love. Thank you for all of the memories. Thank you for the revolution.

Thank you most of all for being what wrestling needed when it needed it. You’ll never know what it meant to me and means still to this day, and I hope that you both carry with you such pride for all you’ve accomplished. I know in my heart that there is so much more on the way for two of the hardest workers in the game and two of the very best humans as well.

There are incredible things on the horizon. Wherever, whenever – we’ll be watching.

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