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Six outsiders who should answer Cody Rhodes’ TNT Championship open challenge

Cody Rhodes has lit the wrestling world on fire with his TNT Championship open challenge. He has faced stiff competition within the AEW ranks. What makes this challenge special is that it is truly open to the world. AEW has brought in Ricky Starks and Eddie Kingston to prove that point. Cody’s next challenger is even more unknown, WARHORSE. Let’s have some fun imagining some other options to up the ante for who should answer Cody’s call.

There’s no reason why AEW couldn’t work a little magic with the NWA, ROH, and MLW to borrow a wrestler or two. None of those promotions are currently running shows, so AEW could strike while the possibility exists for easy access. That window would most likely narrow once those promotions are back to work.

This list considers realistic choices with a little interpromotional cooperation. That means no complicated coronavirus travel from Mexico, Japan, and Europe. It also means no current singles champions, such as Nick Aldis, Rush, Dragon Lee, Jacob Fatu, Alexander Hammerstone, and Myron Reed. I highly doubt NWA, ROH, and MLW would approve an appearance for their title holders to get beat by Cody with no trade-off from AEW.

Here are my top picks from the pool of the NWA, ROH, MLW, indies, and unsigned free agents.


PCO would be a wacky wild-card as the The French Canadian Frankenstein. Wrestlers like WARHORSE and Danhausen are interesting oddities, but I don’t believe they have a chance at beating Cody. PCO is a monster I can buy into, especially the idea of him ripping Cody’s arms off.

PCO is coming off a 78-day ROH World Championship reign that spanned from December 2019 to February 2020. He is arguably at the peak of his career. A fight with Cody could go full-blown wild and full of shenanigans or they can play it more straight. PCO can adapt to either style with his mix of high-octane brawling and aerial attacks.

Other ROH talent I’d like to see are Kenny King, Brody King, and either of the Briscoes.

Josh Barnett

Bring on The Warmaster. Barnett is a former UFC champ and has been occupying his time with the Bloodsport shows. It sounds like he is itching for a fight.

I’d love to see Cody take on that challenge. Barnett would be the favorite to win, in my book. I’m very curious what kind of game plan Cody and Arn Anderson would implement to be victorious against Barnett’s catch wrestling style. This would be a match where Cody has to play all his tricks to escape. It might even be a big enough bout for PPV.

Tom Lawlor

Lawlor is a former UFC fighter and former World Heavyweight Champion for MLW. His game is gritty enough and filthy enough to dethrone Cody. Lawlor utilizes his MMA skills, but his game has evolved to include modern hard-hitting pro wrestling maneuvers. This would be a slugfest for Cody, but at least they are in the same weight class.

Other MLW talent I’d like to see are Mance Warner and Low Ki.


Ryback is a polarizing figure among wrestling fans. It seems like either love or hate with little in between. That sounds like a recipe to make headlines. Ryback has been out of wrestling recently as he has been healing his body with stem cell procedures. He may be close to getting back in the ring, if he so chooses.

I’d love to see Ryback feed on Cody. A one-shot deal may be just what the Big Guy ordered. Cody has taken down big men in the past, but neither Archer nor Wardlow are as powerful as Ryback.

Other unsigned talent with cachet I’d like to see are Zack Ryder, Carlito, and Rusev.

Tim Storm

Storm has the resume as a former NWA Heavyweight Champion. His career is winding down at the age of 55, but he still has gasoline in his motor. If there is any doubt, check out his match against Nick Aldis in the NWA Powerrr debut from October 2019.

A bout against Cody would be more of an old-school classic style that Cody is fond of. Personally, I’d like to see it as one last major moment in Storm’s career. Storm seems like a classy fellow, and it would be nice to see him get one shot on the big stage.

Other NWA talent I’d like to see are Eli Drake and James Storm.

Sefa Fatu

I’m no indie expert, however, Sefa is a name that I’ve often seen pop up. He comes from the famed Samoan wrestling lineage, but his style is more Uso than Islander.

Sefa would be an interesting matchup for Cody as a hungry fighter. It could be argued that Sefa has the speed and power advantage over Cody. The champ may have to rely on his knowledge and experience to overcome.

Other indie talent I’d like to see are Chris Dickinson and Nick Gage.

Who tops your list for potential challengers to Cody and his TNT Championship? Which of these picks floats your boat? Which ones sink your ship?

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