At first glance, the report from Fightful Select this morning (Jan. 17) that Cody Rhodes AEW contract expired at the end of 2021 doesn’t seem like a huge deal.
Sure, if he’s been working without a contract for the last several weeks that technically makes him a free agent. But Rhodes is a founding member of AEW; along with The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega, he’s one of the four wrestlers who started at Tony Khan’s company with the title of Executive Vice-President. He won his third championship with the company on the Christmas night edition of Rampage. That would be right around when his deal was apparently expiring, and probably not a decision Khan would make if he was worried about Rhodes leaving.
And why would he worry? In addition to Cody’s dual roles, Rhodes’ wife Brandi is also a talent and an executive for the company. He’s one of the faces of AEW’s Community Outreach program, and the star their partners at WarnerMedia have latched onto — both for his & Brandi’s Rhodes To The Top reality show, and as a celebrity judge on Go Big Show. WWE is the only other place he could go in the industry that would offer him a similarly high-profile spot, and Cody was famously frustrated there before negotiating his release in 2016.
That hasn’t stopped fans online from letting their imaginations run wild. We’ve heard lots of whispers about issues between the EVPs over the past year (which, to be fair, Rhodes, Matt & Nick Jackson, and Omega have all shot down). Then there was recently a rumor about WWE bringing in a “forbidden door” talent for the 2022 Men’s Royal Rumble, a la Impact Knockouts champion Mickie James in the Women’s match. My personal favorite is the worked-shoot aficionados thinking this news leak could be a step in Cody’s meta heel turn and/or give him a way to renege on his promise to never chase the AEW World title.
Since Fightful’s story came out, AEW has reminded their audience Rhodes returns to Dynamite on this Wednesday’s episode. Lots of folks have also pointed back to this quote of Cody’s from an interview he did in early December with Sports Illustrated:
“As of now, my future is with AEW. AEW would be very strange without the core members of the revolution. We all still talk. We all have this admiration for each other. I can’t see myself anywhere else, and I’m very optimistic about what the future holds.”
Interesting times. Let us know what you make it of all, Cagesiders.