In the build to his match with Anthony Ogogo at last year’s Double Or Nothing PPV, Cody Rhodes delivered a rambling promo that covered topics like politics and race as much as his beef with the British Olympian. En route to the big reveal he was taking his father’s mantle as “The American Dream” for the Ogogo bout, Rhodes awkwardly preached unity.
He may have inadvertently succeeded, because a lot of AEW’s core internet fanbase hated his speech. A lot of the negative reaction Cody’s still getting (and playing with in his character work) today can be traced back to that May 2021 segment...
In response to the blowback his promo received, Rhodes defended it. He also tried to share the blame with his backstage “focus group”, claiming his remarks were workshopped and approved (something he did walk back when he got flak for incorrectly using those marketing terms).
But no more. During his appearance on Rasslin’ with Brandon F. Walker, Cody said he stands by the content of the promo, but understands the criticism of the optics. He also admitted the whole angle didn’t work:
“I can, on record, just go ahead and say I regret that [promo], and almost everything about the Anthony Ogogo angle. Almost everything about it... I’m good now, and comfortable now... [Walker says he didn’t hate the angle] I didn’t hate it either. I was having a good time, Anthony is a former Olympian, he’s definitely someone who’s a developmental talent who’s gonna be — we’re training him, and we recruited him, and we’re bringing him up through the ranks...
“What ultimately — I’ve never gone on record saying this, but this is the perfect time. I stood by what I said in the promo... I stood by it because I thought the content was good, and I thought the intentions were good. However, a white guy talking about race relations, who has an American flag tattoo on his neck... I can see why people would use the terms ‘tone-deaf’ when it came to that. And then trying to defend it and all — and again, intentions were good, and sincere, and I was so excited about Brandi and the baby.
“But it just... that should have just been one where I went out and almost just winged it. Because everything in wrestling I work really, really, really hard on — like meticulous. You hear about Randy Savage, about his matches and his promos... there are wrestlers who tend to be more like Randy in terms of their preparation, and then there are wrestlers who are more like my dad, just cutting a promo on the produce at the grocery store, and it’s better than most stuff you’ll hear on television. But I tend to be more of the big-time thinker, planner, workshopper — all that stuff. I’d worked on that one really hard. That’s what made it even more like, ‘Damn, every now and then you’re going to come up to the plate and strike out’ ... over-planned it and just struck out.
“Although I stand by it. I don’t have any problem with the content, but once that had happened, it set the angle in a way that Anthony, as far as wrestling age is concerned, he’s like 18, he’s a baby. He doesn’t know what’s going on. It set the angle in like a tailspin where it just wasn’t a classic, UK vs. USA, fun-spirited deal. I was going to go over to the UK, we have the return match. Now I just never want to think about it again.”
While it’s refreshing to hear Cody admit this was a creative failure, there’s still some things in the quote to quibble with (e.g. the content being good, his continued use of “workshop” as a verb).
We can probably all agree we never want to think about it again, though.
Check out Rhodes’ entire chat with Walker here.