There were two big flashpoints when it came to Cody Rhodes run as a performer in AEW, and they both seem to be tied to Cody Rhodes role as an executive in AEW.
He’s already expressed regret about one of them: the Anthony Ogogo feud, and his infamous “workshopped” promo about race in America. In his latest interview since returning to WWE, he’s now also admitting he was wrong about the other: booking himself to be unable to challenge for the AEW World title at the company’s third-ever PPV.
Rhodes expanded on his comments following WrestleMania about never wanting to be in management again while talking to Fox Sports’ Ryan Satin on the latest Out of Character podcast. In a wide-ranging answer, Cody points to the World championship stipulation as an example of the lack of maturity that made him ill-suited for his AEW Executive Vice-President role. He also again restates his claim that he’s the best pro wrestler in the world today:
“I think that role, I did well with it. I was very active. And I did start a department, the community department. And Brandi did bring KultureCity into the wrestling and sports entertainment space. So we were very active in terms of all the facets and assets of that gig.
“But I think that job was meant maybe for— we wanted a wrestling company brought to you by wrestlers, for sure, that’s a huge part of the mission. But maybe it would have been better served for me at age 45 than it did at age, you know, 33, or whatever it was. I am just now entering the prime of my career. So to make political decisions, like boxing myself out of winning a World Championship, those decisions, in hindsight, were not the correct decisions and what I should have been doing.
“I’m the best wrestler in the world, Ryan. I can tell you that without it sounding braggadocious. And it’s simply because this is all I do. I train to do it. I live and breathe it, I have a school here with four rings. I treat this like an athlete in the NFL would treat a game and their team.
“But with that in mind, I needed to go and be that. And I wanted to be both and it was just too difficult, and that’s where I did not have the maturity to balance it. It wasn’t a matter of being one of the boys versus not — because I’m no longer just one of the boys. I love it and wish I could be one, but I’ve been in this position before. I’ve been on the other side. I’ve been in these production meetings and things of that nature. And I’ve been part of the technical production. But I just think it would have served me better a little later in my life when I could look at a show and say I don’t want to be in the top spot.
“You need that good competition in your locker room, that positive, real competition. And if I can’t be the best wrestler in the world on television because I’m afraid I’m going to offend colleagues, because I am also their boss, that was the situation we were in, and I just played it in the middle. There was only so much of playing it in the middle I could do.
“Now, I’m not in charge of nothing other than me and being a pro wrestler. And I say to you, I’m the best wrestler in the world, and I’ve felt like it for years. But now we’re in a situation where I do have to be careful of how I say it because I’m not carrying the belt. Brock and Roman, they combined these championships and you have your Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. That’s the big one. That needs no weight. That’s the truth. The truth needs no weight. That’s the big one. I don’t have it. So that may be the main difference between me and the other best wrestler in the world is that one of them is wearing the title and one isn’t.”
Incorporating the mistake of taking himself out of the AEW World championship race into the story of his quest for the top prize in WWE is wild.
As with everything we’ve heard from Rhodes since his WWE return, I think there’s a lot of truth in this answer. But that doesn’t mean it’s not also carefully crafted to play into his current storyline and character. WWE and Cody have been doing an impressive job molding his image as a meta-babyface. Taking ownership of the things that were getting him heat from fans during his AEW run is just another example of that.
How are you feeling about the humble-yet-supremely confident American Nightmare after reading this answer?
If you need more to mull over, Rhodes entire chat with Satin is here.