Cody Rhodes Explains Why The End of His AEW Run Didn’t Work

Cody Rhodes’ final year in AEW was a strange one. While he was unquestionably viewed as one of the company’s top stars when he, The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega and Tony Khan officially launched the promotion in 2019, Rhodes would eventually fall out of favor with favor as fans gradually turned on him during his programs with Q.T. Marshall, Anthony Ogogo and Malakai Black throughout 2021. He’d then trade AEW’s TNT Championship back and forth with Sammy Guevara and would leave the company after dropping the title back to Guevara at the Beach Break 2022 special edition of AEW Dynamite. Months later, he’d be back in the WWE by making his surprise return at the WrestleMania 38 pay-per-view in Dallas.

One of the many criticisms directed at Rhodes throughout 2021 was his outright rejection of turning heel despite fans consistently booing him, going so far as to say “I will not turn” in promos. Rhodes admitted in a new interview with Sam Roberts this week that his approach was a bit too “meta” and that’s why he wasn’t connecting with fans.

Cody Rhodes on His “Heel” Run in AEW

“I think at the end of AEW, I was talking to my students about this the other day, it’s just a case of, I have never underestimated our audience in a sense,” Rhodes said (h/t “That’s why I use a lot of big words and promos and people will say, ‘Oh, he’s talking down to them.’ No, they’re not. They’re not down. Like these people, some of them are doctors. Some of them are lawyers. Some of them are industrial workers. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t mean they’re not educated, like the wrestling audience is as educated as any audience. But at AEW, I think trying to do what I was doing there at the end was just a bit too meta. ‘Hey, the thing we want is you to turn heel’, so for me to do that, to turn heel, is by saying verbally out loud, ‘I’m not going to do it’, which is being a heel.

“But that didn’t work, and in a sense, it did because I had a really fun match with Ethan Page where the crowd was just going nuts and I love the polarized crowds, the split crowds. I love the polarized, split crowds because obviously, I am part of the (John) Cena era of our industry so I loved it, but it might have just been over the heads of people, but everything was going in such a unique direction, you know, multiple shows and money was through the roof in the industry. It was really wonderful,” he continued.

WWE SummerSlam 2023 Card & Rumored Matches

  • Undisputed WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns vs. Jey Uso (Tribal Combat Rules)
  • World Heavyweight Championship: Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor
  • SmackDown Women’s Championship: Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Bianca Belair
  • Cody Rhodes vs. Brock Lesnar
  • Ronda Rousey vs. Shayna Baszler (Yet To Be Confirmed)
  • Intercontinental Championship: Gunther vs. Drew McIntyre (Yet to Be Confirmed)
  • Becky Lynch vs. Trish Stratus (Yet to Be Confirmed)
  • Ricochet vs. Logan Paul (Yet to Be Confirmed)
  • Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs. TBA (Rumored)