A new report has claimed that in the months ahead of his shock exit from AEW, Cody Rhodes had become “expendable” to the company as more big names were signed.
Over the course of 2021, AEW added some huge wrestling names to its roster having signed Daniel Bryan and persuaded CM Punk to come back to the squared circle seven years after his last match.
The former WWE Superstars were given substantial contracts that made them some of the top paid stars in AEW. This meant that those who previously had the biggest contracts, including Cody Rhodes, were no longer the top earners.
Wade Keller of PWTorch has now reported that this might have played a part in Rhodes’ decision to leave AEW, with Tony Khan unwilling to pay the former TNT Champion the amount he was asking for.
The report also claimed that Rhodes had become a “liability” backstage, something Khan was ok with while Cody was still driving numbers.
“It’s weird, because if it was nine months ago…Tony might have signed him for what Cody was asking for, or at least negotiated in good faith to a reasonable compromise. But Cody became a bit of a liability, Tony publicly would say, and he told me [that] ‘Cody still drives numbers, so I’m okay.’ But that’s not the biggest compliment.
It’s not like, ‘Oh, I love Cody, and we’re on the same page.’ I was just like, well, you know, the undercurrent of what he said was, ‘yeah, he’s a headache, and every segment is a car wreck, but he’s still drawing numbers. So I guess I’m okay with it for now?’ Like, that’s how I read. — I kind of read between the lines on his choice of wording.
I think the segment with Brandi two weeks ago did not help, didn’t belong on TV. It was just a disaster. But there’s been a lot going on with Cody. Pre pandemic, Cody was at the forefront of production meetings and, and really involved…”
Keller went on to explain that despite Rhodes no longer had the same leverage he did when he was seen as essential to the company and was now “expendable”.
“But Cody wanted to be a superstar, and AEW signing big money contracts, especially with Bryan Danielson and CM Punk, changed the dynamic to a degree with Cody. And I’m not saying this wouldn’t have happened if that didn’t happen.
But Cody knew and Tony knew that Cody became expendable. You know, he went from a clear essential top tier guy, top four talent in the company. And you know, Cody was fine obviously with Moxley being signed, and with Jericho being signed. Jericho was a huge boon to the AEW brand at the beginning. And Moxley was a great acquisition and disgruntled with WWE and not really a threat to Cody, because he was just so different than Cody, even if they’re not too far off in age.
But Danielson and Punk and then Adam Cole to a lesser extent, changed things certainly more than Malakai Black or Miro or Christian changed things. And it did give Tony a sense of ‘I have enough top guys and then young guys on the rise’ that it took some leverage away from Cody, in terms of ‘you need me pay me’ and there’s only so much salary cap room that Tony has to spread around. And he had the good fortune to have Punk and Bryan Danielson and Adam Cole become available to him, but they were expensive.
Cody was no longer a top paid guy. And my understanding is he wanted to be and to a degree that just wasn’t seen by Tony as what he was worth to him in the current landscape. But it’s complicated and there’s not a single factor that plays into this because Cody might have been worth it if he weren’t getting booed and he wasn’t the subject of ridicule online and in buildings and frankly, behind the scenes in various ways.”
The report also noted that Cody Rhodes had pulled away from the rest of the AEW locker room by having his own private bus and – while he was open to hearing ideas and offered advice when asked – not being as available as the other big names.
H/T to wrestlingnews.co for the above transcription.