Kenny Omega has given his thoughts on his fellow EVP Cody Rhodes’ shocking decision to leave AEW.
Kenny Omega and Cody Rhodes’ wrestling relationship began in 2016 when Rhodes, fresh from leaving WWE, debuted in New Japan Pro Wrestling as the newest member of the Omega-led Bullet Club. Over the following two years, however, Rhodes began a power struggle in the group as he attempted to take control from Omega.
Meanwhile, on their ‘Being The Elite‘ YouTube show, The Young Bucks documented the growth of ‘The Elite’ faction in Bullet Club that also featured Omega, Cody, and Hangman Adam Page. It was this group that ultimately began the revolution that was to become All Elite Wrestling.
The wrestling world was taken by surprise when Cody Rhodes. along with his wife Brandi, announced their departure from AEW, with rumours now circulating Rhodes is set to return to WWE.
In a new interview on Wrestling Observer Radio, Kenny Omega discussed Cody’s surprising exit from AEW, saying it shocked everyone in the company.
“Everyone was shocked. Wrestling is – we all know when our deals are up, especially the EVPs like we know when our deals are up. Especially in the case of The Bucks, they know when their options kick in, for myself I don’t have a deal like that, I’m up next year just straight up done. So I’d have to re-sign a new one, there’s no option.”
“We knew Cody much like The Bucks, there was that time. And when we would hear that there’s possibly some difficulty with the renegotiation or whatever. It was almost like – you never think it’s gonna go in that direction where the talent is going to opt for leaving. Especially since when this thing started, I would say the most passionate person about our revolution, the most passionate person about creating an ‘us versus them’ mentality was Cody. So it was strange for him to choose to just up and walk away.”
“However, that being said, feelings change. The environment around you is ever-changing, it’s constantly changing, and maybe the mission statement or the goal or the revolution or whatever you were searching for and trying to create, maybe that isn’t what it is anymore to you. Maybe that isn’t your inspiration or what gets you out of bed every day.”
‘The Best Bout Machine’ then went on to explain that he doesn’t think Rhodes left because of money.
“So I would always encourage everyone in wrestling and in life if your work isn’t fulfilling, if it doesn’t make you happy, you really should look for opportunities elsewhere in a place where you can feel creatively free. In a place where you feel your work is being creatively appreciated and fulfilled.”
“I’m guessing that knowing Cody as well as I know him, I don’t think it was an issue of money, I don’t think it was Tony not showing him enough cash to keep him invested with the company. Cody, he really believed in the vision, in the original vision that he brought to the table for AEW and I think the original vision that the team brought to the table when AEW was first becoming a promotion – we didn’t know where this would go. We had been optimistic about it, we thought we’d be where we are today where we’re considered a major promotion and we would have our fanbase and hopefully a lot of satisfied customers watching our product.”
Kenny Omega discussed where he believes Rhodes’ and the rest of the EVP’s visions may have differed, saying that they didn’t fully discuss it before AEW began,
“But I guess we never really sat down together and said ‘ok we have this opportunity to now change wrestling, how do you see it? How do you see it? How do we make this work?’ And maybe in the end we had The Bucks and their vision, we had my vision and we had Cody’s vision and all of our visions were different from one another. I would say mine was more similar to what The Bucks had envisioned and Cody’s was out there, it was much different.”
“You’re gonna get that I think when finally you’ve committed your life to an industry, to a business, and finally, someone goes ‘ok you’ve done this job all your life, you’ve been raised into this business with shackles on to a degree by someone or something, now those shackles are off, you’ve got carte blanche, what is it you wanna do?’ And I understand there might be some heartbreak if you were promised that or told that and it doesn’t come to fruition. I get it.”
Omega added that, while he has a great professional relationship with Cody Rhodes, the two aren’t great personal friends, so he can only speculate that Rhodes is using the opportunity to seek more happiness elsewhere.
“But again, although my professional relationship with Cody was great, he’s not a guy I go and get a Diet Pepsi with in my off time so I don’t know how he personally feels about anything. So I can only guess why he would leave and I think he saw it with his deal up as an opportunity to investigate something in wrestling or just in life in general that would bring him more happiness.”
“I don’t want anyone doing what we do in wrestling and being completely unhappy or miserable because that destroys you. It’s such a huge mental, emotional, and physical commitment that if you’re miserable while doing it, it can only lead to bad things. We’ve seen it in wrestling where that can lead to terrible things whether that be alcohol, pills, drugs, and that runs rampant in wrestling. I would hate for that to happen when what we set out to do was something extremely positive for professional wrestling or that was always the goal anyway.”
Omega says it was never his and The Young Bucks intention to start a wrestling war with WWE, and that maybe what AEW has become is no longer a good fit for Cody Rhodes.
“That’s sort of where The Bucks and I differed, we never wanted to go to war with Vince [McMahon] and WWE, we just wanted to give people an option and have a platform for our style of storytelling and our style of wrestling and I think when Cody had his way of going about things, I wasn’t sure how to follow up with that nor was I interested so there was Kenny doing his thing, The Bucks doing their thing and the Codyverse over there doing whatever it is that he does and then there’s the stuff that Tony [Khan] does.”
“Eventually, as the fans know essentially it’s Tony’s show and of course, he’s going to listen to our advice and take our suggestions to heart but AEW is very much Tony’s thing, Tony’s baby and we’re there to support it in any way that we can and it’s very possible that this version of AEW just wasn’t a good fit for Cody, to Cody. For me, I feel like he was one of the original four, there’s always gonna be a place for him.”
As for wrestling ability, Kenny Omega says that Cody Rhodes was an incredible asset to AEW but for now, he jokes that he heard The American Nightmare is on a flight to Saudi Arabia, where WWE’s Elimination Chamber is taking place.
“You saw it in his ladder match with Sammy [Guevara] he’s got incredible utility and he’s able to help our younger talent. So it’s nothing from an in-ring perspective – there’s no issues there. If I had a clear-cut answer I would tell you but I don’t know it and all I can say is that whatever he decides to do – I heard he’s on a flight to Saudi Arabia [laughs] – if that makes him happy then that makes him happy. Again, The Bucks and I weren’t in this for the war so all the guys and gals in WWE doing their thing, we wish all the best for those guys.”
H/T to Inside The Ropes for the above transcription.