Cody Rhodes has experienced a reaction in AEW lately of being booed by fans. Most pundits would see this as a bad thing for Cody and the AEW brand. Some may say it’s because he has “gone Hollywood”. It’s a big chance for AEW to leverage a phenomenon that has been a relevant shift for decades.
Cody Rhodes getting booed should be embraced by AEW.
The line between good and the bad guys is a concept that has given us some of the best moments in entertainment over the years. There was a shift in the wrestling world and entertainment when it comes to viewers’ reactions to bad guys and good guys. The history of good guys getting booed over the bad guys is why Cody Rhodes getting booed in AEW is a unique chance.
In the mid-nineties, there were wrestlers like “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels, and the legendary nWo. They all started gaining favorable reactions when they were supposed to be heels. it was the start of the cool bad boy personas that made it easy to cheer for them over good guys.
Skipping forward to 2002, The Rock was a face and experienced a flip flop as he went against Hollywood Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 18. Ironically, The Rock was cheered occasionally under a heel persona. This time The Rock was booed by the crowd on the grandest stage of them all.
There were numerous other similar flip-flop reactions including mega heel Chris Jericho and Triple H gaining favorable reactions over certain stars. It carried over to John Cena getting booed and the bad guys getting cheered. WWE shrugged it off and ignored the reactions to Cena, which it can be debated if that was the right or wrong move.
This brings us to today with Cody Rhodes in AEW. His rivalry with Malakai Black was enough to bring the flip-flop situation to AEW. Malakai’s dark charisma along with his strong ring presence has made him an obvious favorite from the moment he made his AEW debut.
Cody has qualities seen by numerous good guys in other companies as the default protagonist. They may not be who you would choose to be the good guy in that particular story, but they are without a doubt the good guy.
The reason this isn’t a bad thing for Cody Rhodes is that he is the perfect guy to walk that blurred line. Cody has always been the guy where many will like him but yet many will not like him. Out of everyone, Cody seems to be on the road to handling it better than other superstars who have faced the same situation.
For years, there has been a need for a good guy to be universally cheered and for a bad guy to be booed. When trying too hard, it actually makes the face character look and sound like a narcissist when trying to get their desired reaction. It instead should be fully embraced and worked around creatively as a way to change the game.
Some fans may cheer or boo regardless of where that superstar stands on the good guy and villain scale. Fans will cheer for whoever they like as an individual and there’s no way to control that. Some companies like to use tricks and pipe-in sounds to give an artificial reaction, but that isn’t the solution and shows desperation, which will make the boos in the arena louder than before.
Sometimes the biggest bad guy in someone else’s story is the one who proclaims himself as the good guy. That’s just the reality when dealing with Cody Rhodes and it would be revolutionary to break down that wall.
It could lead to far more creative opportunities for AEW beyond what they have currently had with a blurred line. The good guy may not always make popular moves and the bad guy may be understood more.
One can hope AEW takes on and embraces it to truly make who the bad guy and good guy are relative to individuals. It will surely be a game-changer for entertainment as a whole. Until then, all of us will have to wait and see whether AEW will take this revolutionary step.