Cody Rhodes to WWE may inspire other AEW stars to follow

Cody Rhodes, AEW (Photo by Paras Griffin#SPORT/Getty Images)
Cody Rhodes, AEW (Photo by Paras Griffin#SPORT/Getty Images) /

The WWE versus AEW “war” has consisted of mostly one-way traffic to date. Big names like Bryan Danielson, Adam Cole, Ruby Soho, Keith Lee, and others left the biggest company in the business to head to one with perhaps the most momentum. The news of Cody Rhodes leaving AEW and being WWE bound is the first big “get” for Vince McMahon’s promotion. If this next phase of Rhodes’s career is managed properly, fans could see this as a catalyst for more individuals making that same leap.

By this time, the current knocks on WWE’s product do not need rehashing. The struggles that WWE has with its content have not hurt the organization’s bottom line, but it has had an impact in other ways. Several releases since the start of the COVID-19 global pandemic in 2020 have not helped the company’s perception with fans and performers alike. More voices are openly questioning whether the WWE is the “end all, be all” of professional wrestling any longer.

Names like AJ Styles and Kevin Owens may have re-signed with the company for their own reasons, but it’s clear more individuals are prepared to leave in order to make professional wrestling work for them.

This is where the play to obtain Rhode’s services come into play.

The wide expectation is that upon returning to WWE, Rhodes will lose everything that made his post-WWE run special. The pyro, blading, winding storytelling; there’s a narrative that will not follow him from AEW to WWE. And while that may be true, the minds within WWE must recognize that treating Rhodes’s return special and maintaining that momentum will go a long way in the eyes of other performers across the industry.

Contracts come up, and it is in the best interest of the talent to field interest from other employers. MJF hints at the idea of a free agency war for his services when his contract is up. And he should field all offers to drive up his price. What about others on the AEW roster? Darby Allin, Jungle Boy, Sammy Guevara, and others.

Fans may want them to stay in AEW forever, where they will continue to present some of the most engaging wrestling in the industry today, but what about their own interests? If they look at Rhodes and see that the WWE is treating his return well, and his experience is met with praise, that positive referral can go a long way in future free agency talks. Could it be enough to persuade other stars to make the jump? Only time will tell.

AEW fans should be excited about the partnership with DDT Pro. dark. Next

Cody Rhodes’s return may not be enough to build the level of excitement that immediately causes a shift in the perception of WWE content. But it can be a starting point. And if that becomes the case, he may be the first jump, but he will not be the last when things are said and done.