With WWE in Brooklyn tonight (February 13), and plenty of big things coming for the company and himself, Royal Rumble winner Cody Rhodes was one of Ariel Helwani’s guests at MMA watch afternoon.
As we’ve been reminded time and again over the past few weeks, Rhodes is a hell of an interviewer and WWE actor – on and off kayfabe. His conversation with Helwani is another great example, as he continues to walk a tightrope selling his WrestleMania storyline with Roman Reigns and the red hot storyline between Reigns & Sami Zayn that will be the main event at this weekend’s Elimination Chamber event.
But it was Ariel’s closing question that piqued our ears, as Cody asked what it felt like to watch the aftermath of AEW. Everyone out PPV last weekend for Labor Day.
Rhodes founded AEW with four main men for what became known as “Brawl Out” – Tony Khan, Kenny Omega, Young Bucks Matt and Nick Jackson. He had a relationship with CM Punk from his first run in WWE and their time together in AEW. Cody touched on all of that as he shared his thoughts on the events that left The Elite suspended and Punk still in limbo. It’s a reaction many of us can relate to:
“I had a great relationship with Matt, Nick and Kenny – I still do. Definitely tested by them being young executives. Tested by having different opinions on wrestling. But it’s our different opinions that made it strong. It’s what made us work. I want to do Crockett and Old School. They want to do PWG and West Coast. And damn, I loved it. It wasn’t – I loved it. That tension is what made us bond. We’re forever connected because of the things we did.
“I also had a great relationship with Punk. He was my dinner companion. They would order dinner for me in AEW every week as one of their ‘management perks’ or whatever. I don’t think he knew, I always had him on my tab, because I wanted to make sure His getting something… So we didn’t talk a lot, but I had a great relationship with– he still talked, and he was so excited to have him back.God, if you remember, when he came back, everybody was so excited about it.
“So when I watched it, just from sitting there, I wasn’t — there were some guys texting me, I remember one of them texting me, ‘Man, you’re the smartest guy in the room.’ And I wanted to write back, like, “F you, man.” I don’t feel that way. I feel like this thing we built got damaged.
“And I don’t blame anyone — sorry, I’m super Swiss at this point… I don’t blame anyone, but I hated seeing that. Because, as the company grows, and I hope it continues to grow, I hope people remember the mission in the first place.” Why were we there. And if you bring in people who don’t know the mission, things like that can happen. And I’m not saying that [Punk] I didn’t know the mission or anything like that, but I was shocked.
“That’s how I felt. I was shocked. Because I have – you won a title, it’s a feather in your cap. You won the Royal Rumble, it’s a feather in your cap. Building an alternative wrestling promotion is definitely a feather in the cap. I don’t want that to be erased. I don’t want to This goes too far.
“Plus, there are not as many jobs in wrestling as people think. There are about a thousand people working there, structurally, infrastructurally and in talent. I’m proud of them, and I want to make sure they can feed their families. And it was a very big and heavy position – I don’t think it was useful, was it? And I don’t know, maybe you can make it useful, maybe you can do something with it? But that’s how it felt.
“No heat on Punk, no heat on Matt or Nick or Kenny or Tony. I was bummed when I saw it. It’s not the way we pictured it. IF YOU ARE IN ALL IN… ALL IN SPIRIT. IF YOU EVER LOST SPIRIT, YOU’RE Lost. And I think the spirit faded away at that moment. Not that you couldn’t get it back, but it was just a problem.”
Thankfully, AEW may take a hit, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to fade away. But Cody is right about one thing. It’s so tragic that CM Punk might be done again with wrestling as a result of everything that really happened between him and the Elite.
Check out the rest of Rhodes and Confectioner’s chat here.