I should start all this with some boulder-sized caveats. Cody Rhodes is responsible for something a lot of us wrestling fans never thought we’d see, and that’s a genuine alternative to WWE on regular TV. Cody basically started AEW on a bar bet. He also is responsible for me becoming aware of companies and wrestling outside of WWE in this phase of my fandom, and without him I likely wouldn’t have discovered NJPW, at least not until much later.
Cody is running a very exciting company, that even with its faults is presenting some of the best wrestling television seen in years, and providing hope for fans and wrestlers that have felt underserved, underused, or underexposed. It truly is a remarkable accomplishment, that in less than two years to go from running an indie show basically to make Dave Meltzer look stupid to creating a company that had one section of WWE on the run.
All that said, Cody still needs to fuck off.
I get it, it’s his company and I imagine one of the perks of having your own wrestling company is getting to insert yourself wherever and however much you please. If Cody’s problem with WWE was that they didn’t utilize him enough or effectively, he’s certainly making up for that now with no one to tell him “no.”
But for months, Cody has been a waste of time. And he keeps wasting time. And the only reason he seems to be on the show is that it’s his show. Cody’s matches always take up a big section in the middle of “Dynamite,” and they haven’t been for a title or in a meaningful feud in forever. They’re simply there because Cody wants them to be. And seeing as how he’s VP, it’s impossible to watch Cody celebrate himself and not wonder, “Couldn’t a women’s match go here? So they’d have more than one per week, y’know?”
Lately, Cody has been even more unchecked. Time was wasted on a gender reveal for his and Brandi Rhodes’s baby, and honestly, the only two people who give a flying fuck about that are Brandi and Cody. TNT then announced a reality show following Cody and Brandi around, in what appears Cody’s never-dying quest to be The Miz. Cody wants to wear the suits, he wants to shape the same persona, he wants to be the same constant presence, even appearing on a game show as Miz once did. Look, I like The Miz a lot, but there’s two things. We only need one of him, and two, Cody is never going to be The Miz. The Miz came from reality television, is about twice the personality (the dude cut a promo during the ESPN Celebrity Softball game at the All-Star break a few years back. There’s no touching him). I have about as much interest in seeing as what goes on in Brandi’s and Cody’s personal life as I do combing through my own shit.
Cody was involved in the Shaquille O’Neal match, because of course he was, that at least acted as the launch point for Jade Cargill’s rise to stardom. It seems no one can go over unless they go through Cody first, except that doesn’t really work when everyone’s eyes glaze over as soon as he appears on screen.
In the ring, Cody’s quest to recreate everything he missed about WCW or right the wrongs done to his father lost their charm long ago. It was fun at first, as his exhibition of Southern wrestling pathos was different than anything else on TV. But with him off the top of the card, it’s just not anymore. It’s no longer a different style on offer and more just, “Cody Does What He Did In His Living Room As A Kid, But On TV Now.”
And yet Cody won’t let go, or cede the stage even for just a little bit. Lately, his feud has been with his buddy QT Marshall, who has all the charm and watchability of a plasma donation. He’s only getting the TV time because he’s close to Cody, and everyone knows it. And the time spent on this the past few weeks have been an excellent opportunity to grab a beer and wash the dishes. Yet it gets a big chunk right in the middle of the show every goddamn week and no one cares.
Last night was the absolute hilt, on what otherwise was an excellent, PPV-worthy card on TNT dubbed “Blood & Guts.” The main draw was the nearly hour-long main event, a War Games match between The Pinnacle and The Inner Circle. It certainly lived up to the name, as the violence and blading flowed.
But Cody wasn’t going to let a show dubbed “Blood & Guts” go by without showing the world that no one can bleed like him, at least in his own mind. In what I can only pray was the blow-off match for this utterly useless QT-Cody feud, Cody opened himself up again to try and put some sort of capper on it. That kind of effort for a match and program that flatlined on arrival felt like the definition of overkill. On a night about another blood feud, Cody had to simply insert himself into the night’s theme because how could it possibly go on without him? The fucking balls on this guy.
Perhaps I’m being too tunnel-visioned, and too laser-focused on the women’s division. But it is AEW’s biggest blindspot, and almost all of the problems would be solved by dedicating the 10-15 minutes that are currently used for whatever vanity project Cody has that week for developing more storylines in the women’s division. The company seems determined to waste the momentum derived from the Britt Baker-Thunder Rosa classic. Baker has only been doing promos, and got a three-minute squash match last night on one of the company’s bigger cards. Rosa hasn’t been seen at all. Jade Cargill has gotten a couple video packages. Kris Statlander has returned, but all of these happened one at a time. There’s more to be done.
I hardly expect “Dynamite” to go a long time without featuring any of Cody, Kenny Omega, or The Young Bucks, as they run the damn thing. But the other three are at the top of the card and hold titles. Cody is seemingly spinning his wheels, taking up TV time because….well, because. A break certainly wouldn’t hurt anyone, other than Cody’s image of Cody in his own mind.