Cody Rhodes' AEW run was a strange one; while he found plenty of success in the company he helped found, the former Executive Vice President also locked himself out of the world title picture fairly early on and ended up being part of a lot of divisive storylines. Ultimately, fans turned on him, though he's received a hero's welcome after returning to WWE at WrestleMania this month.
During a recent interview with Ryan Satin on his Out of Character podcast, Rhodes said he was pleased with much of what he did in AEW, but believes he taking on an EVP role was the wrong decision.
"We wanted a wrestling company brought to you by wrestlers, for sure, that’s a huge part of the mission," he recalled. "But maybe it would have been better served for me at age 45 than it did at age, you know, 33, or whatever it was, I am just now entering the prime of my career. So to make political decisions, like boxing myself out of winning a world championship, those decisions, in hindsight, were not the correct decisions and what I should have been doing."
"I did not have the maturity to balance it. It wasn’t a matter of being one of the boys versus not because I’m no longer just one of the boys. You need that good competition in your locker room, that positive real competition, and if I can’t be the best wrestler in the world on television because I’m afraid I’m going to offend colleagues, because I am also their boss, that was the situation we were in and I just played it in the middle. There was only so much playing in the middle I could do."
It's easy to see why Rhodes struggled in that role, and The Young Bucks frequently come under fire (rightly or wrongly) for seemingly booking themselves and their friends as AEW's top tag teams and not giving other wrestlers the chance they deserve. Rhodes tried to avoid any accusations of that by taking the world title off the table, but his role in the company is clearly one he grew unhappy with.
As time passed, it did feel like he was becoming a mid-carder (especially after the arrival of CM Punk and Bryan Danielson), so we'd argue that now was the perfect time to return to WWE. There, he's being pushed as a main eventer, and without the pressures that come with also working backstage, he now has the opportunity to show us what he can do as the potential new face of RAW.