Cody Rhodes Declares Himself as “The Competition” WWE Battled Against During AEW’s Massive Rise During Its Initial Years

Published 12/14/2023, 8:31 PM EST

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If you ask any fan today who the biggest face of the WWE is, there’s a high chance you’ll hear the name Cody Rhodes. Since his return to the WWE at WrestleMania 38, he has undergone a meteoric rise. Some fans will even say that the WWE higher-ups love Rhodes. However, there was a time before his return when Rhodes became the competition the WWE had to face in the pro wrestling industry.

Rhodes left the WWE in 2016 after spending a decade building a name and reputation for himself. After leaving, he formed AEW, which today is the WWE’s biggest rival promotion.

The primary goal behind Cody Rhodes leaving the WWE


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One of the biggest chapters in Rhodes’ storyline has been leaving the WWE and then making his return. During his departure, he established AEW and worked as the top performer. However, he returned to the promised land once his time was over.


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While on the YESNetwork’s The Michael Kay Show, Rhodes explained his journey after leaving the WWE. Rhodes left the company in 2016 after creative disputes based on his character. Rhodes said, “The whole purpose was to prove that I was better than the place I was on that card.” He didn’t want to be known by which promotion he worked for; instead, he wanted the promotion to be known for employing him.

He continued, “Throughout my tenure with AEW, I was the competition, the alternative.” To this day, Rhodes prides himself in helping create AEW, which quickly proved a massive rival to the WWE. With AEW, Rhodes provided a place for wrestlers tired of the mishandling by the WWE.


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He even mentioned that AEW brought an alternative wrestling promotion to cable television. During the initial run, Rhodes was dominant in AEW, making him the WWE’s biggest competition.

Rhodes created WWE’s biggest current rival

Despite the size of the WWE, AEW proved to be a massive competition. The London PLE All In broke a number of records and rivaled WWE’s WrestleMania III.


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This proved that fans wanted something new and exciting in the world of pro wrestling. Unfortunately, the promotion has been in hot water for quite some time due to Tony Khan’s lack of management skills.

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Written by:

Christopher Paul


One take at a time

Christopher Paul is a WWE reporter at EssentiallySports. With over eight years of experience as a writer and a childhood passion for pro wrestling, Chris is now a voice for kayfabe fans. He has a penchant for covering live events and enjoys breaking the latest developments in the WWE Universe.
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Edited by:

Amal Joyce