AEW star Cody Rhodes has been a free agent since the end of 2021, per reports. It is shocking as he has served as one of the Executive Vice Presidents of the promotion since its inception in 2019.
Last year, Rhodes spoke about his future plans and reiterated that he doesn't see himself wrestling anywhere else. While it is unfathomable to think of the company without its core founders, speculation will persist as long as Cody doesn't sign a new contract.
The TNT champion is slated to return to this week's Dynamite even though he can appear in other promotions. WWE legend Booker T recently explained that if Cody leaves, it could be for something much bigger outside.
While there are a handful of opponents for him to face upon his return, his contract expiry might not make that possible unless he re-signs. Instead, here are five possible final opponents for Cody in Tony Khan's company.
#5. Bryan Danielson could face Cody in a dream AEW clash
Cody Rhodes and Bryan Danielson were mid-carders trying to establish themselves in WWE during their last outing. Fast forward a decade later, they are two of the biggest wrestlers in AEW. With Rhodes' contract ending, the window might soon close for the two stars to fight again.
Their dynamic will certainly be enjoyable as Danielson is currently a heel while Rhodes is a hated babyface. Since the former's debut in the company, he has been in excellent form.
While Danielson needs a new rivalry after his loss to Hangman Page, Rhodes needs to regain his popularity with the fans. Pitting them against each other would be a great way to give the audience a dream match as well.
#4. Eddie Kingston could challenge Cody for the AEW TNT championship
Eddie Kingston's AEW career has been the feel-good story of the last few years. Ironically, it was Cody Rhodes who gave him a chance during his initial run as TNT champion. The Mad King responded to one of his weekly open challenges for the title.
“Physically, I gotta get in better shape. Do you know what I mean? I try every day, folks... It’s gonna be a little rough, but I’m trying, and I’m trying because I want to be world champion, and I want to be a champion of AEW and I want to represent the company. I know what I have to do to step up.”
It would be an interesting twist of fate if Kingston is the one who ends Rhodes' TNT championship run. He can carry the title forward and help out the younger guys on the roster.
It would be another full-circle moment if he were to bring back the weekly open challenge that gave him his opportunity in the first place.
#3. CM Punk could help turn Cody heel in a marquee match
CM Punk has arguably reclaimed his spot at the top of the pro wrestling industry. His AEW run has been excellent, proving that he is still one of the best in the ring and on the mic.
Punk was, of course, the WWE Champion at the same time Cody Rhodes was Intercontinental champion more than a decade ago. They are now considered veterans of the industry.
With the crowd solidly behind Punk, this could be a way for Rhodes to complete his long-awaited heel turn on his way out of the company.
#2. Kenny Omega could face Cody in a battle between two AEW EVPs
There is a lot of history between AEW EVPs Kenny Omega and Cody Rhodes. Both wrestlers were part of the Bullet Club, even engaging in a bitter civil war during their time in NJPW.
Back then, Cody turned heel in the process and became a bigger star than ever while battling Omega.
Right now, a reignited rivalry between the two founding members will be a landmark moment in the history of the company. It will also have far-reaching consequences for the future, or at least in terms of who Tony Khan sees as the bigger star.
#1. AEW World Champion Hangman Page could defend against Cody
Twitter user @jessithebuckeye laid out a potential angle that could help close the loophole on Cody Rhodes previously being unable to challenge for the world championship.
The "American Nightmare" has honored the stipulation following his loss against then champ Chris Jericho at Full Gear 2019.
But given his current free agency, this could be the perfect scenario for Cody to challenge current titleholder Hangman Page based. Imagine if he wins the top belt in the company and chooses to walk away like the famous 'Summer of Punk' storyline. The heat on him will be explosive.