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5 reasons why Cody Rhodes may eventually return to AEW

What are the chances that Cody Rhodes is playing the long game to make a big return?
What are the chances that Cody Rhodes is playing the long game to make a big return?
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Shubhajit Deb

News of Cody Rhodes' exit from AEW sent shockwaves across the wrestling world. It was difficult to believe at first, but the three-time TNT Champion who helped build the company is officially gone.

While many could not help but notice that Rhodes was having a tough time connecting with fans recently, a departure from Tony Khan's promotion was something very few expected. The fact that Rhodes held such a high position in AEW and still decided to leave is especially telling.

Cody has been at Tony Khan's side as the Executive Vice President right from the start and was a major factor in All Elite Wrestling's explosive success in the wrestling community. The AEW President has even shared his appreciation for the role Cody played since the promotion's inception.

Thank you Cody and Brandi Rhodes https://t.co/tkDvVpnrrE

While many have penned WWE as the American Nightmare's next stop, neither Vince McMahon nor Cody have yet confirmed the development. It's a definite possibility that the former TNT champion may make his way back to All Elite Wrestling.

Here are five reasons why an eventual return to AEW might be in the cards for The American Nightmare.

#5. Cody Rhodes had a lot of creative freedom in AEW

AEW announces Cody and Brandi Rhodes are leaving the company. https://t.co/zO9WIARAwU

The reasons behind Cody's departure from WWE in 2016 are no secret. His frustrations with the lack of direction from the creative department, particularly with his Stardust gimmick, are well documented.

It all became too much for Rhodes, eventually pushing him to leave the WWE bubble. He reimagined himself on the indie circuit, stepping into the shoes of his lineage and pedigree to become the Prince of Pro Wrestling. This path led him to AEW, where he found significantly more success.

Cody Rhodes was able to slip into a more mature role in AEW with his American Nightmare gimmick. Quite a few of his feuds in Tony Khan's promotion garnered a lot of attention and could be considered highlights of his career.

There is nothing to suggest that Cody will get the same amount of freedom in WWE. The issues that led to him leaving WWE are likely still there. Furthermore, Vince McMahon is considered to have quite a hands-on approach in managing his company, which means less creative independence for Rhodes.

A short stint in WWE might just be enough to remind Cody Rhodes of the much better opportunities he had in AEW. If that turns out to be true, fans might see the American Nightmare back in the All Elite scene much sooner than they anticipated.

#4. Cody Rhodes is not the type of wrestler WWE features on the frontline

Cody Rhodes has not signed yet with WWE, AEW return is still possible wrestlingnews.co/wwe-news/cody-â€Ļ https://t.co/8i0H3vw8i0

Amidst swirling rumors of Cody Rhodes' imminent return to WWE, it's easy to get lost in speculation and overlook important things. Things like the WWE Chairman's own preferences when signing and pushing talent.

Vince McMahon has made it abundantly clear what kind of wrestler he wants to represent his company. In pro wrestling, as in pop culture, everything old is often new again. AEW fans want to see traditional, sensible booking. Cody Rhodes revels in the nostalgia of the territory days. And Vince McMahon gives priority to tall, muscular men with old-school charisma.

This is made even more apparent by the fact that most of the frontline performers fall into this archetype, such as Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, and Drew McIntyre.

On the flipside, AEW seems intent on pushing variety as its primary focus. Dynamite's main events feature high fliers like Dante Martin, technical grapplers like Bryan Danielson, scruffy brawlers like Jon Moxley, and powerhouses like Wardlow.

Cody thrived with this open-ended style in AEW. In fact, his first two TNT title reigns ended at the hands of the 275-pound monster Brodie Lee and the 180-pound lunatic Darby Allin. In the end, that variety may be good enough to attract the American Nightmare back to the All Elite scene.

#3. AEW has been Cody Rhode's most succesful venture yet

Cody Rhodes has taken back his Twitter from the AEW Community Outreach group.This is really the Cody heel turn AEW fans had been begging for 😭😭😭 https://t.co/Zoqii8QsJj

In a career that has spanned more than a decade, Cody Rhodes has undoubtedly had the most success in AEW. His work during the initial months of AEW's inception firmly established him as one of the hottest babyfaces in the industry.

Additionally, his position as Executive Vice President led to him having a hand in the bookings, which went well for the most part. However, this becomes a point of contention as recent reports indicate that a gradual loss in that booking power contributed to his departure.

It was unfortunate that Cody could not seem to evolve as the company did. His babyface role, while hotter than fire in 2019, gradually grew stale. Instead of reinvigorating himself, Cody seemed to double down, consistently coming back for the TNT title and playing the part of the territory-era babyface even when it wasn't needed.

Most fans point to a heel turn as a necessary evolution of his character, but Cody was either unable to make the transition or simply refused to. In trying to make sense of his character, fans picked it apart, but this only further soured the crowds when none of their expectations paid off.

Nevertheless, the success Cody Rhodes found in AEW outshines all his accomplishments in the past. If the rumored WWE comeback does not work out, this might eventually make the American Nightmare turn back to AEW again.

#2. Cody Rhodes was a big deal in AEW

Cody Rhodes was much more than just a wrestler in AEW. He was heavily involved in the creation of the promotion and was given the post of Executive Vice President. Furthermore, he was one of the frontline performers in AEW's budding months before veterans like CM Punk and Bryan Danielson came along.

In contrast, Cody's rumored destination rarely bestowed any importance to the American Nightmare. Right from his days as Randy Orton's partner, Cody was always viewed as one of the lower guys on the totem pole.

Even in becoming Stardust and piggybacking off his older brother's established gimmick, Cody only had a modicum of success. Cody himself has indicated in the years since that he was unhappy with the character, but could only do his best with what he was given.

All these instances point out how much better Cody's situation was at AEW. In fact, greater money may be the only upside in returning to WWE, and even that may not last beyond a single contract.

#1. Cody Rhodes leaving AEW might set him up for a big return later

@CodyRhodes coming back to aew if this is a work at revolution would he be boo as a heel or the biggest pop in aew history I demand to see Pyro for 3 whole minutes what Cody superman return dark hair or the teddy bear pharaoh braindi cody #AEW #AEWDynamite #AEWRevolution https://t.co/4BcLDZUrX0

While Cody Rhodes' AEW run was definitely his biggest success so far, it would be dishonest to overlook the less-than-stellar events surrounding his character before he left.

In the last year, Cody went from fan favorite to one of the most polarizing characters on the roster. His determination to remain a white-meat babyface was soundly rejected by a large portion of AEW's fanbase. This led to him being treated like a heel whenever he made an appearance.

Cody was even booed in his match against Malakai Black, where the latter was clearly intended to be the heel. Fans were screaming for the American Nightmare to give in to his darker tendencies, but that never happened. Cody's promise to never turn heel in AEW seems to have been fulfilled by him leaving the promotion entirely.

However, it is being speculated by some that Cody's exit from AEW might have been a clever and layered decision. If his run outside of AEW doesn't work out the way he wants it to, returning to the company he helped create could finally reinvigorate him.

Rhodes might never need to turn heel to gain back his popularity with the fans. After some time passes, a big return to Tony Khan's promotion might be on the cards for the former TNT champion.

Edited by Jacob Terrell
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