What if Cody Rhodes never left WWE?
Nowadays, one of the biggest sources of rumors, speculation, and reporting from the wrestling world is All Elite Wrestling. The new company is the brainchild of Cody Rhodes. The grandson of a plumber did the unexpected when he asked for his release from WWE in 2016.
In doing so, he launched a second chapter to his career working with Ring of Honor, New Japan, Impact, and a variety of other smaller promotions, collecting no lesser titles than the ROH World Championship and NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship along the way. This part of his career transitioned to him working as a promoter in the tradition of his father, including teaming up with The Young Bucks to stage All In, which established a foundation for AEW.
In 2019, it’s hard to imagine a non-WWE wrestling world without the influence of Rhodes. But what if he hadn’t left WWE in 2016, but rather hung around for what—given his family name and skill—probably would have been a contract that lasted him the rest of wrestling days and perhaps beyond? This article takes a look at what might have been if Rhodes never left WWE.
#5 The Return of Cody Rhodes
Cody Rhodes’s WWE legacy may be defined by his character work—going from a plucky young underdog face, to a key member of the heel Legacy faction, to Dashing, to a super villain, to a face anchored in his family tradition. For nearly the final two full years of his time with the company, however, Rhodes played Stardust.
Stardust looked an awful lot like a smaller version of his half brother Dustin’s Goldust gimmick, but without the edge or sexual overtones that had made that character ahead of its time. Stardust was eccentric with little direction, as he went from an oddball face to lower card heel.
Rhodes has openly talked about campaigning to drop the Stardust gimmick, which indeed felt like a dead end character with a mid-card ceiling. He has most notably indicated that he pitched playing Stardust on one brand and Cody on the other, and that the rejection of that concept was one of the last straws that made him ask for his release.
Had Rhodes remained with WWE indefinitely, we have to assume WWE would have eventually let him drop the gimmick, if only because it was low profile enough that there was little reason to keep him unhappy.