Cody Rhodes famously jumped ship from AEW to WWE and made his surprise debut at WrestleMania 38 against Seth Rollins. Rhodes was the first major AEW star to make the switch after years spent helping to build Tony Khan’s promotion into a legitimate national contender. After seeing Cody’s success in WWE, some AEW stars have opened up to the idea of someday doing the same.
Rhodes has been treated as one of the top stars on WWE’s Raw brand. His feud with Rollins will be the main event at Sunday’s sold-out Hell in a Cell premium live event. Cody Rhodes has served as evidence that WWE will not immediately bury a wrestler who makes the big move.
In this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer discussed how Cody Rhodes going to WWE has changed some perceptions in the AEW locker room. Many would have never previously considered going to WWE. After seeing how well Rhodes is being treated, minds are beginning to open to the thought of working for Vince McMahon.
“Up until recently, most AEW regulars and top stars privately were not talking about going to WWE. Some indicated never wanting to leave. Many, because of their size and the new direction of NXT, saw no future in it. Obviously the success of Cody Rhodes in WWE, plus his earning more money, has changed some minds.”
It remains to be seen how WWE would treat a “true” AEW original. Cody Rhodes spent a long time with the company before becoming frustrated with his creative direction and leaving to reinvent himself. There was an existing relationship spanning decades between WWE and the Rhodes family.
Cody Rhodes has set the standard for what happens when an AEW talent jumps ship to WWE. Thus far, he is the only one. It remains to be seen what would happen if a less-established name made the move, but at least some AEW stars would be more willing to consider it after Cody’s success.
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