The wrestling world was shocked when Cody Rhodes, the founder and an Executive Vice President of All Elite Wrestling, did not sign a new contract with AEW, becoming an official free agent. His wife Brandi, the Chief Brand Officer, is also a free agent.
ESPN’s Mike Coppinger was the first to break the news. Tony Khan sent out a release following the announcement, via social media.
“Cody and Brandi Rhodes were integral to the launch of All Elite Wrestling. Cody’s ability combined with his boldness and his passion for our industry and his love for community outreach helped AEW deliver on our mission to give fans what they needed for far too long — something new, innovative and lasting.
“Brandi helped shape the AEW story, and I appreciate how hard she fought for us both in the ring and out of the ring, competing in the women’s division while advancing our efforts at inclusion and civic causes, including great partnerships with Kulture City and the American Heart Association. “
Thank you Cody and Brandi Rhodes pic.twitter.com/tkDvVpnrrE
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) February 15, 2022
Khan ended up wishing them the best in whatever they end up doing.
The back and forth contract situation between the Rhodes’ and AEW has been something that has been going on for weeks, thanks to a report by Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful. Cody’s deal expired in December, and he has been working without a contract. Both sides didn’t come to terms on a new deal following six weeks of discussions, per Dave Meltzer. Fightful Select is reporting Rhodes sought a big money deal. This comes during a time in which Rhodes has become distant from The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega, the other EVP’s and founders of AEW.
The question on everyone’s mind is simple: what is next for the Rhodes’? A return to WWE immediately comes to mind, as there is growing interest in bringing them back.
Cody left WWE in 2016 after requesting his release. He was a Tag Team and Intercontinental Champion with the company. Since leaving WWE, Cody has won the Ring of Honor World Title, the IWGP U.S. Title, and the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Title. Brandi also requested her release. She was a ring announcer with WWE, and has been competing all over ever since. Forming AEW, the two have been involved in multiple high-profile storylines.
Cody and Brandi have since sent out statements regarding their departure.
— Cody Rhodes (@CodyRhodes) February 15, 2022
The Rhodes family have been on TNT/TBS programming outside of AEW. They have been the stars of Rhodes to the Top, and Cody has been a judge on Go-Big Show. If they left AEW and the other programs to join WWE, this would be one of the biggest moves between both companies since AEW came into play in 2019.
Thank you ❤️ pic.twitter.com/mvs1lJS0UO
— Brandi Rhodes (@TheBrandiRhodes) February 15, 2022
Wrestlers who have left WWE for AEW include Jon Moxley (Dean Ambrose), Adam Cole, Chris Jericho, Ruby Soho (Ruby Riott), Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan), CM Punk, Malakai Black (Aleister Black), and Miro (Rusev).