Cody Rhodes announces AEW departure, headed back to WWE - report

Cody Rhodes' contract status had been a source of contention for a while, and now his departure from AEW is official.

Cody Rhodes in a file photo. (Twitter)
By Shayne Dias | Feb 16, 2022 | 2 Min Read follow icon Follow Us


Cody Rhodes, one of the founding members and an executive vice-president (EVP) at All Elite Wrestling (AEW), shocked wrestling fans around the world on Tuesday (February 15) by announcing his departure from the company.

Rhodes’ contract status had been a source of contention for a while. Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful Select had reported earlier in the year that Rhodes’ was working for AEW but was a free agent.

Rhodes himself confirmed as much in a backstage interview aired on AEW’s YouTube channel. He said his deal was up and he was working on a ‘handshake agreement’.

At the time, most speculated it was building to Rhodes’ slow heel turn. The American Nightmare had begun to embrace the boos of fans and a turn seemed likely.

However, it now seems that will not be playing out on AEW TV. In a long statement released on Twitter, Rhodes thanked everyone involved with the company.

“I’m so proud of my creations and contributions and the items I supported or collaborated on with such wonderful professionals. Thank you, fans. Y’all did the work! Let’s live forever,” he signed off.

It’s worth noting that Cody’s wife Brandi Runnels, herself not only a talent but also AEW’s Chief Branding Officer (CBO), also will be leaving along with him.

As soon as this broke, news began circulating that he was on his way back to WWE. Fightful Select said it’s a possibility, while the same was confirmed by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

Cody Rhodes’ departure a big blow to AEW

Nevertheless, it is safe to say that his departure comes as quite the shock to fans of the fledgling promotion. After all, Cody Rhodes was a key part of AEW coming into existence.

It was Rhodes and The Young Bucks – Matt and Nick Jackson – who took on Meltzer’s challenge to get Ring of Honour to sell 10,000 tickets to one show.

It eventually evolved into a self-funded indie show with ROH’s official sanctioning. The show, titled All In, was a resounding success – it did about 50,000 buys on pay-per-view and 11,263 fans paid to be in attendance.

So high was the stock of The Young Bucks and Rhodes that they even received offers from WWE, which they turned down. But they left ROH to start a new company with the backing of Shahid and Tony Khan.

That company would be All Elite Wrestling, and The Bucks and Cody – alongside Kenny Omega – would be named EVPs.

Strange as it may be to read, AEW has now lost one of their founding members.