Dustin Rhodes had six different stints with WWE and the sixth one didn’t go as he had hoped. He reached a point where WWE’s creative team had nothing for him which was very frustrating for someone who had seen just about everything in the business.
Rhodes talked about how it feels when you are in limbo with a creative team when he joined Talk is Jericho.
“When you are not necessarily being held back, but when there is so much going on and creative has nothing for you and you are sitting back there pitching these ideas and they get to Vince McMahon; some of them do and some of them do not,” revealed Rhodes. “Then finally you just have to go to Vince McMahon himself and he will say either yes or no and I get that to an extent. I get the deal, but when you are sitting back and you are watching everything that you know you can do and do it even better it is frustrating to sit back there and just go, dammit, here I am I have to travel, spend all this money on rental cars and you got nothing for me?
“I love wrestling. It is in my blood. It is in my DNA and it’s just I want to be one of the best. I want to be remembered as one of the very best to have walked into this business and I believe I have left a legacy that is pretty cool and it is good. It is not as great as it could be but I don’t feel bad about anything that I have done in this business so it’s all been there for me, everything I have done. I do believe that every time I do go out there, I never let the fans down. I put on a good show, even if it three minutes or twenty minutes, you go out there and work hard. That is my work ethic; you get 110%. I don’t half-ass stuff. Even when I am in a damn bad mood and don’t feel like doing a certain something you still go out there and perform because these people pay to see you. They pay for you to put on a show so you give them the best show to entertain them as you possibly can.”
Rhodes’ creative uncertainty helped pave the way for his WWE exit for seemingly the last time. Rhodes last wrestled for WWE in April 2018 then had double knee surgery three months later. He never appeared in a ring for the company again and was released in March 2019.
“I was tired. To me, it was like I was deflated a lot; terribly. I wanted out because I really wanted to follow my other dream which is acting. I think I can get in there. I have done a few low-budget independent films and I have a couple more on the deck so I wanted to try something else. I have done this for so long, 31 years and I love it, it’s my first love but I want to go have some freedom to go do some other things,” said Rhodes who previously mentioned that acting is much easier on the body than wrestling.
“There are some things that had happened that really bit me the wrong way. I went in and had a meeting with them and I said, look I am done. I am tired and I just didn’t care. This is one of those moments where I did not care what they did, what they said. I wanted out. It was emotional; I did cry and I think that when they finally gave me my release we agreed that yes, they would give me my release and would pay me until my injuries were done because I had just come off of double knee surgeries and then we will give you the 90 days and we will pay you through that. I said, fine, that is not a problem.”
After that meeting Rhodes got a call from Triple H who thanked him for everything he had done for WWE. Afterwards the legal battle regarding his contract started and when he was finally released from his contract, he says a huge weight was lifted off his shoulders.
“It was incredible. I immediately got so much happier because it was stressful; I hadn’t been happy for a while. I had lost my passion in a sense for our business and that is terrible; it is horrible, and something like Double or Nothing happens and my love for the business is reunited because it was so freaking incredible,” said Rhodes.
“I love talking about it right now. I am excited about AEW and what the future holds and what they are going to do because they are going to be a great man. God, what a special time. All those kids that I had seen for the first time, a lot of them I knew. A lot of the production team I knew, but meeting the kids you can tell that they are hungry and that is important, man. To think that these guys are showing up to work and are excited about creating something that is brand new right out of the shoot and knocking it out of the park and they are hungry and to see that with all of these kids it is unreal. It is a special time to be in this industry and AEW right now has got the writing on the typical lightning bolt. It is going to be kick ass.”
Rhodes had spent some time in TNA and some indie promotions in between his WWE stints, but it wasn’t since he was with WCW in 2001 that he had worked in a big arena for a company other than WWE before Double or Nothing.
Rhodes described the scene at AEW when he arrived for the show.
“It was pretty surreal because I walked in the night before and they were doing some rehearsals for some stuff and getting the set ready. I am looking at everything. I am looking at the railings, the entrances and the big mat right there that says ‘AEW.’ I am looking at it and thinking ‘holy sh**.’ Here I am. It is a different backyard. A different ballpark and it feels good,” stated Rhodes.
“You are looking at the whole set and I am sitting there watching Cody Rhodes. I think one of the things that I really loved is that I am standing at ringside, and I am not used to the cables you know because I have been used to the ropes for so long. But with the cables you get in there and bounce around I am looking around and I see Cody and he’s got his headset on with his paper in hand and everybody is running up to him. It is such a good feeling. I am watching him and it is such a good feeling for him. I am looking over at the two entrances, which is a concept that I like. I think it is really cool and from everything; the whole look, to everything. It was surreal. It was a weird feeling but also, it was really cool and how glad I was to be there.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Talk is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.