On a recent episode of AEW Unrestricted, Dustin Rhodes joined Tony Schiavone and Aubrey Edwards to talk about his career in WWE and WCW. Schiavone asked Dustin about his memorable match at Double or Nothing against his brother Cody. Dustin discussed his mindset at WWE and his release coinciding with rumors of a match against Cody.
“When you’re sitting at home for a couple of months with another company who doesn’t value you at all, and you’re sitting there knowing you have so much more to offer. You kind of lose you passion, and for the first time in my 31 years, I lost my passion for the wrestling business,” Dustin admitted. “I love wrestling. Came out of my mother’s womb wanting to be a wrestler, and we were raised that way. Dad wanted something different for me. He did not want me to go through the hardships that he went through, and I understand it looking back at it now, but I’m sitting there just knowing I have so much more to give.
“They just will not give me the time of day, and I had enough. I said enough was enough, and for the first time, I kind of stood up for myself in a big way and said, ‘I am quitting. I am asking you for my release. I am done. I’m not happy here anymore,’ and you know how they do, they kind of make you wait for it. It was getting close to Double or Nothing, and Cody called me. He said, ‘would you like to work a match with me?’ At first I thought we have tried this for years and years and years.
“And they told us it was not good enough to be on the big stage. I heard that more than once. Every year. I tried. Cody tried. They didn’t see any value in it. So after years of that, I started thinking could it be too late for this match to take place? I am 50 years old. Could I give a performance for my brother Cody, for the wrestling world and the fans that I could be proud of? So I was nervous. I was scared.
“The competition is fierce right now. It’s very athletic, very fast. The talent are young, hungry [and] passionate, and here I am 31 years in the business. Of course I said yes to Cody, but I had that thing in the back of my head. I was very scared, very nervous how the AEW crowd would take to me because I had been WWE for so so long, and I heard they were different crowds. I was nervous at all kinds of things. I lived in my head for way too long leading up to that match.”
Dustin called the match perfection and one of his best matches of his career. He addressed the amount he bled during the match, and noted that he had gained back his passion for wrestling back after it was over.
“In my opinion, it was perfection,” Dustin said. “I know Cody says it probably wasn’t his greatest match ever, and I understand that, but for me this was the tops. It topped everything that I’d ever done in the business. It was a special night. It was emotional.
“I did bleed excessively. I was very very worried about that, and Cody was worried about that. I’m sitting there, and I’m getting dizzy. It’s not stopping, and Cody’s like, ‘do we need to go? Should we go home now?’ And I’m like, ‘no, let’s do this.’ I was fine, but man it was just a gusher, and it was coming. It wouldn’t stop. I was very dizzy for a couple of days, but after that match, man it was like a weight had been lifted. After that moment right there, I had found my passion again.”
Dustin went into more detail about the match, and felt that it was “storytelling at it’s finest.”
“I got up for a superplex on the top, and I started to get dizzy,” Dustin revealed. “We had to go. Otherwise, we were gonna end up on the floor, and we did it. It was OK. Thank God everything went off as planned, but man it was slippery, very dizzy. It was one of those touching moments.
“I look back at some of the stills, and I see Cody. He’s bent down on the ground right beside me, and I’m touching his back. It’s one of those moments that as a wrestling fan you look at that and you have them at the palm of your hand at that point because they’re looking at it like, ‘what the hell is going on here? These two brothers are going to war, but he still loves him. They’re touching each other. They’re holding each other. They’re fighting a war where they can barely stand up anymore.’ Storytelling at it’s finest.”
Cody currently serves as Executive Vice President as well as in-ring talent for AEW. Dustin gave praise to his brother for being able to handle all of those responsibilities.
“Cody has really grabbed this ball and getting off with it,” Dustin said. “I see Cody personally, and I’m not just saying this because he’s my brother, but he does the most work here backstage and out in the ring. He’s such a great performer, but the things that really impress me are the things that he does backstage from holding the meetings to just knowing what is needed to be done even though you have Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks and Tony, the group collective there, but Cody, I know him, just watching him handle business on the business side of it is really impressive.
“It really reminds me of dad a lot. Dad had that thing about him. I’m more of the performer and the promo guy that can cut the promos and wrestle. Cody has the whole package I think. That’s a giant burden on anybody’s back. It is hard to please the fans all the time with a whole roster and a whole TV show. It’s hard to do, and he’s handling it. And he’s listening to the people. He’s listening to their needs and wants. We try our best to give them what they want. You learn from your small mistakes and try to build upon those the next week and not have those same mistakes, and he’s really handling it well.”
Dustin talked about meeting with Tony Khan after Fight For The Fallen to discuss a contract with AEW. Dustin also serves as a coach as well as an in-ring competitor, and he called it the highlight of his day working with the young talent of AEW.
“I wasn’t offered a contract. They wanted to see me. Tony wanted to see me,” Dustin recalled. “Cody said, ‘come to Fight For The Fallen, and let’s have this tag match against the Young Bucks then we’ll talk and have a meeting with Tony, but I’m staying out of this one. I’m staying out of this one because you’re my brother. You need to talk to Tony.’ I talked to him, and we got our deal worked out as an in-ring performer and as a coach. Brandi just asked me. She came up to me and said, ‘hey, I’d like to get up there and train with you, maybe get some of the girls in there.’ Awesome. So we did that, and we made it a weekly thing.
“My highlights of the day is to get in there and see the young women that we have, and they’re my kids. I consider everybody here my kids even though they’re young men and women, I really love them, and it’s important I pass on my knowledge to them like the old timers did for me.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW Unrestricted with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.