As Cody Rhodes was returning to WWE at WrestleMania 38 Saturday night, Variety was publishing a new interview with him. Rhodes told Variety there’s a “really heavy feeling” as he prepared to make his return to the company he left six years ago. He’s returning more confident than ever in his own abilities.

“I told Vince McMahon, Bruce Prichard and Nick Khan — this very small circle of individuals — I told them what I truly believe and it’s that I’m the best wrestler in the world,” Rhodes told Variety. “And to go further with it, I actually don’t think there’s a close second. But with that said, the opportunity now exists to prove it, and that’s what I’m most excited about.

Cody Rhodes and his wife Brandi parted ways with AEW earlier this year. Rhodes was a founding Executive Vice President of the company, but he says it was time to move on.

“I chose to remain silent about my departure from AEW and I’m going to keep my word on that,” Rhodes said. “There’s no shoot interview. There’s no nefarious tale that’s going to be told. There were all these different theories and none of them are correct. I mean, there were things about money and creative control. They were printed as fact and it’s been a very difficult two months to see that, when the reality is it was just time.

“It was a personal matter and we couldn’t move past it,” Rhodes continued. “I have nothing but respect for Matt [Jackson], Nick [Jackson] and Kenny [Omega]. I’m rooting for Tony Khan. His name is going to be in the history books as someone who helped to bankroll and support this entire alternative and revolution that AEW became but for me, it was just time to move on. I get an opportunity at my dream, I get another chance at it. And you really can’t leave any stone unturned with that.”

Cody Rhodes is relatively unchanged since his AEW departure in his return to WWE. He entered WrestleMania 38 to the same music he’s been using for his entrances for years and he was announced as “The American Nightmare”.

“To quote some of these individuals who courted me for this moment, ‘It’s not broke’,” Rhodes told Variety. “And this was a place that didn’t care for me. And it wasn’t that they didn’t have love and respect for me but as a wrestler, I wasn’t considered their most desirable. If anything, I was kind of undesirable.”

Cody Rhodes also told Variety that he will be serving as executive producer on an A&E documentary about his father, the late Dusty Rhodes. Cody Rhodes also revealed that Dan Lambert recently gave him the WWWF championship belt that his father and “Superstar” Billy Graham once fought over in Madison Square Garden in 1977.

​​Wrestling Inc. reader Finalnight contributed to this article.

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