As a guest on the latest episode of WWE After the Bell with Corey Graves, The American Nightmare Cody Rhodes joined the show to talk about his time spent away from WWE and his comeback at WrestleMania 38. The former Intercontinental Champion spoke about what he learned from his experience doing independent wrestling and how it made him connect with wrestling fans on a different level.
“At WWE I was spoiled, I started right in front of thousands and thousands of people,” Rhodes said. “The lights are down, the spotlight is on the ring, it’s WWE, the place is going nuts and I felt like I was taking it for granted. Go to the independents and even with the large crowd, independents at the time were booming and they’re doing good again right now, but you did get the opportunity to do these meet and greets, that’s a big part of independent wrestling. To me, the match was almost secondary, I wanted to meet every fan.
“That’s why I started wearing a suit and tie everywhere I went, it became second nature to me. I wanted to meet them and I never felt like I really crossed the isle, I never felt like I really met all these fans over the years because you see the power of television when you travel around and do that loop like I did. That’s also where I developed what I would call a bad habit and a habit that a lot of people disagree with. I will stay out there until I meet every single fan, until I take every single picture, until I sign every type of autograph. It’s because that’s what brought me to the dance.”
Continuing to talk about his return to WWE, Cody Rhodes mentioned how he’s been receiving some negativity regarding his departure from AEW, with people calling him a sell out. The American Nightmare highlighted how integral he was in building AEW and mentioned how people should just be happy knowing that WWE now has viable competition.
“It initially was unanimously positive,” Rhodes said. “I feel like that fanbase, that divide that exists amongst all the different bubbles, if there was any negativity, well I can put some of the blame on my shoulders. Again, the last shows I had done before taking this WWE return, I’m taking little fun and pod-shots talking smack which is what wrestlers do. I think sometimes the fans attach themselves to those statements and forget that we are in the realm of entertainment. I added to the tribalism myself so I can’t necessarily get mad at it when I see it.
“It was unique to see a lot of people burning like my old AEW shirts which was a trend for a few days on social so it felt like you were kind of leaving a sports team. It didn’t break my heart but I thought it was odd because the place doesn’t exist without me. There’s other people that needed to be there for it to exist for sure but I am one of the people that that place exists because of. AEW exists partially because of me. I saw a few times the term ‘sold out’ and I thought like you have this, it’s great.”
As far as what’s next for WWE’s newest acquisition, Cody Rhodes is set to take on Seth Rollins in a WrestleMania 38 rematch on May 8th at WrestleMania Backlash.
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit WWE After the Bell with Corey Graves with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
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