During his appearance on Wrestling Observer Radio, Kenny Omega opened up about Cody Rhodes' departure from AEW.
It was announced earlier this week that Cody and Brandi Rhodes have both decided to move on from AEW. They were each founding members of the promotion and had executive positions with the company, with Cody serving as an executive vice president and Brandi being AEW's chief brand officer.
Omega and The Young Bucks worked together with Rhodes as EVPs. On Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer asked Omega if he was blindsided by Cody leaving.
I heard everyone was shocked. Wrestling is -- we all know when our deals are up, like especially the EVPs, we know when our deals are up. In the case of The Bucks, when their options kick in. For myself, I don’t have a deal like that. I’m up next year, just straight up done. So I’d have to re-sign a new one, there’s no option.
We knew Cody, much like The Bucks, it was that time. We would hear that there’s possibly some difficulty with the renegotiation or whatever, it was almost like -- you just never think it’s gonna go in that direction where the talent is going to opt for leaving. Especially since when this thing started, I would say the most passionate person about our revolution, the most passionate person about kind of creating an ‘us vs. them’ mentality -- that was Cody. So it was strange for him just to choose to up and walk away.
However, that being said, feelings change. The environment around you is ever-changing, it’s constantly changing. And maybe the mission statement or the goal or the revolution, whatever it is that you were searching for [and] trying to create, maybe that isn’t what it is anymore to you. Maybe that isn’t your inspiration -- that isn't what gets you out of bed every day.
So I would always encourage everyone in wrestling, in life, whatever -- if your work isn’t fulfilling, if it doesn’t make you happy, you really should look for opportunities elsewhere in a place where you can feel creatively free. In a place where you feel that your work is being creatively appreciated and fulfilled.
Omega said he doesn't believe that Cody leaving AEW was a financial issue. He speculated that Cody may have felt like the current version of AEW wasn't a good fit for him.
I’m guessing that knowing Cody as well as I know him, I don’t really think it was an issue of money. I don’t think it was Tony [Khan] not showing him enough cash to keep him invested with the company. Cody, he really believed in the vision, in the original vision that he brought to the table for AEW. And I think the original vision that the team brought to the table when AEW was first becoming a promotion -- we didn’t know where this would go. We had been optimistic about it, we had thought we would be where we are today where we’d be considered a major promotion and we would have our fanbase and we would have hopefully a lot of satisfied customers watching our product. But I guess we never really sat down and talked to each other about, ‘Okay, we have this opportunity to now change wrestling. How do you see it? How do you see it? How do you see it? How do we make this work?’ And maybe in the end we had The Bucks and their vision, we had my vision, and then we had Cody’s vision. And all of our visions were different from one another. And I would say mine was more similar to what The Bucks had envisioned. And Cody’s was out there, it was much different.
You’re gonna get that, I think. When finally you’ve committed your life to an industry and a business, and finally someone goes, ‘Okay, you’ve done this job all your life, you’ve been raised into this business with these shackles on you to a degree by someone or something. Now those are off, you’ve got carte blanche, what is it you want to do?’ And I can understand that there might be some heartbreak if you were promised that or told that and it doesn’t come to fruition. I get it.
But again, though my professional relationship with Cody was great, he’s not a guy that I go and get a Diet Pepsi with in my off time. So I don’t know how he personally feels about anything. So I can only guess as to why he would leave, and I just think that he saw it with his deal up as an opportunity to investigate something within wrestling or just in life in general that would bring him more happiness.
And again, I don’t want anyone doing what we do in wrestling and being completely unhappy or miserable. Because that destroys you. It’s such a huge mental, emotional, and physical commitment that if you’re miserable while doing it, it can only lead to bad things. We’ve seen it in wrestling where that can lead to terrible things, whether it be alcohol, pills, drugs, [depression] -- and that runs rampant in wrestling. I would hate for that to happen when what we were set out to do was something extremely positive for professional wrestling, or that was always the goal anyway. And that's sort of where The Bucks and I differed. We never wanted to go to war with Vince [McMahon] or WWE. We just wanted to give people an option and just get us a platform for our brand of storytelling and our style of wrestling. And I think when Cody had his way of going about things, I wasn't sure how to follow up with that nor was I interested. There were sort of like -- there's Kenny doing his thing, there's The Bucks doing their thing, and there's the Codyverse over there doing whatever it is that he does, and then there's the stuff that Tony [Khan] does.
And then eventually, as you know, I guess probably a lot of fans know now, it’s essentially now just Tony’s show. And of course he’s always going to listen to our advice and take our suggestions to heart, but AEW is very much Tony’s thing, Tony’s baby, and we’re there to support it in any way that we can. And it’s very possible that this current version of AEW just wasn’t a good fit for Cody, to Cody. For me, I feel like he was one of the original four, there’s always gonna be a place for him. And there's always, you saw it in his ladder match with Sammy [Guevara], he's got incredible utility and he's able to help our younger talent. So, nothing from an in-ring perspective, there's no issues there. If I had a clear-cut answer for you guys I would love to tell you. But I don't know it. All I can say is that whatever he decides to do, I heard he's on a flight to Saudi Arabia [possibly said jokingly], if that makes him happy, that makes him happy. And again, The Bucks and I, we weren't in this for the war. So all the guys and gals in WWE doing their thing, always wishing for the best for those guys, always.
Elsewhere during his Wrestling Observer Radio appearance, Omega gave an update on his health as he recovers from injury. A clip from that discussion is available below: