This weekend, former AEW World Champion Kenny Omega took some time to speak with F4Wonline about the latest in his personal life as well as the world of pro wrestling. The hottest topic coming out this week was Cody Rhodes’ departure from AEW and the reported negotiations going on with Cody and WWE in the aftermath.
Omega had plenty to say on the subject, noting how he was just as shocked as everyone else to hear the news. But if Cody was ultimately unhappy with his position in the company, Omega would agree that he made the right decision to depart.
“Everyone was shocked. Yeah, I mean, wrestling is — we all know when our deals are up, especially the EVPs, like, we know when our deals are up. Especially in the case of The Bucks, they know when their options kick in, for myself I don’t have a deal like that, because you know I’m up next year, just straight up done,” Omega explained. “So I’d have to re-sign a new one, there’s no option. We knew Cody, as much like The Bucks, this was that time. And when we would hear that, you know, there’s possibly some difficulty with the renegotiation or whatever, it was almost like you never think it’s gonna go in that direction where the talent is going to opt for leaving.
“Especially since when this thing first started, I would say the most passionate person about our revolution, the most passionate person about creating kind of an ‘us versus them’ mentality, that was Cody. So it was strange for him just to choose to up and walk away. However, that being said, you know feelings change,” he continued. “The environment around you is ever-changing, it’s constantly changing, and maybe the mission statement or the goal, or the revolution, or whatever you were searching for and trying to create, maybe that isn’t what it is anymore to you. Maybe that isn’t your inspiration or what gets you out of bed every day.
“So I would always everyone in wrestling, in work, in life, 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 encouraged creatively free. In a place where you feel your work is being appreciated and fulfilled.”
Kenny believes that Cody’s creative role being altered is probably a major reason he wanted to exit from AEW. He also explained how the show’s creative structure was a bit disjointed because each Executive VP would bring their own ideas to various segments throughout the show.
“I know — well, I can’t say I know. I’m guessing that knowing Cody as well as I know him, I don’t really think it was an issue of money,” Omega stated. “I don’t think it was Tony 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 optimism about it, we thought we’d be where we are today where we’re considered a major promotion and we would have our fanbase and hopefully have 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, at 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,” he added. “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, to 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 there might be some heartbreak if you were promised that or told that and it doesn’t come to fruition. I get it.
“I mean, but again, though my professional relationship with Cody was great, he’s not a guy I go and get, um, a Diet Pepsi within 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,” Kenny explained . “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, um, it can only lead to bad things. And we’ve seen it in wrestling where that can lead to terrible things whether that 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.”
In the end, Kenny wishes Cody well on his pro wrestling future, whether it be in WWE or in some other avenue. He even fueled the reports that Cody is headed back to WWE, joking that he’s on a plane to Saudi Arabia right now for Elimination Chamber.
“That’s sort of where The Bucks and I differed, we never wanted to go to war with Vince [McMahon] and WWE, we just wanted to give people an option and have a platform for our style 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, and so there was Kenny doing his thing, The Bucks doing their thing, and there’s the Cody-verse over there doing whatever it is that he does, and then there’s the stuff that Tony [Khan] does. And then eventually, as [Dave Meltzer] knows, and I guess a lot of fans know now, it’s essentially now just Tony’s show and, of course, he’s going to listen to our advice and take our suggestions to the 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,” Omega stated. “For me, you know, I feel like he was one of the original four and there’s always gonna be a place for him. 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 it’s nothing from an in-ring perspective – there’s no issues there.
“If I had a clear-cut answer for you guys, I would tell you but I don’t know it,” Kenny Omega said. “And all I can say is that whatever he decides to do – I heard he’s on a flight to Saudi Arabia [laughs] – if that makes him happy, then that makes him happy. And again, The Bucks and I 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.”
If you use any quotes from this interview, please credit Inside The Ropes with an h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
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