As noted, AEW Executive Vice President, Cody Rhodes, was the guest on a recent edition of ESPN Radio to talk about all things AEW before last Saturday's Full Gear pay-per-view. During the discussion, Cody opened up a bit about how hist past experiences with his late, great father, Dusty Rhodes, helped prepare him to manage AEW weekly TV.
"We talked about [producing shows] but we didn't talk about it in a way where it's like, 'Hey son, prepare for this if this ever comes up this is what you should do.' We talked about it from a fantasy standpoint where I would ride in the truck with my dad and he would book a show," Cody said. "He would ask me who my War Games team is, he would ask me to do a television tournament. We would have these conversations because he knew I was a big fan of my generation, of the industry, and his generation proceeded that generation so I think he used me as a litmus test of talent to see how I felt, and see what I liked, and what I didn't. But now I look at all that experience with him - growing up with him and him being such a big part of my life.
"I look at it as an education. I went to grammar school, and middle school, and high school, and almost felt like I did go to college, but it was a completely different college that I didn't know that I was in. It was the 30 years that I got to talk to Dusty Rhodes every day about wrestling, and about the nuances of it, and why it works, and why it doesn't work," Cody continued on. "Which is why in a braggadocious sense, I am so glad I got this job because I have the best education on earth for this job; not just what Dusty gave me but what I got in WWE. I was around one of the greatest productions ever and I never missed a live event, never missed a day for 10-years straight. There are some unbelievably talented people back of house on-screen in WWE, some unbelievable agents who helped educate me. I'm glad some of them are part of All Elite Wrestling - Dean freaking Malenko for example. That's the key to all of this, we have to pass that knowledge on. And you don't think you are old to pass it on until you talk to somebody like a Darby Allin and you do have this information, and that is when you know you have to pass it on."
There have been rumors over the years that the McMahon family and the Rhodes family didn't always see eye to eye on certain things. Nevertheless, Cody remembers a time when WWE helped his family out of financial troubles and gave Dusty a new lease on life with being an NXT coach.
"I could smash a thousand thrones, and I could make a thousand hot shots and little fourth wall-breaking comments about my experience because it is vastly different from Dusty's," Cody explained. "But as his son, I know that in 2005 when he got his first royalty check for the Dusty Rhodes DVD, which they did a marvelous job on, my mother literally hit her knees in the kitchen and thanked God for them having kind of bring him back to financial security, them having given him a home in the winter of his life, and then a functional thing to chew on with NXT and to maybe help and guide a few young stars. So, with that in mind and what they did for him in the end, I will never be ungrateful to them."
For Cody specifically, his negative feelings for his time in WWE lingers on. He's uncertain, but thinks that perhaps the McMahons forced him to pay the debt of the generosity they showed Dusty by withholding him from the top of the company back when he was with WWE.
"Now, I have my own opinions about my career that are mine, and people think that because of what [WWE] did for my dad, I should be voiceless on occasion, and that's just never going to be the case. But I always say that I owe them a great debt, and maybe I paid it personally with the way things ended. Who knows? But I'll never forget that both Hunter, and Vince, and even Stephanie McMahon were very good to my father when he needed it," Cody said. "And as his son, that's something that if they ever asked me to repay that debt, I would go an repay it because I know it was important.
"Now, I know the narrative is that the McMahons hate the Rhodes and maybe in there there is some truth to that. But I - I - if I have a few drinks, ask me the same question and the answer might be completely different. But in this moment, I still remain very grateful for what they did for my dad. What they did for me, different story. What they did for him, very grateful.
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit ESPN Radio with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.