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Cody Rhodes On The Fight Between The Elite And CM Punk: The Spirit Of All In Was ‘Gone’ In That Moment

Cody Rhodes opens up about “Brawl Out”, the infamous altercation between CM Punk, Kenny Omega, and the Young Bucks.

Rhodes, Omega, and the Young Bucks were founding members of All Elite Wrestling in 2019. Though Rhodes was one of the faces of the company, he left AEW after his contract expired in February 2022, and he subsequently signed with WWE. As a result, he was no longer involve with AEW by the time the All Out pay-per-view rolled around in September 2022. In the main event, Punk defeated Jon Moxley to win the AEW World Championship. At the post-show press conference, Punk made heated comments about Omega and the Young Bucks, among others, which led to a heated physical confrontation between the two sides. Everyone involved was suspended, and Punk was stripped of the title, while The Elite were stripped of the AEW World Trios Champion.

Speaking with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, Rhodes was asked to comment on “Brawl Out”, and he began by noting that one of his students at the Nightmare Factory was involved in breaking up the fight.

“I got a fun story,” Rhodes said. “It’s pretty neutral, but one of my students from the Nightmare Factory was involved in pulling apart whatever the scuffle was. He’s got a job, he’s a driver there. I told him, I go, ‘I feel terrible. I didn’t prepare you. We taught you how to do hip tosses and how to an interview. We didn’t teach how to break up a backstage brawl. So now when we do these beginners’ camps, I always wanna be like, ‘So guys, if you see two guys fighting, immediately separate them,’ just because he had that experience. That always popped me.”

Rhodes then recalled the morning after the incident, when he woke up and had roughly 63 messages. He described how he was worried that someone took a shot at him or Brandi. “The American Nightmare” then discussed his relationship with Omega and the Young Bucks by stating they still have a great bond, though it was tested during their run as executives together.

“I woke up the next morning, and I had, no joke, I think I had 63 messages,” Rhodes said. “So I was very worried that something was said about me or Brandi. I did everything I could. I gave a lot. I have great memories with AEW, I do. So I hope it’s respected mutually. I was worried. I was like, I hope somebody didn’t take a weird shot, something like that. That wasn’t the case. It was about this press conference and all that.

“I had a great relationship with Matt, Nick, and Kenny. Still do. It definitely was tested by being young executives. It was tested by having differing opinions on wrestling. But our different opinions is what made it strong. That’s what made us work. I wanna do Crockett and old school. They want to do PWG and west coast, and damn, I loved it. I liked that. That contention is what made us bond. We’re bonded forever because of the things we did.”

Rhodes also made it clear that he had a great relationship with Punk, and he’d buy the veteran dinner when he was in AEW.

“I also had a great relationship with Punk. He was my dinner buddy,” Rhodes said. “They’d order dinner for me at AEW every week as one of my management perks or whatever. I don’t think he knew, I always just put it on my tab because I wanted to make sure he was getting something too, salmon or sushi. We didn’t talk a lot, but I had a great relationship. We’d still chat, and I was so excited to have him back. If you remember when he came back, everyone was fired up about that.”

Looking back on what happened after he found out about the incident, he noted that some people texted him and told him he was “the smartest guy in the room”, but he didn’t feel that way. Rhodes stated that he felt like what they had built together had been damaged, but he emphasized that he wasn’t putting any blame on anyone. He also made it clear that he felt bummed out, and he didn’t think the situation was helpful whatsoever.

“When I watched it, just from my sitting there, there was some people texting me,” Rhodes said. “I remember somebody texted me, ‘Man, you’re the smartest guy in the room.’ I wanted to write back, ‘FU, man, I don’t feel that way.’ I feel this thing we built got damaged, and I’m not putting any blame on anybody. Sorry, super Switzerland at this moment. I’m not putting any blame on anybody. But I just hated seeing that because as the company grows, and I hope it continues to grow, I hope people remember the mission in the first place, why we were there. If you bring in people who don’t know the mission, then things like that can happen. I’m not saying he didn’t know the mission or anything of that nature, but I was just bummed out. That’s how I felt.

“I was bummed out because… you win the title, that’s a feather in your cap. You win the Royal Rumble, that’s a feather in your cap. Building an alternative wrestling is definitely a feather in the cap. I don’t want that to be erased. I don’t want that to go away. Plus, there’s not as many jobs in wrestling as people think. There’s about 1,000 people who work there. Structurally, infrastructure, and talent. I’m proud of them, and I want to make sure they’re able to feed their families. That was a situation that was so big and heavy. I don’t think it was helpful. I don’t know. Maybe you can make it helpful. Maybe you can do something with it. But that’s how I felt. No heat on Punk, no heat on Matt, Nick, Kenny, or Tony. I was just bummed out when I saw.”

Rhodes went on to share his belief that the spirit of All In, the event that ultimately led to the launch of AEW, was “gone” in the moment of Brawl Out, and while that didn’t mean the company couldn’t get it back, it was still a bummer.

“That’s not how we envisioned it,” Rhodes said. “The spirit of All In, if you ever lose the spirit, you’re lost. I think the spirit was gone in that moment. Doesn’t mean you can’t get it back. But it was just a bummer. I also felt weird because I always talk to everybody so I was like, ‘I don’t wanna make it look like I’m taking any sides here.’ I’m literally just an observer now. I’m not there, guys. No connections, other than the initial connections. Just a bummer.”

“The American Nightmare” won the 2023 Men’s Royal Rumble match, and he is set to headline WWE WrestleMania 39. Meanwhile, Omega and the Young Bucks are the reigning AEW World Trios Champions. Punk hasn’t appeared on AEW programming since AEW All Out, and his future with the company is unclear.

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