Brandi Rhodes addresses untrue reasons for AEW exit, facing backlash for presentation of women’s division, training at WWE PC

Photo Courtesy: All Elite Wrestling

Rhodes looked back at her time with AEW and chats her experience at the WWE PC. 

When All Elite Wrestling was launched in 2019, Brandi Rhodes was appointed as Chief Brand Officer and in 2022, she left that position when her and Cody Rhodes opted to leave AEW and Cody returned to WWE

While sitting down with D.S. Shin of Ring The Belle, Brandi opened up about the exit from AEW. She could not say exactly why, but cleared up the ‘not true’ rumors surrounding her and Cody’s exit. The conversation started off with Brandi discussing her segments with Dan Lambert. She confirmed that during the program, she was supposed to wrestle MMA fighter Paige VanZant. 

Touching on those ‘not true’ reasons for her departure, Rhodes said she was not upset about working with Lambert and the remarks he made on-screen. She added that both she and Cody were also well on their way to figuring out their contract situations. She clarified that it was not a case of AEW not wanting to renew her deal so that’s why Cody left. 

Yes (the plan was to wrestle Paige VanZant). So that ended up happening and I don’t know… Maybe that was the plan all along. I can’t remember. But I remember being like, ‘What are we doing?’ And then the first one when I got to call him (Dan Lambert) the Paul Heyman wannabe, that was so fun and that pandemic crowd had so much fun with it. They were having a blast and then, you know, pockets of the internet starting flaring up about X, Y and Z and then it started to become a little bit less fun and I think that’s where you end up with Dan kind of stepping away, Cody (Rhodes) and I had our reasons that we left. That was not one. Hey, I’m gonna say, someone asked me this earlier about, ‘What can you say about why you left?’ I said, ‘Well Cody got to say in the documentary what was not true.’ I didn’t get to say that. So I was like, I would like to say that, because since I can’t say some other things, I would like to say what’s not true. So it’s not true that we left because the Dan Lambert segments upset me. That’s not true. Everything that Dan said, I was there for, I enjoyed it and some of it almost made me laugh a couple of times because I was just like, jeez, this man. The other thing that’s not true is it’s not true that I was not going to get another contract. We were both well on our way to trying to decide what our contracts were so it was not true that they decided not to renew my contract and only wanted to renew Cody’s and that’s why Cody left, not true. So those are two things you can cross off the list and the conspiracy theories can continue but those can go away.

For the early portion of AEW as a company, Brandi was one of the individuals behind the structuring and presentation of the women’s division. She spoke about the criticism she faced at the time. 

What was most hurtful to her was that no one stepped up and said all the blame should not be placed on her. Brandi added that Kia Stevens (Awesome Kong) was working hard in that department and never received credit for it. 

Actually, what was the most hurtful about it to me (facing criticism for booking of AEW’s women’s division) was not that people looked to me and said, ‘Hey, you do something about this or maybe this is your fault.’ But that no one stood up and said it’s not. That’s something that was really easy to do. It doesn’t look good coming from me in the moment to say, hey, this isn’t me so I’m not gonna do that. But there were plenty of people who I felt could have stepped in, said, hey you guys, this is a joint effort. This is not all on one person but, that never was done and never was said. To this day, I feel like — this is the first time I’m talking about that so, that was hurtful, especially knowing the time and the effort that was spent with different people and not even just me, there were other people who were trying really hard behind the scenes and working at different things that I don’t feel like people know and it’s kind of a bummer. It would be nice for people to know who was working hard and I’ll say another person who was working hard, Awesome Kong, was working very hard and did not get that recognition.

Further speaking about her exit from AEW, Rhodes dove into how hard it was to step away from the Chief Brand Officer role. She explained how much it meant to her to make a change and she highlighted the partnership with KultureCity. 

I would say that that’s the hardest thing. So, I’ve always said I did not plan to continue to wrestle beyond 40 and I’m now 40. So, wrapping up the wrestling a year early, not so hard because I already had that in mind. But, Chief Brand Officer thing was something that I thought I could do for a really long time so that was the part that was kind of like, man, this stings because that work was so great to be able to do. I remember bringing the KultureCity stuff to AEW and when we did the first event and seeing the children sitting with their headphones and their kits and everything and being able to enjoy those shows, that was a monumental moment for me and after that show, I got a phone call just driving home one day, from KultureCity, and they asked me if I would like to be a member of their Board because they were so happy with the work that I had done and I have no connection to Autism. Most people who are Board members, they have a family connection or something close to them. For them to want to work with me after that just made me feel so good. I got off the phone and I cried. I just cried in my car on the way home because I was just so happy to be able to help in that way. So leaving something like that behind, really, really stung, because it just filled me up to be able to go to shows and meet these families and meet these people and bring people backstage and watch them meet their heroes and just make these impossible things happen for people. That’s what I loved to do and again, that’s why moving into this direction of having the yoga/Pilates studio, being able to make things happen for people that they wouldn’t be able to do on their own, that’s what I wanna do. That’s what I like to do.

In August 2022, it was reported by PWInsider that Brandi wrestled at an in-house live event at the WWE Performance Center. She explained that after Cody came back, had his WrestleMania moment and was settled in, the plan was to talk about her future. She was asked if she wanted to come to the P.C. and train for a few weeks. 

After that trial period, Rhodes chose not to pursue it any further because it was tough. She would come home beat up and then her and Cody’s daughter, because of their bond, would want to always be around and on her and Brandi could not figure out how to mix wrestling into her routine. 

So the story behind this (being at WWE P.C.) was very simple. We were going to let Cody (Rhodes) do his thing, have his WrestleMania moment and then we were going to talk about me. So that’s what happened. WrestleMania happened, everything was great and then we talked about me and they said, ‘Hey Brandi, do you want to come to the Performance Center for a couple of weeks? Train, work with people, maybe have a couple of practice matches’ because they do the practice shows there and stuff. I said, ‘That’d be awesome. I would love to.’ Came down, did it, great experience, wonderful, did not pursue it after that because it was very tough. We had Libby with us the whole time. Cody was actually an exemplary dad and doing the dad role because he was injured. So he was watching her and we had a nanny with us and everything worked great, but it was very tough and it was tough to me to come home beat up from wrestling all day and then my daughter, we have a bond so she just wants to be with me and she wants to be on me and I was just unable to figure out how to make that all work in my head so I just didn’t pursue it further after that. It’s not a melancholy thing or anything like that. I love WWE and I think they’re a great company and under different circumstances, I did work for them. I probably would have worked for them if it was a different circumstance. Even if Liberty was older, I probably would have had an easier time doing it but it just seemed glaring to me that-that was not the calling.

Come October 2023, Brandi will be opening her ‘Naked Mind’ yoga and Pilates studio in Roswell, Georgia. As of this writing, Rhodes’ most recent match was in January 2022 at an AEW Dark: Elevation taping

If the quotes in this article are used, please credit Ring The Belle with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.

About Andrew Thompson 8465 Articles
A Washington D.C. native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.