January 29, 2023

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WrestleMania 38: Cody Rhodes victoriously returns to WWE after former AEW Vice President defeats Seth Rollins

WrestleMania 38: Cody Rhodes victoriously returns to WWE after former AEW Vice President defeats Seth Rollins

Cody Rhodes has crossed the line once again to WWE. The former AEW Executive Vice President and founding member of that company made important speculation, as he appeared on the first night of WrestleMania 38 as an opponent for the selection of Vince McMahon against Seth Rollins.

Rhodes, who recently left his position as executive vice president and performer at AEW, received a standing ovation from attendees at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Saturday. He was greeted with a Pyro celebration in the ring, up the entrance ramp and on stage before playing his signature music and returning to WWE for the first time since 2016.

A major storyline coming into the first night of WrestleMania 38 featured a mysterious Rollins opponent chosen by WWE President McMahon. Rhodes made his triumphant comeback using the same musical theme and elaborate entrance that he used in AEW.

Rhodes and Rollins presented an exciting physical competition that will compete for tonight’s game. The American Nightmare bore the brunt of the damage with visible swelling on his forehead and intense redness around his body. Early in the competition, Rhodes briefly displayed Stardust’s Behaviours, a symbolic parody of Rhodes’s frequently disfigured skin prior to his departure from WWE.

The finishing sequence saw Rhodes land his final move, Cross Rhodes, twice on Rollins. He then handed over the robotic elbow in memory of his late father, “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. The last Cross Rhodes crowned the former AEW star’s return to WWE.

Rhodes exited WWE in 2016 after a decade working in the company system. Burdened with a face-drawn comedic stunt called Stardust, Rhodes first rediscovered himself as a major player in the indie scene.

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Working with Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson), Rhodes became a member of the popular Bullet Club. It was then a key component of Tony Khan’s final AEW launch.

While a number of notable WWE veterans — including Adam Cole, Brian Danielson, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Jeff Hardy and Jon Moxley — have made the jump to AEW, this is the first time the AEW alum has signed with WWE.

Rhodes was a two-time Intercontinental Champion and a six-time Tag Team Champion at the time of his original departure from WWE. He returns with more titles on his resume, including the AEW TNT belt (three times), the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, the IWGP United States Championship, and the ROH World Championship where the title reigns under his belt.