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Dustin Rhodes on How Vince McMahon Told Him Match With Cody Wasn’t ‘Good Enough for WrestleMania’

December 2, 2021 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Dustin Rhodes Cody AEW Double or Nothing Image Credit: AEW

– During a recent interview with Way of the Blade, AEW wrestler Dustin Rhodes recalled being told by Vince McMahon that a feud and match with his younger brother, Cody Rhodes, wasn’t good enough for WrestleMania. Eventually, both men ended up leaving WWE and got to have their major pay-per-view match at AEW’s debut pay-per-view event, Double or Nothing, in May 2019. Below are some highlights (via WrestlingInc.com):

Dustin Rhodes on missing the first All In event: “I’d done everything I had wanted to do in WWE. I was pretty tired, wanted out, and got out. It’s quite a story we can save for another time. But getting out of there was such a breath of fresh air. I was watching the things that Cody, and Tony, and the Young Bucks, Kenny were putting together. Missing the first All In was truly something I regret. I was not able to go though, because I was told that I could not go by WWE, which really sucked ’cause I wanted to be there for my brother. Me and my brother have a sixteen-year difference, right? At the beginning, when he was growing up a bit, we were a little bit closer. I was around a lot. But then I got real busy, and things with my father — we had a falling out and things like that, but we got back together. But I was kind of out of Cody’s life for five or six years, and I regret that. Then we had that tremendous run in WWE with the Tag Team Titles, with The Shield, and all that. And it went on with The Usos and so many great tag teams. I just had a really fun time with Cody.”

Dustin Rhodes on Cody leaving WWE before him: “He got out [of WWE] before I did. And then finally I got out and I see the things that are going on with AEW being started up and all. And man, I thought I was done, to be honest with you. I really thought I was done. I was so depleted emotionally that my passion was gone completely. It drained everything that I had up there, every creative bone in my body, it left me. And I thought, genuinely, that I was gone. Then I’m sitting at home for the 90-day noncompete clause, and I’m just chomping at the bit thinking of what I can do to go out there. Let’s be honest, I’ve been a pro wrestler my whole life, and I was weighing whether I should go back to college, do this, or do that. I could do anything I want. But I had also been dabbling in acting and really want to make an impact in the acting world.”

On creating a vignette of him saying goodbye to Goldust: “I put together this video of me painting a mannequin head in the Goldust face paint. And I put together this nice little video. My daughter, who’s really good at editing, she went to college and got her degree in television and film production. She put some music behind it that was very sad and moving. And I bought an antique trunk from Facebook, from Facebook Market place. I bought an antique trunk and I had this vision of, ‘Okay, I’m putting this character away.’ And I did the video and I look at this mannequin’s head, and it was very emotional and moving. I laid it in the chest and I had a couple of other items of the Goldust character in there, and I close the door. And it just got a lot of hits. I released it on the 90 days, as soon as the 90 days were up, I released that. And in the meantime, to go back just a little bit, just two weeks before that, they had given me a call, Cody, and Tony (Khan). And they said, ‘Hey man, would you like be in this Double or Nothing PPV and wrestle your brother?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely.'”

Dustin Rhodes on thinking his wrestling career was over before joining AEW: “But to be honest with you, I thought my wrestling career was over and I questioned myself. I questioned myself big time. ‘Can I still go and give Cody the type of match that he deserves? And is this going to do anything for me?’ They billed it as the, ‘One last ride.’ And they were very scared that in 90 days, they were going to try to hold me and I wasn’t going to be able to get to this PPV. But I agreed to this not really knowing what to expect because AEW is a different crowd, it’s a different fanbase. So they came out to my home, they shot a video, just a little vignette. We did two vignettes; Cody did a promo and I did this vignette of watching along the ranch and sitting down, just a kind of shoot promo situation. Once the 90 days hit, I released the Goldust trunk thing and it got hits like crazy, like thousands. It was very shocking to me just how important the wrestling fanbase made me feel. It felt like, ‘Wow, they actually care.’ Because it was really — it hit hard. It hit the fanbase hard, and shortly after that, I think in the evening, I put out the next promo. The first promo from my stuff for Double or Nothing. So it was like a double shot day. They had no idea, the world had no idea that I was going to face my brother.”

Dustin Rhodes on Vince McMahon telling him a match with Cody wasn’t good enough for WrestleMania: “I had fought so hard every single year to get to work my brother at WrestleMania. And point-blank, Vince (McMahon) would always tell me, ‘This match is not good enough to be on WrestleMania. That pissed me off, that pissed me off bad. And it was hurtful, and it did something to me. It really depleted every ounce of passion that I had. I fought for it every single year, Cody too. We both fought for it every year. So to get offered this with Cody and Tony Khan, to this new fanbase and this upstart company AEW, on this PPV? And I watched All In on PPV at home. It was like ‘Okay, here we go.’ Double or Nothing, Cody puts out his promo, we’ve got these two promos. Mine and his, they get huge hits. It was like the world just caught fire there with me. And still, I got excited, right? I’m like the kid in the candy store. I’m very excited about this but not confident at all. I was very lost in my confidence and passion, like I said. And very unsure about my ability to step into the ring with my brother and deliver a very explosive match for him.”