Malakai Black beat Cody Rhodes in dominant fashion at the end of this week's AEW Dynamite, knocking him out with a Black Mass before pinning him with a single boot across the chest. Rhodes then slowly made his way to his feet and started cutting what seemed to be a retirement announcement promo. He talked about how AEW had legitimate become competition, how he left the WWE, how he had joined The Elite and even hinted at their rumored in-fighting before saying he loved them and would be tethered to them forever. He then reflected on the time AEW has spent in Daily's Place before slowly taking off his wrestling boots.
But just as Jim Ross pointed out how that was the time-honored tradition for wrestlers after their final match, Black reappeared and cracked Rhodes across the back with a crutch. Whatever attempt Rhodes was going to make at a retirement seemed to have been delayed for now.
This was likely done to write Rhodes off of television, as TBS' Go-Big Show is set to film its second season soon with him on the judges' panel. But in-ring retirement might be coming for the "American Nightmare" sooner rather than later. He's 36, and has openly stated in the past that he intends to hang up his boots at 40.
"I'm 35, and I said I only wanted to wrestle for five more years. I have political aspirations. I would love to run for the Senate in the great state of Georgia. I want to help with the sphere of influence I have created," he told Bleacher Report late last year.
Rhodes hosted a media conference call on Tuesday and spoke on a number of important topics, including AEW's outlet towards the major free agents current in the pro wrestling market.
"I tell a lot of my peers in wrestling and people I use as a sounding board, I always tell them, 'you can't wish away good talent,' especially when you get in a groove as a talent yourself," Rhodes said. "And it's not unlike the world that Tony [Khan] comes from already, the world of the NFL and football in the UK. If there's a free agent out there that can move the needle and be something significant for us... personally, I think you have to go after them. Does that change the landscape of the show and the roster? For sure, but that's one of those things where as much as things can get personal, it is business. And no one is immune from that."