#OneYearDON: Cody vs. Dustin Rhodes Remains AEW’s Best Singles Match

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Cody
Credit: AEW

#OneYearDON is a look back at All Elite Wrestling’s debut event with match by match retrospectives on how talent has fared in the year since the event as well as other profiles looking at how some performers have progressed from one DON to the next. This piece looks at the Brother vs. Brother match that kicked off AEW’s birth with a bang as Cody battled Dustin Rhodes.

When the first AEW event was coming together, Cody was seemingly left without a match. Shocking considering the importance of Cody to the All Elite Wrestling image as one of the vice presidents and the man that many see as the driving force behind the entire company. But somehow, just a month out from the event that would leave AEW’s first and most important impression, the perfect opponent fell into the lap of Cody and the company. That opponent happened to be his brother, Dustin Rhodes.

The match that had eluded both men was finally going to happen and had the best build of any match on the card. Dustin kept it clear that he was going to do this one more time against his brother, while Cody wanted to end everything that Dustin stood for, his era – the Attitude Era. It was as real of a match that anyone could see, as these two men went at each other week after week on “The Road to Double or Nothing” with some of the best promo work either had ever delivered. And when I say the match eluded them, it did. Their first and only other battle came at a WWE PPV where neither was in their true character and it ended up being a dumpster fire. This was a redemption story for the two sons of a son of a plumber.

The Build-Up – Natural vs. Nightmare

“I love my brother. I have always loved my brother,” Cody said in the lead up to his match with Dustin. “I’d say at one point, he was my hero.” For Cody, it was a generation vs. generation in his eyes. He wanted to end all those comparisons that his era suffers because of the era his brother thrived in. Cody questioned what fans thought was “better” from that era, asking if The Rock’s rhyming was better than the pipebomb of CM Punk, or some muscle head fighting in a No DQ match came anywhere close to the classic of Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada. All valid questions from Cody to the world. Was it better? And in Cody’s eyes, taking out Dustin was the only way to prove that new is better than the old school.

With a tear in his eye, Cody made this all real. He made these claims and threats towards Dustin real.

Dustin’s response was a little simpler towards his brother. This wasn’t just about what his brother was threatening towards him. It was a chance to show the world that he still had plenty left in the tank. After months of the WWE not utilizing him, Dustin’s contract expired and he joined his brother in AEW. Could he take off the paint that defined much of his past 20 years and return to his “Natural” image? Two brothers, with the love of their legendary Dusty Rhodes in their hearts and want to prove they can deliver against each other, it became a match made in heaven. All leading to the beauty of professional wrestling.

The Match

The build-up put a ton of pressure on the match itself to deliver. And somehow, it went above and beyond that pressure. Dustin and Cody made their respective entrances for the match, with Cody’s destroying the throne of what many be believed to be Triple H and begin the movement that was All Elite. Las Vegas showered the two competitors with cheers ahead of their anticipated match. What they brought was physicality, story-telling, and old fashioned wrestling. It was on its way to an instant classic and got as gritty as possible as Dustin’s face became a crimson mask unlike any in years. One of two images that will be remembered forever is the blood dripping down Dustin’s face as he reversed the Figure Four and applied pressure.

These two hit each other with the kitchen sink and more in an instant classic. Cody finally had his brother’s number with one last Cross Rhodes to end it. After the three count, Cody considered leaving but instead turned around. He grabbed a microphone telling his brother that he is not done wrestling yet. After a match like that, he proved there was plenty left in the tank. He informed him that in a month’s time at Fight for the Fallen, he will be fighting the Young Bucks. But what he needed was not a partner, but his brother. The ultimate embrace happened in the middle of the ring, leaving an unforgettable memory for all. And so the best singles match in AEW history ended. A match that displayed heart and excellence in every sense of the word.

The Aftermath For Both Brothers

These flashbacks are not just to relive the moments from the first-ever AEW event, but discuss how things went for each competitor since. When discussing Dustin, he filled into the role that many expected. As one of the head coaches of All Elite Wrestling, Dustin has found a great role but perhaps one that underutilized him. He has formed a team with QT Marshall and Brandi Rhodes that is amongst the more interesting and unique combinations in the company. If we are being completely truthful, his utilization may be classified as underutilized.

Cody, on the other hand, has become the companies biggest and most beloved babyface since this match. When fans could pack arenas, he was receiving the loudest reactions week in and week out. His record is amongst the best in the company as well. His only downfalls are his losses to Chris Jericho at Full Gear and MJF at Revolution. But one year later, Cody has found himself on Double or Nothing in a match that could very well be the main event. “The American Nightmare” will attempt to make history by defeating Lance Archer to become the first-ever TNT Champion. It is a feud that has been among the best in recent months and will see Cody possibly win his first title in AEW.

No matter how you look at the handling of these men since. It is clear that these two delivered the best singles match AEW has seen to this point and no one may have expected that from a company that employs “The Best Bout Machine,” Kenny Omega. Of course, it was only year one and there is a good chance it will be succeeded eventually. Until then, we remember the greatness of this instant classic.

More From LWOPW

Stay tuned to Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can catch AEW Wednesday nights at 8 PM ET on TNT and weekly on YouTube.

1 COMMENT

  1. You have GOT to be kidding!!!

    The first few times I watched anything about AEW (I will pay visually but NOT for any of their PPVs), it struck me Cody would be using his father’s $, along with what he himself had been paid (but NOT “earned”) in the business, to sign big-name stars (in-ring & on-mic), which would then get people who like him had more $ than they know what to do with to buy tickets & PPVs.

    I’ve read Dustin’s book, but the fact remains Cody is the least-viewable member of his marriage, same as he was the least-watchable member of “Legacy” (& this is coming from a wrestling fan who’s thought quite often Orton’s less Viper than Vacuum.)

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