Why Brandi Rhodes Failed in AEW

The former Chief Brand Officer of AEW has had an interesting path in professional wrestling. While her husband, Cody Rhodes, was born into the business thanks to his father Dusty, Brandi never started out with the intention of becoming a wrestling athlete. Though she was very competitive prior to her wrestling experience, she was mostly signed to Florida Championship Wrestling due to WWE’s past edict of preferring model instead of female talents with wrestling experience. Brandi Rhodes had a grand total of one match during her two stints with WWE and left the second time due to Cody Rhodes’s exit. Once AEW formed, Brandi’s ring announcing duties were no longer existent as the Chief Brand Officer mainly focused her efforts inside of the ring. Unfortunately, it’s part of the reason why Brandi’s tenure within All Elite Wrestling turned out to be such a bust.

I’m not going to trash Brandi’s wrestling ability. With her role backstage, she didn’t particularly have to get inside of the ring. I’m sure Brandi worked extremely hard and though she was far from the best talent on the roster, her wrestling somewhat improved as time passed by. The biggest issue was Brandi’s character. Cody was more of a tweener acting heelish more often than not, but at least his “American Nightmare” gimmick was consistent. Brandi’s character mostly flipped from babyface to heel, and even though Brandi admitted to always playing the heel in AEW, some of her storylines proved otherwise. The Nightmare Collective faction was a disaster. It just wasn’t a good storyline; Given the fact that Awesome Kong couldn’t perform at the level that she used to, it even made their television time more head-scratching. How did the wife of Cody Rhodes suddenly venture into this dark, cult-like character? To AEW’s credit, they did keep Cody away from Brandi during this time, but there was still a black cloud lingering over the couple because we’re already aware of their relationship. It wasn’t a secret backstage thing as we’ve seen the couple come out onscreen multiple times following their WWE stint. It was an awkward transition for Brandi. The former WWE announcer is a tremendous talker, but the Nightmare Collective needs someone who fits the role better.

Thankfully, AEW and Brandi were wise to ditch the horrendous gimmick and though some attempts were made to explain Brandi’s sudden shift in character, it was likely best to just pretend that the Nightmare Collective never happened. However, Brandi’s tenure still remained up-and-down. Her feud with Shaq and Jade Cargill was bad due to the lack of effort in trying to build up the match in the first place. The end result of Cody/Red Velvet vs. Jade Cargill/Shaq was actually a fun spectacle that overdelivered due to how lousy everything leading up to it was. The one segment that popped up onscreen was the Brandi and Shaq interview, and it was nothing more than a confusing mess. At this point, Brandi’s character was in neutral territory since she realigned with her husband. The problem is, apparently Shaq and Cargill were heels during this time. The first clue was the former basketball star destroying his studio set following the announcement of his first-ever match. The second was that Shaq was actually coming off as prick during his meet-up with Brandi. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a clear and defined character for either Shaq or Brandi, so the segment ultimately seemed as if she was the true heel. Brandi stepped out of the spotlight following the announcement of her pregnancy, but the damage was already done.

The former Chief Brand Officer couldn’t rely on wrestling talent to get the crowd on her side. Say what you will about Cody Rhodes, but the former TNT Champion was a top-notch athlete who has more than a handful of great matches throughout his time in the company. Plus, a good portion of her segments were generating negative heat, but not in the way officials really wanted to. Brandi just never settled into the right groove when it comes to her run in All Elite Wrestling. Even if the end result of the Nightmare Collective would’ve saw something incredible, the destination there was painfully dreadful. Following that, there never seemed to be much purpose to her character other being Cody’s wife. There’s nothing wrong with being a valet, but that did feel like Brandi’s defined role either as A) Cody is a strong talker and never needed a valet and B) She never added much to Cody’s character other than eye candy. Brandi is clearly talented; however, the former AEW star does need to figure out who she is and what her true purpose in wrestling will be.

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