Cody returned to AEW on the September 23 edition of Dynamite. The company founder and former TNT champion had been out of the picture since August 13, when he was destroyed by Mr. Brodie Lee.

In one night, Cody lost his championship and his dignity. He was squashed and left for dead, causing many fans to wonder what was next for The American Nightmare. Cody’s return was imminent and his mission is now clear. Cody wants to destroy The Dark Order.

That mission was highly achievable just one year ago. The Dark Order was Evil Uno and Stu Grayson, two guys who were less than relevant. They were at the forefront of a faction that was a punchline at best and no matter how often AEW spotlighted them, most fans weren’t buying it. 

But this is not the same Dark Order. The organization has increased from two members to nine. Their influence is far-reaching and is felt throughout the entire company. Uno and Grayson have never looked better as a team and their recruitment efforts regarding the AEW roster have made the headlines on a regular basis.

Watch Cody’s return to AEW!

Of course the most important development for The Dark Order has been the addition of their leader. From the moment that Brodie Lee was revealed to be The Exalted One, The Dark Order has flourished. He gave them instant credibility, taking them from low-rent cultists  to high-end power brokers.

]Lee’s desire to flex his creative muscles has been matched only by his physical prowess in the ring, both of which has breathed new life into his pro wrestling career. The former Wyatt Family strongman has truly found himself in AEW and more importantly, in his new family. But Lee’s presence has done more than just legitimized The Dark Order. Lee has put his faction firmly in the crosshairs

Cody is now taking aim at the group and with good reason. Lee has very publicly harassed Cody’s wife Brandi on social media. He’s also made life miserable for Cody’s Nightmare family, including his brother Dustin Rhodes. But Lee’s biggest transgression was that of underestimating Cody’s heart. 

It’s not wise to put a Rhodes to the test and expect no response. Cody is very much his father’s  son. Like Dusty, Cody does his best work when his back is against the wall. He doesn’t know what it means to surrender and despite the outcome, he always goes down fighting. This is the Rhodes way.

Relive Cody’s loss to Lee!

It’s also the Rhodes way to face a challenge head-on with no fear. Cody knows he’s outnumbered against The Dark Order. That’s especially true now, since The Elite have imploded in his absence. The Young Bucks kicked Hangman Adam Page out. Kenny Omega made it clear that he’s done with Page and now The Young Bucks appear to be going off the rails in the company.

This leaves only Cody to fight the good fight and the war has never been bigger than it is with The Dark Order. Mr. Brodie Lee is so dominant that he may as well be the AEW World champion and that’s exactly how he carries himself in the company. His followers obey him despite the amount of obvious disdain he has for them and that allegiance is only growing stronger. 

Brodie Lee has proven to be unstoppable and no one in AEW appears to have the answer to The Dark Order problem. They are a cancer in the company and the only way to stop them is to treat the group like the threat that it is. Cody is fully aware of what lies ahead of him and he seems to be ready for the challenge. So what happens now?

Watch Brodie challenge Cody!

Following Cody’s return, an infuriated Brodie Lee challenged him to a Dog Collar Match. He gave Cody one week to respond and that response will surely be yes. Cody wants to take The Dark Order down, that much is certain. But he surely also wants his TNT Championship back. But it likely will not be that easy.

Brodie Lee wants to fight, but he has a small army protecting him. Why not send that army to do his fighting for him until his match with Cody takes place? Fans could see Cody be forced to go through one Dark Order solider after another over the coming weeks and if so, Cody will rise to the occasion as only he can.

This storyline reestablishes Cody as the cowboy that his father was and the warrior that he as always been. He will overcome the odds and his eventual showdown with Brodie Lee will undoubtedly be an old school battle of blood. Who remains standing after the battle is over remains to be seen.


Tom Clark is a Senior Pro Wrestling Analyst and Featured Columnist for Wrestling Rumors. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, YouTube and live every Friday at 12pm EST on Wrestling Rumors Facebook Live


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