From mild-mannered ring announcer and backstage interviewer to nefarious heel manager to Chief Brand Officer of All Elite Wrestling. The professional wrestling career of Brandi Rhodes has been anything but ordinary. Her professional endeavors began in local news reporting. She then transitioned into an academic career at the University of Miami. There she would earn her master’s degree in broadcast journalism. One could argue that the skills associated with this major – public speaking and overall communication, just to name a few – would prove invaluable as Rhodes became involved in pro wrestling.
In 2011, Rhodes signed with World Wrestling Entertainment, being transitioned to its developmental branch, Florida Championship Wrestling. Going by her first name, “Brandi,” on television, Rhodes would have a brief run as a manager before transitioning into announcing. She would perform on various shows, including SmackDown and NXT. NXT was more of a physical challenge-focused program at the time. Announcing would be her main role in WWE later down the road. However, her first run in the company would end later in the year in December.
Brandi Rhodes would return to WWE in 2013, this time as “Eden”. She picked up where she left off as a ring announcer. She first appeared on NXT, which had since taken on a traditional wrestling show format. The following year, Rhodes transitioned to Main Event and SmackDown. She not only resumed ring announcing duties but became a backstage interviewer as well. If you tuned into an episode of SmackDown during this time, chances are that you saw Brandi Rhodes speaking to wrestlers or announcing said wrestlers as they made their way to the ring. She would make appearances on RAW to announce as well. In 2016, she requested her release from WWE, which was granted.
According to an interview on CBS Local Sports, one of the reasons Rhodes left WWE was lost potential. As someone who was athletically gifted, especially in the realm of figure skating, she longed to take on a more physical role in WWE. This was difficult due to her responsibilities in announcing. She was mentioned in the feud between The Rhodes Family and The Authority in 2013, due to her marriage to Cody. However, she wasn’t directly involved in storylines with long-term implications. Furthermore, since Cody was granted his release a few days before she was, leaving WWE provided her with the opportunity to work alongside him. As a result, she was able to branch out into other areas of pro wrestling.
After having toiled in the indies for a number of months, Rhodes would make her first major appearance since leaving WWE. She did this by appearing on TNA’s 2016 Bound for Glory. She accompanied her husband, Cody, to the ring as they confronted the duo of Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis. Only a few weeks later, they would take on Bennett & Kanellis in mixed tag team competition. The Rhodes couple would get the win via double submission. Rhodes would be involved in Cody’s next feud, this time with Moose. This would also be the couple’s last major involvement in the company. In 2017, Rhodes requested her release from TNA. The scuttlebutt is that TNA requested a certain percentage of the earnings talent made outside of the company. It was therefore rumored to have prompted this decision.
In Ring of Honor, where Rhodes debuted in 2007, it could be argued that she made her greatest impact as an in-ring talent. She became entrenched in the Women of Honor division, competing alongside the likes of Ashley Vox, Mandy Leon, and Sumie Sakai, the latter of whom would become the first-ever Women of Honor Champion. Following their exit from WWE, Cody helped Rhodes with wrestling training, which she did well in. Cody cited that his wife’s past as a figure skater helped, particularly in regard to footing, which is one of the more overlooked aspects of wrestling.
Rhodes was at her husband’s side during his matches in New Japan Pro Wrestling, where they debuted in 2017 at Wrestle Kingdom 11. She would not only accompany her husband to the ring but lend an assist whenever she deemed necessary. For example, at Wrestle Kingdom 12 the following year, Cody faced Kota Ibushi. Early in the match, Brandi feigned an injury after Ibushi accidentally caught her with a cross body to the outside of the ring. As Ibushi assisted the fallen Rhodes, Cody caught him with a punch that laid him out. The Rhodes couple had a hearty laugh at this nefarious tactic. Rhodes proved to be a mastermind, as such tactics would help Cody gain an advantage over anyone he faced.
When All Elite Wrestling was unveiled at the beginning of 2019, Rhodes revealed that she signed as the promotion’s Chief Brand Officer. As CBO, Rhodes will be responsible for maintaining AEW’s promotional endeavors, including, but not limited to, partnership development, community outreach, and public relations. Essentially, Rhodes will be responsible for maintaining the promotion’s public image, which will be especially important as the promotion in question continues to grow.
In an interview with MultiMediaMouth, Rhodes discussed the vision she had for AEW. According to her, the goal of the promotion is to provide an alternative, which will focus on the fans by giving them the content they want. Rhodes also touched on television, which has been one of the more secretive topics since the announcement of AEW. While she wasn’t able to give specifics, as they could change, she stressed the importance of Double or Nothing, the promotion’s first big event, in May. From there, information about TV may be divulged.
Though AEW is still a new name in the world of pro wrestling, the buzz behind it is undeniable. Much of this buzz can be attributed to Brandi’s efforts as CBO, which will only become more essential to the promotion’s success. Rhodes’ trajectory in wrestling might have been unordinary, but it can’t be denied that it yielded results and will only continue to do so in the future.
Originally written by Robbie Sutter
Previous AEW Talent Previews: