Everybody Is Awful: The AEW Feud Between Cody Rhodes and Anthony Ogogo Has No Babyface
At All Elite Wrestling’s Double Or Nothing pay-per-view on May 30, experienced professional wrestler Cody Rhodes will go one-on-one with retired professional boxer Anthony Ogogo. The match will (hopefully) mark the culmination of one of the strangest pro-wrestling feuds in recent memory.
Strange? Yes. But Not Entirely Unenjoyable. Let’s unpack this feud and see if we can get to the bottom of what makes it so weirdly engaging.
Anthony Ogogo: AEW’s Very Own Olympic Medalist
Anthony Ogogo is a former professional boxer who represented Great Britain at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. His boxing record stands at 11 wins from 12 fights, with 7 of those wins coming from KO. He retired from boxing in 2019 at the age of 30 after being blinded in one eye. When his boxing career was cut short so abruptly, Ogogo was forced to consider his next career move.
“I’m seriously considering becoming a professional wrestler, I may join one of the big companies and do some wrestling because it has always been something I’ve enjoyed,” Ogogo said in an interview with Mark Armstrong of the Eastern Daily Press in June of 2019. “At first it was a bit of a guilty pleasure because most kids get to an age where it’s all glitz and glam and the wrestling, if you’re a kid, is exciting as you don’t know it’s scripted. It’s an amazing show and as a kid I fell in love with it. As I grew older, I thought I would grow out of it but I never have—and if anything it’s the opposite, I love it even more.”
Ogogo signed for AEW in October of that year, becoming the company’s first developmental wrestler. Under the tutelage of Dustin Rhodes and QT Marshall, the Olympian committed his future to the world of professional wrestling.
On the April 14 edition of Dynamite, Ogogo won his debut AEW match in emphatic fashion after he clobbered his opponent in the gut with a devastating punch. In the wake of that match, Ogogo introduced himself as “The Guv’nor.”
Whether or not Ogogo is truly ready for a marquee match on AEW’s biggest event of the year remains to be seen, but in the few appearances he’s made on Dynamite to-date, he’s shown that he understands how to develop a character. His role right now is that of a jingoistic, ungrateful Brit who despises the United Stated and everyone in them. It’s a schtick that’s be done before, but so far Ogogo has done it justice with a combination of engaging promos and well-crafted social media posts.
But therein lies the problem. Ogogo is almost doing too good of a job to be wholly unlikeable. 20+ years ago, his anti-American screeds would have gone down harder than one of the seven men he knocked out during his career as boxer. His actions and rhetoric would have been interpreted as villainous, and he would have been utterly despised all across the United States of America. But the landscape had changed. Wrestling fans these days are far more socially conscious. They’re more alert to injustices in society, especially racism. It’s very difficult for a person of color who criticizes the US healthcare system to be seen as a bad guy.
The lifeline for Ogogo is the fact that his homeland is currently governed by a right-wing nationalist party who have overwhelming public support. The Guv’nor emits strong Brexiteer energy, and if he leans into that element of the character, he should be okay.
Cody Rhodes Should Read The Room
Cody’s promo on the May 12 edition of Dynamite was not well-received. Aside from the fact that his answer to Ogogo’s unbridled jingoism was more jingoism, it was just clunky and awkward. It too may have gotten the desired reaction had it been delivered in a pervious decade, but in 2021, it didn’t land in the way he wanted it to.
During the promo, Cody even referenced the fact that patriotism is out of style! But for some reason he thinks it’s a good idea to revive the trite “American hero defends his country from evil foreigner” trope. In the ring, Cody Rhodes is capable of putting on some absolutely thrilling matches. He’s an asset to AEW, but he’s so much better than this.
Cody also revealed that he would be adopting his late father’s “American Dream” moniker for this match, which should’ve been a huge moment. Sadly though, given the promo that came before it, his revelation did not get the desired reaction. Cody’s over-the-top patriotisms isn’t sitting well with many wrestling fans. It seems as though a lot of people want to see Anthony Ogogo hurt Cody even though Ogogo is equally patriotic about his own homeland. To be sure, it’s a strange state of affairs.
Cody’s decision to book himself as a the whitest of white meat babyfaces in a feud against a charismatic newcomer with an inspiring real-life backstory was certainly a questionable one. It’s pretty obvious that the feud isn’t quite connecting with fans in the way that Cody perhaps imagined it would, but it has become a thoroughly entertaining curio of an angle none-the-less. Whatever happens, Anthony Ogogo Vs. Cody Rhodes is the transatlantic jingoistic chudfest we all deserve.