With the prospects of CM Punk returning to AEW growing less and less tenable with each passing day, with Dave Meltzer going so far as to suggest that punk has been “voted off the island” by a locker room – including Chris Jericho – that basically wants nothing to do with him moving forward, fans have started to wonder what situations involving the man formerly known as the “Best in the World” also led to less than ideal results in AEW. It's pretty well assumed that Punk led to Colt Cabana being pushed from AEW to Ring of Honor, but what about MJF's big blowup that results in a no-show in Las Vegas before Double or Nothing? Did Punk somehow have something to do with that? Or how about “Hangman” Adam Page's curious booking? Could Punk's issues with the “Hanger” have to do with his strange usage post-All Out?

Fortunately, fans now at least know one now-former member of the AEW roster who didn't leave the promotion because of issues he had with Punk or his backstage brawl opponents(?) The Elite either: Cody Rhodes.

That's right, after a Twitter used responded to a picture posted by the very fun Matt Jackson: Out of Context account asking if Punk had anything to do with Rhodes' decision to leave AEW in favor of WWE, the currently injured RAW star decided to nip that question in the bud before it became a bigger rumor.

“I didn’t leave because of the Bucks/Kenny,” Rhodes wrote. “I’m forever bonded to those men over what we created and I remain very proud of it, and I didn’t leave because of/or have issues with Punk. We got along. Not money, not booking, just a personal issue and my wanting to go for the big one.”

This makes sense, as, according to Justin Barrass of Sports Illustrated, the “personal issue” Rhodes had with AEW was his lost booking abilities, as he explained in a column back in February.

While Rhodes was never intended to overstay his welcome in the world title picture, one key factor that led to this exit was losing all responsibilities involving booking. That is a role where Khan, who is the head of creative, has taken full rein. Originally, Rhodes was part of that process. As great as Dusty Rhodes was as a performer, his contributions as a booker are an integral part of his legacy. For Rhodes, AEW represented another chance to pay homage to his father as a booker while also further cementing his own legacy. Losing that opportunity in AEW hurt Rhodes more than any loss he suffered in the ring.

Even if the EVPs at the time were on good terms professionally, which is about the extent of their relationship ever was according to Dave Meltzer, it's clear they didn't have the same deeply personal relationship that Omega and The Bucks have shared since they began Being The Elite during their shared time in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Still, after forming the first true competitor for WWE in a generation, it's clear the original EVPs will share a special bond that lives on forever.

Cody Rhodes still has one very big supporter in the AEW locker room.

While Rhodes apparently didn't have any issues with Punk or The Elite during his final run in AEW before effectively opting out of his contract and making his triumphant return to WWE, one person in TK's locker room who had the opposite of a problem with Dustin's younger brother is none other than Wardlow, who notoriously wrestled Rhodes in a steal cage on the way to his eventual bout with MJF at Revolution 2020, as he detailed on the ESPR Wrestling Podcast, as passed along by 411 Mania.

I don’t know if I would say let down, because I love Cody, and I will support whatever he wants to do with his life, so I would never hold that against him, and I told him that. I personally do miss his presence in the locker room … he does have a very positive presence backstage, and he was somebody I could comfortably go to, and speak to, so I do miss having him around. But, I will always wish him the best of luck in whatever he does.”

Had Rhodes stuck around, maybe he would have had a more expansive storyline with Wardlow, maybe even one where the heel-face dynamic was flipped in the way fans had been desperate to see for the final act of the “American Nightmare's” run in the promotion. Unfortunately, that one will have to be relegated to the fantasy booking department or to the AEW: Fight Forever video game, which Rhodes is likely to still be a character in.