The bewildering feud between Brandi Rhodes and Dan Lambert began in December 2021.
In a true wrestling experiment, AEW tested what would happen if the two most unlikeable people in the company — neither one a wrestler — started trash-talking each other.
The first trial began when Dan Lambert cut a promo on Brandi’s husband Cody.
Lambert, founder of the American Top Team MMA gym, had garnered nuclear heat from his very first AEW segment, insulting both the fans and the promotion itself.
So in a way, it made sense to pair Dan Lambert and his team of American Tops against Cody Rhodes. If anyone could get the would-be babyface cheered, if only by default, it was Dan.
Cody, said Dan Lambert, was one of the biggest politickers in wrestling history, glad-handing his way into main events…
…and a reality show that “absolutely sucks”.
Taking exception to the accusations of favoritism….
…Cody emerged from under the giant chandelier built specifically for his entrance. Fan reaction was mixed — most booed, some hissed.
Much like Martin Luther King, though Cody is remembered fondly by AEW fans now that he’s gone, he was hated in his day.
After playing tug of war with Lambert over the microphone, Cody picked a fight with the Men of the Year.
Brother Dustin soon joined him in getting his ass kicked…
…until Sammy Guevara made the save with one of those impractical fadeaway cutters.
Weeks later, Lambert was back to run down Cody once more. Along the way he called his wife Brandi Rhodes a whore (and possibly a former stripper) who had gotten old.
Fans were aghast until Lambert said Cody’s neck tattoo looked stupid…
…which drew audible applause.
Clearing her throat on the mic, Brandi Rhodes interrupted…
…and got booed! Though the audience took exception to Lambert’s sexist insults on principle, they actually didn’t like Brandi Rhodes. Really, really didn’t like her.
It didn’t help that she whiffed on her first insult, calling Dan Lambert a “less talented version of Paul Heyman”. Not only was it bad form to compare your own company’s talent unfavorably to WWE’s…
…but she somehow missed that Lambert’s character — a misogynistic loudmouth who hated AEW and its fans — was the most obvious Jim Cornette avatar since the Young Bucks’ children’s book.
Dan himself corrected her, then said her voice made him want to puncture his scrotum.
“At least my fam thinks that’s funny, thanks” retorted Brandi, pointing to the Men of the Year. I don’t know what this meant, and neither did anyone in the audience.
Speaking over the boos, Brandi asked Dan the last time he “got beat up by a woman and didn’t have to pay for it”. The joke here was that Lambert was kinky, but it also meant that aside from the sex thing, he’d never been beaten up by a woman.
Anyway, Fresh Prince did it better.
Lambert cycled through his stripper jokes again, then told Brandi he’s a black belt who’d gladly beat her up.
“Oh, so you’re a black belt?” Asked Brandi Rhodes. “Well I’m a Black bitch!” A sixth-degree Black bitch, if I’m not mistaken.
As the two crowd least-favorites prepared to duke it out, Jim Ross remarked that “this was not good booking here”. For once, JR was right on the money in AEW!
Dustin Rhodes intervened, only to get blindsided by Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page, bringing the segment to a merciful end.
The Rhodes-Lambert feud crept onto TV once more about a month later. Of course by now, AEW knew the fans would never cheer Brandi, so they leaned into it, having her taunt the crowd.
She lasted less than thirty seconds before Lambert interrupted her, drawing cheers.
Yet again, fans were subjected to a battle of Cheap Heat vs. Go-Away Heat.
This time around, Dan said her AAVE accent was fake, and so were her boobs. Lambert lampshaded the fact that Brandi made him, the most loathsome man in wrestling, seem popular in comparison.
Brandi responded by burying another AEW performer, this time putting over an Impact wrestler.
Rhodes then shifted gears, praising Dan Lambert’s accomplishments as an MMA trainer. She was going somewhere with all of this…
…but the fans, who told her to “shut the f*** up” for a solid minute, did not seem invested.
Dan, said Brandi, should stick to “American Top Tits… I mean Team!” This was a reference to MMA fighter Paige VanZant’s breast implants (which were the tops!).
So Lambert found an extremely contrived way to call Brandi Rhodes a whore again…
…Brandi slapped him like a marionette….
…and Dan sicced Paige VanZant on her.
Within seconds, the women’s locker room rushed into the ring to pull the two apart.
Had every woman in the company lined up behind the curtain, just waiting for a chance to get on TV? Considering how often they’re actually booked on Dynamite, I can’t blame them.
At last, there was an endgame to this feud: a six-person tag match between Lambert’s crew and the Rhodes Family. The only problem, of course, was that the fans hated everyone involved except maybe Dustin.
But the match never came. Shockingly, Cody and Brandi Rhodes left the company right after this segment…
…rocketing straight to the top of WWE (except for Brandi).
Back in AEW, Sammy Guevara and Tay Melo took the Rhodes’s place — not only as Dan Lambert’s foils, but as the company’s most-hated couple.
But, like Veer Mahaan, that’s another induction for another week.