Being a young talent in the world of sports entertainment can be really difficult. Pro-wrestling promoters are always hesitant to rely on young talent over established stars. More often than not those same established stars are afraid to give an inch to these new guys in fear of losing their spot and their paycheck Also, we fans are usually critical of new talent, almost immediately judging whether they have a future or not based on first impressions. All of this can easily crush the dreams of a new performer before he or she can establish a proper fan base. On a larger scale, this can lead to the product growing stale and revenue dropping off for everyone involved.
Now, being crushed by the system isn’t always the fate of the new guy. In an earlier episode I talked about CM Punk who defied the odds and the backstage politics and became a white hot superstar. Today, I’d like to talk about somebody different who defied the odds and became a future hall-of-famer (yeah I’m calling it). Cody Rhodes showed up in July 2007 and, although he was athletic and well-trained, he was less than impressive. He was the son of Dusty Rhodes and the brother of Goldust but that didn’t win him any points. If he wasn’t going to wow us then he could be the lovechild of Ric Flair and Jake Roberts for all I cared. Instead, when he first showed up he looked and acted like a default Create-A-Wrestler in a video game. No charisma, pretty boy appearance and very athletic without an interesting list of moves.
Of course, Cody Rhodes was a Real Wrestler and he had the ability to adapt and change, he just had to work on his charisma problem. That would apparently have to wait as his character decided that he would rather be successful than loved. He turned on the fans who, like me, probably didn’t feel all that betrayed. He teamed with a fellow second generation up and comer, Ted Dibiase and they started to run roughshod over opponents. People started to care about Cody Rhodes but they hated him for what he was. He was the son of a legend and he was in front of a camera, expecting everyone to love him with no accomplishments under his belt. People started to hate him because people hate entitlement.
So they gathered up all of the second generation stars and formed a team known as the Legacy. But what’s better than being an entitled asshole? Being an entitled asshole who betrays his friends. Teaming up with Randy Orton was a shot in the arm for Cody’s career. He was part of a faction now and under the leadership of a ruthless man and it started to rub off on Cody. He started to develop more of a personal style and added to his move set which included taking at least one move from his mentor or partner. Orton, Rhodes and DiBiase were dominant for two years where all three of them were able to hone their craft more. Randy became a little less boring, Cody became more interesting and Ted was OK. Finally, it came time for Cody to leave the nest.
They decided to make Cody into a singles wrestler and take him in a somewhat new direction. He became “Dashing” Cody Rhodes and he finally got to talk more. Really, a wrestler who can’t talk is mostly doomed to lingering just short of the top of heap. Thankfully, Cody could talk and Cody could piss people off and create rivalries between himself and his opponent. He loved the way he looked and was not afraid to tell the world that he was better looking than anybody else. So we now had a pretty boy who was arrogant, entitled and backstabbing. I do believe that’s considered a hat trick. He started to evolve even more and grow in the new space he was allowed.
By a stroke of luck, Cody had an unlucky incident. He got his nose broken legitimately by Rey Mysterio Jr. and had to take a little time off to get it fixed. He returned with a darker character, devastated and psychologically twisted by the loss of his good looks. He looked just the same as ever but the character believed he was hideous now. He became a dark figure who wanted to scar the world and grind it under his boot. He became “Un-Dashing”. In the process, he became an even better performer.
Eventually they teamed such an annoying pretty boy with the self-proclaimed smartest guy in the company, Damien Sandow. Team Rhodes Scholars was great for Cody and Sandow. It allowed both of them to work more on their mic skills and develop their characters a little more. They also seemed to learn a lot from each other’s in ring styles.
After a while, the two big egos eventually feuded with Cody finally becoming a good guy again after all this time. His bright lights shined until he hit a brick wall named Randy Orton and the Authority. At which point, his character was fired. He returned alongside his brother Goldust and the two worked together even though they had not encountered each other much in their careers. They worked together well and Cody was able to reconnect with his family and become a bit of a fan favorite.
Eventually the two brothers ran into some trouble and it looked like we were finally going to see the two sons of Dusty Rhodes go at it one on one. Alas it was not to be but what we got was even weirder. Cody reforged himself as a counterpart to the Goldust character. He was now known as Stardust and he became manic and just as unconventional as his brother. The two of them continue to fight side by side to this day. Every so often they tease the feud that I would enjoy so much.
So that’s a little retrospective on Cody Rhodes career. It can only go up from here and I predict that, unless something goes wrong, he’ll be in the Hall of Fame. He might even win the Heavyweight Championship. Only time and the stars will tell….