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Monday, May 23, 2016

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Thank You Cody

By @SpeedontheBeat

Over the weekend, news broke that longtime WWE talent Cody Rhodes requested his release due to, in his words, some of creative not being willing to let him "roll the dice" and be Cody again (versus the "paint-up like your brother" character of Stardust). I'm not here to speculate on how things went down, I'm not here to talk about how WWE has underutilized talents to no end. That much is, time and time again, apparent. I'm not here to lament on what could've been done better. Cody seems to be ready to restart and rebuild better than before. However, I would like to take a bit of your time to talk Cody Rhodes, not in an "overrating nostalgic" sense, but as a wrestler--and The Son of A Son of a Plumber.

When Cody first came onto my radar, he was taking his lumps from Randy Orton during Orton's Legend Killer 2.0 run (technically, 2005-2007 was all "Legend Killer," I know. But, there was a break between the iterations. That's not important, though). Rhodes, a young man who took pride, like Goldust, in being Dusty's son, gave his all against Orton but ultimately lost. However, in those early matches, you could see that Rhodes spirit. He wasn't perfect, but through those initial matches--and his eventual team-up with Hardcore Holly--you could see that Rhodes was a talent you should keep your eye on. His Tag Team Championship win(s) showed this as well.

Then came The Legacy. If you know WWE, you know that they've, sometimes, had a hard time keeping stables fresh and relevant. They tend to either get overexposed and fans tune them out...or they break up, reconvene, then break up again because someone's broken out--either organically or via a forcible push (a la The Shield)--or because reasons (see "most stables since 2010"). But, Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase Jr., and, ironically enough, Randy Orton together, for me, it was gold.

It was a simple enough premise. Cody, Ted, and Randy were sons of WWE Legends. Because of this, they'd go out and exert their legacy status on the WWE and beat the shit out of anyone who came in their way. The group got so maniacal in their ways that Triple H had to reunite DX (again), elevating Rhodes and The Legacy team to main event status. While Randy was the leader of The Legacy, it was Rhodes who received, to me, the bigger rub. I mean, the guy was getting sledgehammered by Triple H in a HIAC match. Can't really go bigger than that, especially that early in your career.

After the dissolution of Legacy, we were treated to, for me, one of the better gimmicks of the "PG Era." When Rhodes was drafted back to Smackdown, he started becoming a "Not the face" primadonna (think Miz but less annoying) who demanded people refer to him as "Dashing" Cody Rhodes. It felt like a throwback to the Rick Martels of the past, but a lot more nimble since Cody was able to move quicker than a Rick Martel. During his run as "Dashing"/"Undashing" Cody Rhodes, Rhodes made a very bold statement by reintroducing the white Intercontinental Championship belt.

Unseen since the 1980s, the white IC belt was, like his character at this time, a throwback to the "rasslin'" days of WWE. As IC champion, Cody put on some incredible matches, squaring up against folks from John Morrison to Randy Orton to Daniel Bryan. You want to see some solid matches, check out Cody's IC run between 2011-2012 (yes, even his defense against Big Show at WM 27, for what it was, is worth watching). Are they all five-star matches? Eh...no. But, Rhodes definitely showcased why he should've been a WWE World Heavyweight Champion. For example, his match versus Randy Orton--who else, right? The match is insane, not even just because Orton legit caused Rhodes to get nine stitches (it was, apparently, pretty heavily edited in some showings). It's a pretty brutal match that warrants at least one watching, just to see the chemistry Rhodes and Orton had (and the main event legitimacy Rhodes exhibited).

But, after moving on from the Intercontinental Championship, Rhodes, with his new pr0n 'stache, teamed up with Damien Sandow to create Team Rhodes Scholars. Like a lot of Rhodes' post-2012 gimmicks, it could've faltered under others' watch. But Sandow and Rhodes created a team that, like their rivals, Team Hell No, you couldn't help but get in line behind. They meshed well, both had so much legendary training behind their moves, and the teaming gave Daniel Bryan and Kane someone to feud with, aside from themselves.

As The Authority started to creep in, and as Rhodes slowly became face versus his former Rhodes Scholars teammate, Cody Rhodes began another ascent. Teaming up with his brother Goldust and his father Dusty Rhodes (RIP), the Rhodes squared off against The Shield and other Authority minions to keep their jobs. Things started out well. Cody was getting TV time, I was happy to see The Dust Brothers be a thing. And then, somewhere along the way (read: around 2015), things got weird.

Stardust killed Cody Rhodes, the wrestler (not the person, because that's taking it a bit far, but...yeah).

That's pretty much the best way to sum up Cody's last year-plus within WWE. He, in his own words, took chicken shit and turned it into chicken salad, as a specialty because he loves wrestling. Stardust was a tribute, in some ways, to Dusty Rhodes. But Cody wanted to revert; he wasn't allowed to. So, what did Rhodes do? He went out there and wrestled with Stephen Amell and made it look halfway legit (Amell did his part as well). He put on a helluva match at WM 32 with Zack Ryder, Miz, and so on. He teamed up with The Ascension in an effort to keep them relevant (and succeeded for a while).

This is a man whose entire family has laid the groundwork for a lot of what's great about wrestling. Dusty's promos are legendary. And Goldust, as weird and gimmicky as he is, at times, helped create and set the tone for the Attitude Era right along with Rock, Austin, and Foley. Without the Rhodes family, wrestling would be a lot less fun, in my eyes.

Truth be told, it saddens and pisses me off that Cody had to go out like this as he was always one of my favorite wrestlers. The man could go and he had all the tools to be "The Guy." But, he's The Son of a Son of A Plumber. He'll be back. Will it be for WWE? I don't know. I'd love for him to make his mark elsewhere then have WWE need him back for a WWEWHC run. I'd love for a Rhodes to finally win the WWEWHC. However, I just want to see Cody prosper, and I feel he's got a golden opportunity to do so.

So, Cody Rhodes, I want to say thank you. Thank you for putting your body and spirit on the line for the past 10-plus years to entertain us and keep us enthralled in your matches. Thank you for, like your brother, keeping the legacy of The American Dream alive. Thank you for going out there and, even with not-so-hot gimmicks, giving us your all. There aren't many people, in wrestling or otherwise, who can do what you've done.


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