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Mike Pankow

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Cody Rhodes: From roads well-traveled to new horizons

Cody Rhodes: From roads well-traveled to new horizons

By Mike Pankow

August 31, 2019

Being the son of “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, Cody Rhodes hasn’t always enjoyed smooth sailing in professional wrestling.

For Cody, the path to become one of the executive vice presidents and a top star for fledgling All Elite Wrestling has endured many twists and turns.

Cody Rhodes spent a decade under the WWE umbrella, but he now is breaking out as part of All Elite Wrestling. He will face Shawn Spears at All Out in suburban Chicago on Saturday night.  (Photo by Mike Pankow)

Cody Rhodes spent a decade under the WWE umbrella, but he now is breaking out as part of All Elite Wrestling. He will face Shawn Spears at All Out in suburban Chicago on Saturday night. (Photo by Mike Pankow)

And the latest turn brings Cody into the Chicago area for All Out, AEW’s biggest pay-per-view of the year, for a spotlight match against Shawn Spears on Saturday night at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates. As a bonus, Spears will have Tully Blanchard, a charter member of the legendary Four Horsemen and a rival of Dusty Rhodes, in his corner.

After Cody went to a 20-minute time-limit draw with Darby Allin at Fyter Fest in June, Spears came into the ring and blasted Cody in the head with the ‘Chairshot Heard Around the World.’ Cody’s head was busted open as blood covered the back of his head.

Spears, the former Tye Dillinger in WWE, made a swift and significant statement by turning heel on his old friend from over a decade ago when the duo met in Ohio Valley Wrestling in Louisville.

“[Spears] taught me how to wrestle,” Cody said during his “From Undesirable to Undeniable” interview with Tony Schiavone at Starrcast on Thursday night. “It’s a scary thing when you show up in OVW and everybody knows your last name and they assume you know everything. I didn’t know anything. He showed me how to wrestle. I always felt bad I left Louisville after 11 months and had a wonderful career and be able to be on the main roster and he was in developmental for over 10 years. The chairshot aside, he was really important to who I am as a wrestler.”

He joined OVW, then a developmental territory of WWE, in May 2006 and was also trained by “Nightmare” Danny Davis and Al Snow.

“I made a call to John Laurinatis,” Cody said. “He met at the Marriott in Atlanta. He told me, ‘Well, I was going to hire you because you’re Dusty’s kid, but the job is going to be ready hard because you’re Dusty’s kid.’ ”

Many believed that Cody could have been a WWE lifer since his quick ascension as a member of the Legacy faction about a decade ago with Randy Orton and Ted DiBiase Jr.

But Cody’s near-decade run with WWE was a roller-coaster ride with start-and-stop pushes and a boatload of gimmicks.

He was “Dashing” Cody Rhodes for a while, complete with vignettes on health and beauty and grooming tips. Cody wrestled with a protective facemask for a time and put paper bags on fans’ heads at ringside. He and Damien Sandow teamed up for a bit as “Rhodes Scholars” and were an entertaining unit, but both were criminally underutilized. In fact, Cody and Sandow were infamously bumped from WrestleMania 29 when the eight-person tag match of Rhodes Scholars and the Bella Twins against Brodus Clay, Sweet T and the Funkadactyls was scrapped because of time constraints.

Then Cody and Sandow feuded after Sandow turned on Cody to win the Money In The Bank ladder match in 2013. Cody received a renewed push as he teamed with his brother Dustin (as Goldust) to defeat Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns to win the WWE World Tag Team Champions.

The last straw was the “Stardust” gimmick, which Cody explained was a Stephanie McMahon idea.

“They were just trying to help me and it was the worst help I could possibly get,” Cody said. “I liked that me and Dustin were different. The Chief Brand Officer of WWE said ‘Why don’t you paint for your face like your brother?’ She was only making a suggestion, but someone’s face just … (opens mouth wide, presumably referring to WWE Chairman Vince McMahon) … and there was nothing I could do at that point.”

The character was pushed for a short time and Cody even got a spotlight match at SummerSlam 2015 when Stardust and Wade Barrett faced “Arrow” star Stephen Amell and Neville (now known as PAC in AEW). But in less than a year, Cody dropped down the card and wasn’t featured regularly on television, leading him to requesting his release in May 2016.

“WWE let me grow up on their television show,” Cody said. “I think that was one of the problems near the end, I talked to (Triple-H), I talked to Vince. They still thought I was this kid. I can never not appreciate what they did for me. I met (my wife) Brandi there. I grew up there. It was the house that built me.”

But Cody needed an opportunity to remodel that house, going to the independent scene, then working with IMPACT Wrestling, Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling and eventually joining the Bullet Club.

It was during his travels around the indies and around the world where Cody met the Young Bucks. Along with Matt and Nick Jackson, Cody wanted to venture out and try to put together an independent show and sell out a 10,000-seat arena.

“I bet we can do this,” Cody said. “Then Dave (Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer) put out that tweet and I was hopped up. I’ll take that bet and every one of you guys proved him wrong and proved us right.”

All In last August at Sears Centre sold out in less than 30 minutes and was a rousing success. That success planted the seeds for AEW.

Cody’s contract with Ring of Honor expired shortly after All In while the Young Bucks, Hangman Page, Kenny Omega and the members of SCU’s deals ran out at the end of 2018.

“There was an unbelievable scenario where all these contracts are up.” Cody said. “We thought maybe we’d just do our own show. We already had the name ‘Double or Nothing.’

MJF, a close friend of Cody Rhodes, called Cody an “outlaw” after he helped create AEW.  (Photo by Mike Pankow)

MJF, a close friend of Cody Rhodes, called Cody an “outlaw” after he helped create AEW. (Photo by Mike Pankow)

Then die-hard wrestling fan Tony Khan, part of the ownership groups for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars and English Premier League’s Fulham franchise, approached the group. And just like that, AEW was conceived. Khan, a University of Illinois graduate, is loaded with resources and helped broker the company’s television deal with Turner.

“Cody did something absolutely unimaginable,” said MJF, Cody’s close friend, during a media scrum at Starrcast on Friday. “Cody decided to leave a juggernaut of our industry and start his own promotion, build his own name brand and make himself, force everyone to understand he’s a top guy. Cody Rhodes is an outlaw. That’s why I love him and that’s why I aspire to be like him.”

Cody’s bond with the core group of AEW was a huge influence in the emergence of the AEW brand.

“It was a matter of sticking together,” Cody said. “We built this together. I love those guys. I’m very loyal.”

 

ALL OUT PRIMER

The Buy-In

When & where: Saturday, August 31, Sears Centre Arena, 5333 Prairie Stone Parkway, Hoffman Estates, Ill., 60192

Time, streaming: 6 p.m. B/R Live, YouTube (free)

 

Private Party (Isiah Kassidy & Marq Quen) vs. Angelico & Jack Evans

21-woman Casino Battle Royale: Britt Baker, Nyla Rose, Allie, Awesome Kong, Brandi Rhodes, Teal Piper, Ivelisse, Jazz, Big Swole, Sadie Gibbs, Shazza McKenzie, 10 others TBD

 

Main show

When & where: Saturday, August 31, Sears Centre Arena, 5333 Prairie Stone Parkway, Hoffman Estates, Ill., 60192

Time, TV/streaming: 7 p.m. Pay-per-view, B/R Live (PPV)

 

AEW Championship (to crown first champion): Hangman Page vs. Chris Jericho

Kenny Omega vs. PAC

Cody vs. Shawn Spears (with Tully Blanchard)

AAA World Tag Team Championship (Escalera De La Muerte): Lucha Bros. (Fenix & Pentagon Jr.) (c) vs. The Young Bucks

Best Friends (Chuck Taylor & Trent Beretta) vs. The Dark Order (Evil Uno & Stu Grayson)

Darby Allin vs. Joey Janela vs. Jimmy Havoc

Riho vs. Hikaru Shida

Luchasaurus, Jungle Boy & Marko Stunt vs. SCU (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky)

 

Chris Jericho crowned AEW’s first champion at All Out

Chris Jericho crowned AEW’s first champion at All Out

Warrior Wrestling 6, AAW’s Lynam Tournament head weekend’s indy attractions

Warrior Wrestling 6, AAW’s Lynam Tournament head weekend’s indy attractions