All Cody Rhodes’ life, he’s been told that he has big shoes to fill. After all, his father is ‘The American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes, a three-time former National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) world champion and legendary wrestling star who packed arenas all over the world for decades.
It doesn’t help matters that Cody’s older half-brother Dustin Rhodes made a name for himself, first as ‘The Natural’ Dustin Rhodes and later in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE, formerly World Wrestling Federation) as Goldust.
Young Cody Rhodes was destined to become a professional wrestler. Now, he’s working on cementing his legacy.
A successful high school wrestler before entering the circus-type world of professional wrestling, Rhodes, 24, is now a WWE superstar for the company’s Raw brand, which makes its first appearance in over five years at the Moncton Coliseum tomorrow at 1 p.m.
Rhodes, along with his tag-team partner Ted Dibiase Jr., the son of another legend, ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted Dibiase, are part of a stable of second- and third-generation wrestlers known as The Legacy that also includes former WWE champion Randy Orton.
He still talks to his father daily about the wrestling business, and older brother Dustin, who works for WWE’s Extreme Championship Wrestling brand, and shares stories with his sibling about his own past matches.
But today, Rhodes is focused on becoming better than his father and brother ever were, he says.
Along with Dibiase and Orton, Legacy is a ‘heel’ group, wrestling opposite heroes like John Cena and Degeneration X, the tag team of Triple H and Shawn Michaels.
Despite playing a bad guy on television, Rhodes is pleasant and laid-back on the phone, chatting about being the son of a legend and working with some of today’s top wrestling stars.
He says he enjoys playing a bad guy in the world of wrestling, and admits he and his cohorts aren’t too far off from what they are like outside the ring.
“I like what Ted and Randy and myself do because it’s not far off from who you’ll really meet and who we really are,” he says. “Randy Orton is very much, minus some twitches and snake-like movements, he’s very much who he is in the ring.
“And Ted and myself, I’m not going to say we’re total jerks or anything, but I can say this: being a second- or third-generation (wrestler) who is told on a regular basis how great your father was or how difficult it might be to follow them up or what big shoes they are to fill… When you’re told that on a regular basis, you kind of garner a little bit of an edge. We certainly don’t mind carrying that on our shoulders.”
Lately, Rhodes and Dibiase have been proving just how good they are. This past weekend, Legacy’s feud with Degeneration-X heated up as they pounded each other in a submissions-count-anywhere match that Rhodes and Dibiase went on to win in one of the main events of WWE’s Breaking Point pay-per-view.
The feud continued on Monday Night Raw (The Score, 10 p.m. every Monday) when a singles match between Dibiase (sporting a few lumps from the night before) and Michaels erupted into a brawl between all four stars.
It was announced Monday that the two teams would meet once again at the WWE’s next pay-per-view, Hell in a Cell on Oct. 4, in one of the cell matches where the ring is surrounded by a steel cage with a roof.
The series of matches have been a dream come true for Rhodes and Dibiase, two young wrestlers on their way up the ladder of success and bent on proving they’re worth their weight.
Triple H and Shawn Michaels are legends in the business, each with many years of headlining the biggest of wrestling events, a level Rhodes one day hopes to reach.
“You have to tell yourself that you’re not so young,” Rhodes says of the pressures of working with veterans. “Me and Ted are certainly freshmen in terms of our status with World Wrestling Entertainment. But, the thing is, we’ve also been granted the opportunity and we’ve earned the opportunity to work with guys like Triple H and Shawn Michaels. So you have to tell yourself you’re worth your weight and … you can’t get starstruck.
“Shawn Michaels was my favourite professional wrestler to ever live. And it’s amazing to me that, you know, I’ve watched the Summerslam match that we had, I want to say, 50 times now. And when I have moments to myself, I can certainly be star-struck. But when I’m standing right next to him, I’m a competitor in a competitive industry and we’re helping each other. Really, there’s very few words that describe the experience.”
Working with veterans of the business provides a unique learning opportunity for Rhodes, Dibiase and other young wrestlers. Rhodes knows this, saying he watches the veterans from a distance to see how they handle themselves and keep themselves in shape despite many years of bumps and bruises.
Rhodes says he is full of respect for Triple H and Michaels but, at the same time, he admits he wants to elbow his way into the top of the cards, pushing some veterans out of the way on his way up.
“I can recall in my very first months in the WWE, Shawn Michaels telling me that when he was a young talent … he wanted guys like Hulk Hogan and guys like Randy Savage and even guys like Ric Flair, he wanted them out. He wanted to be where they’re at. Unless you take that edge, it’s difficult. You’re not going to just wish your way into the main event.”
Rhodes called the Times & Transcript during a rare day off in Las Vegas last week, prior to the Breaking Point event. Days off for WWE stars with no show, appearances or travelling don’t happen often, so Rhodes was taking advantage of it by relaxing for the day.
“No complaints, but you kind of just move very quickly,” he says of the WWE lifestyle. “You get in the habit of a lot of sleeping on planes, counting that into your regular sleep schedule, training God knows, all over the place. You can do it pretty efficiently.
“I’m 24 years old and there’s a lot temptations out there and a lot of stresses of being on the road with the continued live events and TVs. The deal is, you’ve got to have your last show be just as good as your first show and you’ve got to be just as good on TV.
“And you know, if you’re motivated by the potential of the job and of being on television and of being in World Wrestling Entertainment, it’s very easy. It just kind of depends on whether you love your job or not.”
This weekend is a particularly tough one for the guys and gals of World Wrestling Entertainment’s Raw brand. Tonight they perform at Harbour Station in Saint John. Tomorrow afternoon, they’re in Moncton and tomorrow night, they appear at the Halifax Metro Centre.
Saturday is an example of what wrestlers call a “double shot,” when they have two shows in one day.
“Those can be tough, but those can actually be fun too,” Rhodes says. “It really just depends on the attitude you take toward it. It’s kind of cool to have that rock star feeling from up early to one show, a brief intermission for yourself, a break, and then moving right on to the next show. It’s kind of cool.”