Cody Rhodes was born Cody Garrett Runnels in June of 1985, and he is the youngest son of one of pro wrestling’s all-time greats in Dusty Rhodes. Out of the blue, Rhodes took to Twitter a couple of weeks ago and asked for his release from the WWE. The very next day, the WWE responded and granted his release. Rhodes would make a lengthy statement on Twitter a few days after citing his displeasure with the creative process ignoring his suggestions. One message he made very clear was that he was not done with wrestling, because he’s a wrestler, and that is what he’ll do: Wrestle.
The wrestling journey for Cody Rhodes began in 2006 right as he turned 21. He began wrestling for Ohio Valley Wrestling, which was the developmental company for the WWE at the time before it went to Florida Championship Wrestling before it too would eventually evolve into NXT. He would only spend a year in developmental before being called up to the main roster of the WWE in 2007.
The WWE career of Cody Rhodes would span the course of nearly ten years, and he’d hold titles on eight different occasions. Six of those eight title runs were of the tag team variety with partners such as: Hardcore Holly, Ted DiBiase, Jr., Drew McIntyre, and Goldust. He was also a two-time WWE Intercontinental Champion to go along with being a Slammy Award winner twice as well
14. The WWE Debut: Standing Up To Randy Orton
Cody Rhodes would break into the WWE and make his television debut in July of 2007 to come to the defense of his Hall Of Fame father Dusty Rhodes from Randy Orton who was on the tail end of his run as the Legend Killer, the brash young cocky wrestler who was beating up legends of the WWE such as Mick Foley, Sgt. Slaughter, and the aforementioned Dusty Rhodes. Orton introduced himself to Cody on the night of his debut on Raw and then promptly slapped Dusty in the face, but Dusty knew better than to allow his son to let his emotions get the best of him against the Viper.
13. First Taste Of WWE Gold With Hardcore Holly
A couple of months into his WWE career, Cody Rhodes would have a set of matches against Hardcore Holly. Holly was a veteran at this point in 2007, being in the business for 20 years. In real life, he was known to work stiff in the ring, especially with rookies. They kind’ve took that into a storyline with Rhodes in the three matches they had. While Cody never won a match against Holly, he earned Holly’s respect, and they became a tag team. They won the WWE World Tag Team Championships in December of 2007 by defeating Trevor Murdoch and Lance Cade. They would hold those belts for 202 days until…
12. The Heel Turn On Hardcore Holly
In May of 2008, Ted DiBiase, Jr, the son of the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, began feuding with Cody Rhodes and Hardcore Holly after being drafted to Monday Night Raw back when there was a brand split. DiBiase would challenge Rhodes and Holly to a WWE Tag Team Championship match at Night Of Champions claiming he’d have a mystery partner. As the bell rung, there was still no partner for DiBiase, until Cody clocked Holly from behind and tagged DiBiase. Cody was the mystery partner, and they won the WWE Tag Team Championship leaving Holly out in the cold. This would mark the first time Cody would become a heel.
11. The Legacy
Late in 2008, a few weeks after Survivor Series, Randy Orton would extend an offer to Cody Rhodes to team up with him, and Ted DiBiase, Jr. would join them after his return from injury in early 2009 to form one of the bigger stables of the past decade in “The Legacy.” The common bond for Legacy was that they were multi-generational wrestlers. Rhodes and DiBiase were second generation wrestlers, while Orton was a third generation wrestler. While Legacy was highly successful, this was a time where stables were not kept together for too long in the WWE, and they would start to have internal strife in 2010.
10. The Legacy Implodes
Legacy had been together for a little over a year now, but at the 2010 Royal Rumble, the tension between Orton and the other two would start to mount. Rhodes would get Orton disqualified in his WWE Championship match at this pay per view, and that led Orton to attack the other two members of Legacy. In the weeks following, Rhodes and DiBiase would end up costing Orton in other matches on purpose this time, leading up to the WrestleMania XXVI two on one handicap match in which Orton would win.
9. NXT Coach For Husky Harris
Back when NXT was a competition for up and coming talent, there would be a current pro that would be paired up with the NXT contestant for coaching purposes. In June of 2010, Cody Rhodes would be paired up with Husky Harris. For those who have been living under a rock, Husky Harris transformed into Bray Wyatt in 2012. For this particular season of NXT, Husky Harris would finish fourth out of eight competitors with Alex Riley, Michael McGillicutty (future tag team partner with Harris, now known as Curtis Axel), and Kaval (better known as Low Ki) finishing ahead of him.
8. “Dashing” Cody Rhodes
While Cody Rhodes was the pro for Husky Harris in NXT, he underwent a transformation into a different character known as “Dashing” Cody Rhodes. The debut of this character would start with vignettes of Cody giving various grooming tips, and many speculate that this gimmick started from the fact that the Divas of the WWE had voted Cody as the best looking wrestler on the male roster. Much like The Miz did years later with his “Moneymaker”, Rhodes would be very protective of his face and threw a fit if he would ever get punched. During this run as “Dashing” Cody Rhodes, he’d become a WWE Tag Team Champion with Drew McIntyre.
7. The Man Behind The Mask
Early in 2011, Cody Rhodes was still doing the “Dashing” gimmick, but had his nose legitimately broken by Rey Mysterio‘s knee brace when Rey was attempting a 619. Rhodes would be on the shelf recovering for several weeks before coming back in late February to attack Mysterio and steal his coveted mask. This would lead to matches at WrestleMania 27 and Extreme Rules. Following this feud, he would start a crusade against the fans by having associates hand out paper bags for the crowd to put over their head because they were uglier than Rhodes with his mask. He would also use that hard plastic mask as a weapon on many occasions.
6. Team Rhodes Scholars
In the fall of 2012, Cody Rhodes would ditch the mask and align with “The Intellectual Savior Of The Masses” Damien Sandow to form “Team Rhodes Scholars”. It was definitely a great pairing of two individuals, and while they were heels, the fans loved this team as they were both talented and entertaining. They mostly feuded with Team Hell No (Kane and Daniel Bryan) where they had a total of three shots at the WWE Tag Team Championships, but lost each time to Team Hell No. They would amicably go their separate ways, but shortly after would reunite until the Money In The Bank ladder match…
5. Greed Breaks Up The Rhodes Scholars
The brand split was still in effect in 2013 when it came time for the Money In The Bank pay per view, so there were two ladder matches, one for each world title. Team Rhodes Scholars were both in the match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, along with Wade Barrett, Dean Ambrose, Fandango, Cesaro, and Jack Swagger. At the tail end of the match, it almost seemed all but a lock that Cody was going to climb the ladder and win the match, but his partner Sandow would shove him off the ladder and claim the briefcase, leading to Cody’s face turn for the first time in five years.
4. The Brotherhood Strikes Gold
The following September, Cody Rhodes continued to be a face and would stand up against The Authority, being vocal about how Triple H was running things in the WWE at the time. As punishment, Triple H would put Rhodes in a match against The Authority’s golden boy Randy Orton, and if he lost the match, he would be fired, which he was. Goldust would try to get Triple H to change his mind, and eventually they got a tag match against The Shield where Cody would be reinstated if they won. They would win that match and then defeat The Shield for the WWE Tag Team Championships the next match with the help of the Big Show, marking the first time the brothers held gold together as a tag team.
3. The Birth Of Stardust
The Brotherhood of Cody Rhodes and Goldust was still together in the summer of 2014, but they were in the midst of a terrible losing streak. Cody would try to find partners for Goldust, but none of them were successful either, which led Cody to debut his Stardust character. The name Stardust was actually used by his father Dusty Rhodes in his AWA days. It was basically similar to the Goldust character, but Cody did a great job of making it his own. As Stardust, he would capture the WWE Tag Team Champions with Goldust in the fall of 2014.
2. The Feud With Stephen Amell
Once Stardust turned heel on Goldust in the early part of 2015, he would pretty much be stuck in midcard hell where he’d get a midcard title shot here and there, but was never really pushed with any seriousness. When he would start to feud with Neville, they played it off as a comic book hero versus villain type of scenario, which then fit perfectly into having Stardust feud with huge WWE fan Stephen Amell who plays the DC Comics superhero, Green Arrow. Amell would team with Neville and King Barrett would team with Stardust in a tag match at SummerSlam 2015. As far as celebrities go, Amell performed very well, and it was a great story line, probably the best thing they did with Stardust.
1. What Could Have Been
As mentioned in the previous entry, it was pretty clear that there was no serious backing for Stardust as he was (to quote the title of my podcast) Lost In The Midcard. Many fans thought a return to Cody Rhodes was coming, and in March 2016, Cody posted this picture on his real-life account (he also had a @CodyRhodes account too). It almost looked like an Evolution-type of stable with Tyler Breeze and Tye Dillinger. It appears that Cody pitched this on deaf ears if you read his statement after his release from the WWE, and that is a bummer as this could have had a lot of promise.
Though Cody is gone from the WWE, he is definitely not gone from pro wrestling, as he posted this picture of a checklist of things he wants to accomplish after his no-compete date of August 19, 2016.