Setting foot in the dingy ol’ Greensboro Coliseum this past Monday can only be described as a whimsical moment of clarity. At this point, most folks know that I have indeed asked for my release from World Wrestling Entertainment, but it’s paramount in my mind for fans of pro-wrestling to have some answers and not be left with questions. A many superlative can be used to describe my mentor in wrestling, but one I often forget about…is fearless. And it’s a trait wish more of had been passed down my way.
So there I was, standing in the very same locker-room Ric Flair had dressed in before changing the wrestling/PPV (closed circuit at the time) game forever and capturing the NWA Title at Starrcade 83′, “a Flair for the Gold”; it’s sad that after once again being benched off TV that my fate in said spot was instead to be relegated to watching a monitor advertising a returning star and kicking open my tumi gear to find an outfit I had long outgrown and a face-paint kit. Both HHH and Vince McMahon have given me many fun and challenging opportunities in my career, and I showed my gratitude by always pushing for the best segment I could create, the most interest I could generate. They gave me the chance to train on the job with some of the most brilliant minds in our world (gentlemen like Arn Anderson and Fit Finaly). I would do this job for free, but that didn’t stop WWE from always compensating me in a generous manner. My goal in pro-wrestling has always been to win the WWE Championship (the one accolade in the game my Father never obtained), and for a decade I tried to convince both Vince and HHH that I could be their star-player, their varsity quarterback if you will, but it seems we have reached the point where neither saw that in me. I sincerely appreciate HHH’s unflinching respect for my Father, and how he has acted as a custodian of history in honoring him since his passing. He did not owe me that same respect he gave Dream, but I thought I could earn it in time. One of the last discussions we had included him telling me that “wwe is a play, and everybody has their role and needs to act it their best”. All I can think of to say to that is, “the best actors don’t want the lesser roles”. In the past 6-months I pleaded with WWE Creative and both of my bosses to let me roll-the-dice and once again be Cody Rhodes. I had pitched to every writer on staff like a door-to-door salesman on “how” & “why” & “when”… and believe me, there are many of those who sought to help me (Brian James, Nick, Faz, J Russo, Dave K, JBL&Cole, for letting me go wild on their YouTube show and a few others I’m sure) but for all that, both “head writers” of RAW & Smackdown (one pretending to be Brian Gewirtz & the other too busy hitting on developmental divas) continued to not return my pitches or e-Mails, and in face-to-face encounters tried to big league me by pretending to be on their clearly powered-off laptops… barely willing to listen to an idea I considered beneficial to more than one talent. What’s that expression? Don’t take no for an answer… what do you do when you don’t get an answer at all? So there I was… having done everything I could possibly do for ten years to make the most out of both large opportunities and even the half-cocked ones like “paint-up like your Brother”. Chicken shit into chicken salad became my speciality; and with those worthy opportunities afforded me… I can only hope I fully executed. I’ve made the walk down the ramp at multiple WrestleManias, and I have had a WrestleMania match cancelled while I stood at the curtain moments before my music hit. I felt like I had a bag of those brass-rings and when it came time for me to cash them in, I find I can’t do so.
Like I said, Monday was whimsical… because I felt fearlessness in my blood, even if just for a fleeting moment. I realized that I don’t need to sell myself to those two writers captaining a broken unrecognizable system, matter a fact with the time I had put in and the body of work I presented it should have been the other way around. I realized that blood is thicker than paint, that I know who I am and what I’m capable of… I’m not Dusty Rhodes. I’m Cody Rhodes. I’m a pro-wrestler. I am proud of that. It’s been said never to leave money on the table, but no money is worth being less than you are. Ask my wife, I don’t even read check breakdowns… this was never about the money, this was always about the moments, and I’ll be dammed if my father’s legacy is “stardust” or a series of sizzle-reels for NXT. It’s not my job to pick up his sword. It’s my privilege. I will miss many of the soldiers in that locker-room, some who I have earned their friendship. Guys like Cesaro, Zack Ryder, Tyler Breeze, KO, Harper, Kofi, Tye, the wasteland, and the NC… keep that locker-room clean and keep having a better match than you’re supposed to, I do believe the cream rises and hard work prevails. My work just needs to be elsewhere. I want to thank both fans and critics of mine alike. There is no greater responsibility than having a fan who expects a level of entertainment from you, and there’s nothing more motivating than those who buy a ticket yet find something lacking (considering there first few CAW years of my career, I always took criticism as more of a request and I made what adjustments I could for the overall product). Again, from the BOTTOM OF MY HEART… thank you. Almost one year ago, the biggest light in my sky was ripped away from me when I lost my Father. It’s time for me to try and seek that illumination… that glow that’s still out there. This is not goodbye. There’s a whole world of film and television and the stage that I might find I have a knack for (maybe I even already got an offer). As far as the future is concerned though, I’m a wrestler. So that’s what I’ll do…wrestle.
Editors Note: Dusty is smiling somewhere after reading this. It’s a beautiful statement from one of the most underutilized talents in recent history. I’m excited to see what’s next for Cody – he deserves far better and he’ll get it. I’d like to thank him for sharing this with us. He certainly didn’t have to.
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