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Looking at Cody Rhodes’ release



This past weekend, Cody Rhodes announced on Twitter that he requested his release from the WWE after a decade under contract with the company. The following day, it was announced that the company had granted it. Cody explained his reasoning, saying that his pitches to progress his career were ignored by the head writers, and to summarize his lengthy post, he essentially didn’t see himself getting the chance to be a top level star in the promotion. In some ways, this turn of events is unexpected and in others, it’s completely reasonable. Much like his career path in the WWE, Cody Rhodes’ exit for the organization is a mixed bag of positives and negatives.

An accomplished amateur wrestler before his time in the pro ranks, Cody is a second generation star, the son of “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. Similar to his dad, Cody has unique mic skills that worked well when he was given the chance to utilize them, and he was a natural when he transitioned from the amateur ranks to sports entertainment. After he started training in Ohio Valley Wrestling in 2006, he debuted on WWE TV a little more than a year later and looked to be far more experienced than he actually was at the time.

In the first major angle he was booked for, Cody was aligned with Ted Dibiase Jr. and leader Randy Orton to form “Legacy” in 2009. In theory, this would’ve been a suitable way to help elevate both of the younger stars as being associated with Orton, but they were portrayed as merely lackeys during the Triple H/Orton feud that led to one of the worst WrestleMania main events in history. The leader’s storyline didn’t get over and as a result, neither did the stable. After the lackluster WM 25 main event, Orton was booked in the second match on the card the following year, defeating Rhodes and Dibiase. Basically, the year was wasted and the newer talent did the job in a mostly meaningless match so in retrospect, Cody could’ve been booked better at the start of his WWE career. It’s ironic that both Rhodes and Dibiase were thought to have an extremely bright future at one point, but for whatever reason, that wasn’t the case. Eventually, “Dashing” Cody began on Smackdown and the character allowed him to develop his own persona. It was an entertaining gimmick and he also continued to progress in the ring. During his time as Dashing, he had the chance to work extensively with Rey Mysterio, who can help make opponents look good in the ring, and he also had a few runs as IC champion, further establishing him as a credible star.

In 2012, Rhodes formed a team with another underutilized star, Damien Sandow, and the Rhodes Scholars were an entertaining pair despite being thrown together because they weren’t booked for anything else. In 2013, Cody was booked in the MITB match and it was an opportunity for him move further up the card, potentially cashing in for a title shot. But, even at the arguable peak of his WWE career, Rhodes was essentially just used to take the bumps in the match. The next major angle for him was when Goldust returned to the company and it was yet another missed opportunity to propel him to a higher profile spot. The Dusty/Goldust involvement could’ve been used to highlight Cody, but it didn’t happen.

Instead, Stardust was created and it was useful for the particular angle with Goldust. The tag team run and then the heel turn as the character made sense, but for the past year an a half, the gimmick was useless. If anything, Rhodes continuing to be saddled with the “rip off” character only hindered his career because without Goldust involved, the Stardust character was illogical. According to his explanation, Cody tried to suggest a return to his original persona, but those requests were ignored. Another aspect of this whole situation is that since Dusty passed, and his status within the organization was stalled, Cody might have seen this as an opportunity to pursue a different direction in his career. There’s also a point that you can say Cody put ten years into the WWE system and regardless of the reasons, his career plateaued so other than a paycheck, what else could he really accomplish there? As mentioned, the argument could be made that there was only a brief time when Rhodes was actually booked in a spot where he could make the climb up the ladder and even when he was given the chance to establish himself, he wasn’t get the chance to run with it. That being said, Cody is an extremely versatile performer and he made the best out of whatever he was booked for, even if it led to his career becoming stagnant. Basically, the majority of Rhodes’ run in the company was wasted time and wasted potential, considering he has all the skills to be a legitimate star for them.

It’s extremely disappointing to see another talented competitor leave the promotion after being underutilized and sometimes you have to wonder, how did the WWE not see the money those that left could’ve drawn? Maybe the top-tier spots in modern day WWE are reserved for when they find the “next John Cena,” but if the Roman Reigns experiment proves anything, it’s that there’s only one Cena and you can’t expect every potential top star to fit that mold. As for Cody, anything can happen in the wrestling business, but it’s doubtful that he will return to the company in the future and with the lack of major options in the United States, he might conclude his wrestling career. Granted, Rhodes mentioned in his online explanation that he would continue wrestling, but after a decade as a sport entertainer for the biggest company in the world, would he really want to work the independent scene? At 30, Rhodes is still young enough to fully pursue another career path and he has a background in acting so that might be the next venture for him. Obviously, Rhodes’ online post is his side of the story, but assuming it’s accurate, and there’s no reason not to think it is, it speaks volumes about the WWE system if a few writers can decide the value of performers for the company. Considering how talented he is, I would guess that Cody Rhodes will be successful in the next stage of his career, but he definitely deserved better in the WWE.

-Jim LaMotta


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