What a difference six years makes. Just over half a decade ago, Dusty Rhodes’ skinny, generic looking son was introduced to the WWE Universe when he slapped the taste out of Randy Orton’s mouth in retaliation for Orton slapping Dusty the week prior. Back then, not many people thought that Cody had “it”. Most said he was missing that something that would make him somebody special.
Cody would go on to team with Hardcore Holly, participate in one of the most telegraphed heel turns of the decade, turning on Holly and teaming with a debuting Ted DiBiase, align himself with Orton as part of Legacy, become Dashing then Demented, and is now one of the most recognizable faces in the WWE. He developed a character that evolved and grew as time progressed; he improved his perceived weaknesses and is now on the cusp of becoming a perennial Main Eventer.
This week’s edition of A Matter of Character will analyze the character of second-generation superstar Cody Rhodes. I will highlight his many strengths, and point out any weaknesses I perceive in his character. Following my analysis, I will suggest any ways to improve or help the character progress in the future. Let’s Do This!
In the six years since his debut on WWE Television, the WWE Universe has witnessed Cody Rhodes’ physical transformation from the skinny kid with the generic look, to the talented superstar with arguably the best physique in the entire WWE. We watched this raw, 20-year-old talent grow and mature into his 26-year-old “man” body. Furthermore, instead of being the most generic looking superstar on the roster, Cody now has his own distinct look and is a very recognizable face on the WWE landscape.
Cody has grown much more than aesthetically in the last six years, as he has also become an accomplished in-ring competitor, having taken part in entertaining matches with superstars like Rey Mysterio and Randy Orton. While he has yet to have his career defining in-ring performance, and may not possess the in-ring acumen of superstars like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and Chris Jericho, he has proven that he is more than capable of holding his own in the squared circle, and that it’s only a matter of time before he breaks through that glass ceiling.
Over the last two years or so, Cody’s character has developed and evolved more so than any character in the WWE within that period of time. Upon the dissolving of Legacy in 2010, Cody became “Dashing” Cody Rhodes, the epitome of the Capitol Vice of Pride. He was cocky and condescending, and spent nearly every waking moment consumed with being better and looking better than anyone else. His subsequent feud with Rey Mysterio changed him, and he began to exemplify the Cardinal Sin known as Wrath. He was angry, violent, and contemptuous. Finally, Cody would transform into the man he is today after Randy Orton “freed” him of his protective mask that bound him. He emerged from that feud with his confidence at an all time high, more arrogant, brash, and focused than ever.
Cody’s character, much like every character in a narrative should do, has changed as he has experienced new things. He learns from his mistakes, his decisions and the events that unfold around him effect his view of the world and himself. In that regard, Cody Rhodes is miles ahead of anyone else in the WWE, and may be the reason why despite not being in the most high profile feuds, Cody’s character draws peoples’ interest.
Words and Actions
Cody has developed into quite the talker. I feel like I’m harping on development, but it’s what Cody has done during his career better than anyone else in recent memory. There are guys that can go years and years and never get better at delivering promos, but Cody has seemingly put in the time and effort to improve every facet of his game. Cutting promos at a point in Cody’s career was his weakest attribute, and now six years later, he has developed into one of the better promo men in the entire Company. His transformation and dedication to improvement is nothing short of remarkable.
Cody’s tactics/approach within his feuds are that of most arrogant heels, where he attempts to throw his opponent off their game by attacking them both physically and mentally, hopefully angering them to a point where they can’t think straight, or demolishing their confidence before the confrontation. Cody has proven to be somewhat clever, but his tactics are more geared toward escaping feuds with a win, than truly conquering his opponent, and proving himself to be the greater competitor.
Cody’s motivation, much like everything Cody Rhodes does or is inclined to do has something to do with his past, because Cody or someone on WWE Creative understands that one’s past directly influences their present and their future. Cody came into the WWE with the initial motivation of standing up for his father against Randy Orton, and defending the Rhode’s family name. Joining Legacy shifted his motivation living up to and in many regards exploiting his family name for to gain success. Now I believe his underlying motivation is to transcend the Rhodes family name. He seems hell bent on ignoring his heritage, and accomplishing more than anyone in his family ever has.
There is nothing I would change about Cody’s motivation. It makes sense, it’s compelling, and it lends itself to creating conflict. His motivation makes him an active character in the WWE’s narrative, meaning that he goes looking to accomplish his goals and often initiates and instigates rivalries. There is really nothing more anyone or I could want his motivation to accomplish.
Internally, the conflict is simple, Cody wants to be his own man and transcend his name, something that for all intents and purposes can’t be done. He can certainly accomplish more than Dusty or Dustin, but at the end of the day he is a member of the Rhodes family, and all his accomplishments are and will be remembered alongside his father and half-brother’s accomplishments. He is a member of the Rhodes family, and nothing will change that, and there in lies the conflict. His greatest goal, what motivates him above all else, is entirely unattainable, and we are watching and waiting for him to discover this for himself. Makes for some compelling television in my humble opinion.
Cody is on the cusp of breaking through the glass ceiling and becoming a permanent fixture in the Main Event picture in the WWE. He is right where Edge was before he won his first Money In The Bank, and just needs someone to put him over, to validate his character’s worthiness to the WWE Universe. Unfortunately, there aren’t any guys like the ones who put Edge’s character over huge (Michaels, Flair, Foley), people with credibility and a willingness to give the guy the boost he needs to get into the main event scene. To this point in his career, guys like Orton, Mysterio, and Big Show have merely given Cody a bit of a rub, but none of them have come close to putting him over. That being said there is a way that over the next year or so, you could raise Cody to the World Championship picture, and finally have him break through that glass ceiling.
As I mentioned earlier, Cody’s game plan during the majority of his rivalries seems to be to escape rather than to conquer. Even when he did want to maim and embarrass his opponent (Mysterio and Orton feuds), he fell short and for all intents and purposes, was conquered himself. In my opinion, Cody has a lot of unfinished business.
I’d have Cody lose the Intercontinental Championship by the end of this summer and have him challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship in September at Night of Champions, in a losing effort. He’d challenge for the title again and lose at the following PPV, Hell in a Cell, and the following night would forfeit a shot at becoming the #1 Contender.
Cody would explain that at Hell in a Cell, he realized something. In order to win the greatest prize in the WWE, he needs to be unburdened. He needs to cleanse himself of every misstep he’s made in his career; he must experience catharsis and unburden himself before he can capture the World Heavyweight Championship. He would target three men, finally conquering demons from his past. First Big Show, then Mysterio, and finally the man that has haunted him since his debut in the WWE, the man he has never been able to overcome, but must before he can take his place atop the WWE, Randy Orton.
I’d have Cody be in must win matches at the next three PPVs against each man he has "unfinished business" with, and on this "Cody Rhodes Catharsis Tour", Mysterio, Big Show and Orton, would put Cody over. Cody will not simply escape with a fluke victory that he will give back to them the next week on TV; he will truly conquer them in inspired, gutsy performances that get people to take notice and believe that Cody is “For Real”, and I’d expect the match against Orton (the final match of the tour), to be Cody’s career defining in-ring performance. The performance that signifies his arrival in the upper echelon of the WWE.
There you have it, but what do you think? Is Cody your favorite character on the WWE Roster? Would you like to see other characters and superstars develop over time the way that he has? What do you think would help Cody break through that glass ceiling and into the Main Event picture?
Until next time folks, I’m Matty J. Douglas saying I’m excited as hell for The Avengers! Anyone living in the Toronto area, maybe I’ll see you at midnight this Thursday. Have a great week everybody!