After several years of mid-card limbo, Cody Rhodes left the WWE last May, ending a near-decade-long run on the main roster. Floundering under the “Stardust” gimmick, a play on Rhodes’ real-life half-brother’s Goldust character, he decided to go the independent route as frustration over his on-screen usage mounted.
Rhodes left WWE as a two-time Intercontinental champion and six-time WWE Tag Team Champion (with four different partners). However, after splitting from Legacy –a three-man stable comprised of multiple-generation superstars Randy Orton, Ted Dibiase Jr., and Rhodes — he was mostly relegated to low-to-mid card duty.
During his first reign as Intercontinental champion, Rhodes not only re-introduced the classic design of the championship, he held the title for 236 days from August 9, 2011, to Wrestlemania 28 on April 1, 2012 — losing to The Big Show.
Rhodes’ Hall of Fame father, Dusty Rhodes — who passed away on June 11, 2015 — advised him to explore his options as he told Wrestledelphia Radio via Wrestling Inc).
“I know he would have supported it because he told me to ask for my release after WrestleMania 28,” Rhodes said. “I waited until WrestleMania 32 to take his advice. At [Wrestlemania] 28, I recalled particularly, he was unhappy with the direction things were going with me and Big Show, and he just thought that I was so close to the keys to the kingdom, and they were slipping away, that maybe leaving would wake them to the idea that this is somebody who wanted to captain your ship and the way you guys are treating him has pushed him out.”
37 years ago today on this date: Dusty Rhodes beat Harley Race to win the NWA world heavyweight title in Tampa, Fla. pic.twitter.com/4wVJQNTAia
— Mike Mooneyham (@ByMikeMooneyham) August 21, 2016
Following that loss, Rhodes regained the championship at the following pay-per-view, Extreme Rules, in a tables match. However, Rhodes never entered the main event scene as many predicted he would. Instead, he remained in tag team scene, forming Team Rhodes Scholars with fellow former WWE superstar Damien Sandow and the Rhodes Brothers with Goldust.
At the time of Dusty’s suggestion, Cody did not want to take his father’s words too close to heart. He was just 26-years-old at the time and despite everything that was said, he was seen a future World champion — especially considering his pedigree.
“But it seemed at the time like kind of a leopard’s play, so it just didn’t interest me. I wanted to stick it out, and I always tried to not take Pop’s advice, because he’s my dad, so the advice always came from that part of his heart, not the businessman part of his mind, but his heart, and actually at the end of my WWE career, he was right that I should have made that decision maybe a little sooner.”
Rhodes is still just 31 years of age and is poised to make an impact outside the WWE umbrella. He just made his debut for EVOLVE, ironically facing Zack Sabre Jr., a current participant in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic.
In the coming months, he has confirmed to appear for Northeast Wrestling later this week; Pro Wrestling Guerrilla’s Battle of Los Angeles (BOLA) in September; WrestlePro (vs. Pat Buck) on September 10, Xtreme Wrestling Alliance (vs. Tommaso Ciampa) on September 18; What Culture Pro Wrestling on October 6 and 8; WrestleCentre on November 10; and his most notable appearance is for Ring of Honor’s Best in the World on December 2.
9 DAYS AWAY
— Cody Rhodes (@CodyRhodes) August 24, 2016
Many doubted that Rhodes — considering his aforementioned family legacy — would leave the security of the WWE; but he is now one of the most sought-after free agents in the industry. With guys like Rhodes, Sandow, Wade Barrett, Ryback, and other mid-card mainstays out of the WWE, the independent circuit is better off than it was before.
[Image via Shamsuddin Muhammad| Wikimedia Commons| Cropped and Resized | CC BY-SA 2.0 ]