A couple of years ago, I took my son to his first ever night of pro wrestling matches. It was right before the pandemic hit in full, I want to say perhaps November of 2019. RD Jr. has never been a huge fan. While sometimes a high flying acrobatic match or goofball wrestler might catch his attention, more often than not he’ll simply just hang out with me while a show is on, popping his head up randomly but paying far more attention to his cell phone or Switch.
But I thought maybe, just maybe, going to a live event would trigger something inside him and make him a bigger fan. So we went to an AEW Dynamite taping and…he thought it was well, I guess “ok” would be the best term for it. That’s kinda him though, very even keeled, with nothing much outside of Pokemon or Dungeons & Dragons driving him into hyper fandom. Being his father, I am totally cool with that – everyone needs to live their own lives, loving what they love. If it’s not what drove his old man into the loon he is today, more power to him honestly.
As the live Dynamite concluded, we made the decision to head out. We knew there were additional matches to be taped for Dark (this was pre-Rampage), but it was a Wednesday night and he had to get up early the next day for school so we got our coats on and started packing up our stuff. While we were doing so, Cody Rhodes’ theme music hit and the crowd erupted into applause. It was pretty customary around this time as I recall for Cody to do a promo after the main show and thank the fans for supporting the company, while also telling everyone there were more matches still to come. I thought nothing of it as we scooted for the exit.
As we were leaving, a fan grabbed me by the arm and shot me a look of utter disbelief. “Dude!” he screamed in my face, “it’s Cody!” I said something to the effect of, “Yeah, that’s cool” and kept moving. At this point he yanked on my jacket even harder, and exclaimed, “IT IS CODY!!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING LEAVING???” I shrugged, mumbled something about “school night”, and kept going.
I will never forget that interaction. Because it says a lot about the connection Cody has with his fans.
It’s commendable, it really is. Especially when you consider that just a few years earlier, he was mired in the WWE mid cards, doing his best to get noticed and elevate himself. At this point he was known to fans as Stardust, a face painted character vaguely in the realm of his older brother Dustin’s Goldust persona.
Even then, you could tell this guy was giving everything he had to the character in an attempt to make it work. He turned Stardust into something resembling a comic book super villain, channeling the likes of the legendary Riddler himself, Frank Gorshin, to try to make Stardust stand out.
To a degree, it worked.
WWE was able to arrange a feud between Stardust and Stephen Amell of the television show Arrow. Now THIS I was totally onboard for – I was a big Green Arrow fan growing up and found the show to also be a pretty interesting take on DC’s bow wielding crime fighter. While I suspected a match between the two would be something of a disaster, the tag match, which also featured Neville (Pac) and Wade Barrett turned out way better than expectations.
What’s even more incredible is that just weeks before all this started to play out, Cody had what may be the single stupidest match of his career. In fact, it may have been the dumbest bout of the entire year, and honestly, one of the silliest I’ve ever witnessed. He would lock horns with this man on the May 4 episode of Raw:
Yep, good ol’ R-Truth.
As I write this, that image was from nearly seven years ago. Should note I also watched him back in TNA, which would have been like ten years before THAT. He looks exactly the same. Does this guy EVER age?
Seemingly to counter balance his fountain of youth, though, the poor guy has been stuck with the same gimmick for seemingly forever: he’s a moron. And during this era, he was a moron absolutely petrified of spiders. You’ll want to keep that in mind for our hilarious conclusion!
Stardust and Truth had battled a few weeks prior in a King of the Ring qualifier, an encounter in which Truth had picked up the duke. Eager to even the score, the villanious Stardust plotted a fiendish scheme…
Is this where I say he was really more of a Wish version of Frank Gorshin?
Because God bless him, but that promo sucked.
But Stardust had a plan, you see, to exact his revenge, a plot wherein he would use a mysterious bag to assist him in this bout. As the announcers questioned what could be in the bag, even they sounded bored.
When you have Michael Cole and JBL sounding like they are ready to nod off, good times ain’t ahead.
So we get a see saw match up, back and forth. The action itself was pedestrian but by no means bad. I mean, both guys are of course seasoned professionals.
But all throughout the match, Truth just kept looking at the bag.
What, pray tell, could be inside that bag?
What could it be that would possibly be leading his doom?
Summoning up the courage of, uh, really courageous dudes I suppose, Truth ventured over and grabbed the little sack, opening it up to reveal…
These toy arachnids flew up in his face as he fell backwards into every cheap finish rollup you ever did see.
Horrified, he took the loss and ran up the ramp, as Michael Cole called the action as best he could.
Stardust was thrilled, and laid on the mat marveling that his evil plot had come to fruition, gazing lovingly at his plastic tarantula friends.
And the crowd went mild.
I do my best here at WrestleCrap.com to keep content evergreen – that meaning, it is not time-sensitive and you can read it at anytime and just enjoy it for what it is, whenever you may be finding it.
Obviously, that is not the case here. This week, the news broke that Cody and wife Brandi were leaving AEW, presumably heading back to their old stomping grounds in WWE. For many fans, it came as a complete shock – after all, why would one of the founding members of the first real competitor to Vince McMahon give it all up and head back? Didn’t he remember the idiocy from when he was there the last time? Could he have forgotten matches in which plastic spiders led to the finish?
Of course he hasn’t.
And I think that may be one of the driving factors to him returning to the world’s largest pro wrestling company.
For the last six years, Cody Rhodes has gone out into the world to prove people wrong. He knew he languished in stupid matches with plastic spiders, he realized he struggled to get pay-per view matches. But he didn’t quit. He just kept trying.
He wanted to prove people who pegged him as a mid carder that he was far more than that. He wanted to prove to the world he didn’t need Vince McMahon to make him a bonafide name in the business. He wanted to show the world that he had everything it took to be one of the biggest stars in the entire wrestling world.
And he did. He created a connection with his fans that is pretty incredible. Every once in a while, my shoulder still reminds me of his rabid fanbase.
But I think in the back of his mind, he had to be thinking what nearly every pro wrestler of the past thirty-five years wanted to know: can I main event a WrestleMania?
For all the success AEW has achieved (and in the interest of full disclosure, it is far and away my favorite current wrestling promotion), they are still second to Vince McMahon’s empire in the eyes of the mainstream world. Your average Joe doesn’t know what All Out is…but they know the word WrestleMania. To a guy like Cody, that has to be something that drives him. It has to be. And while I have no real inside information as to what has happened there, common sense tells you the desire to be on the biggest stage has to be coursing through his veins.
I’ve never been the biggest Cody fan, but I wish him luck. The wrestling business is better when there are two competitors doing everything in their power to put on a better show than the other guys. There will always be underhanded tactics, and there will always be tribalism that leads to massive head scratching, but the more cross-pollination that happens in a situation like this the better.
In many ways, Cody is opening doors once again.
And we, the wrestling fans, be those that favor AEW or those that live and die for WWE, will win.
Having said all that, go on down to the comments below and blast me for being on Tony Khan’s payroll as y’all like to do.
After all, his Brinks truck should be making its weekly visit to WrestleCrap HQ any minute.
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