Cody Garrett Runnels is a prime example of what is both wrong and right with professional wrestling, and proof that potential is often missed in favour of focusing on tried and tested gimmicks and money making superstars. Vince McMahon’s WWE is going through a rough time in terms of its main roster, the main reason being actual talent is squandered in favour of retreading old ground, turning genuine talent into jobbing for others, and making a mockery of wreslters that have done great work in other promotions only to come to WWE and sink into the mire of the bottom rung of “sports entertainment.”
The WWE never respected Cody, and right until the end he was constantly knocked back in one way or another. In his debut, Randy Orton slapped his father in a backstage segment, and it was the perfect metaphor for how Vince seemed to view the Rhodes legacy. He lost a lot of matches in the beginning, both to Orton and to Hardcore Holly, but as time went on, Cody reinvented himself as part of The Legacy (with Orton and Ted Dibiase Jr), the Narcissist, and as a member of Team Rhodes Scholars (with Damien Sandow). He won the Intercontinental Championship by defeating Ezekiel Jackson in 2011, and the Tag Team Championship with his half-brother Goldust in 2013, but despite the gold, he never reached the potential he was capable of, and following all of this, Cody entered the lowest point of his career.
His run with Goldust could’ve been so much better, but the two weren’t used properly. When they beat Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns to win the titles, it looked as though Cody’s luck was changing, but after losing to The New Age Outlaws which lost them the titles, they suffered back to back losses, leading Cody down the final path of his WWE career, and turning into Stardust.
Stardust was a variation of his half-brother Dustin’s character, but it always seemed forced, despite Cody’s athleticism in the ring. He feuded with Goldust, but that Wrestlemania dream match never happened. Instead, once their feud was over, Stardust joined forces with The Ascension and suffered various losses. Defeat kept following Cody in singles competition, losing to Apollo Crews and Titus O’ Neil multiple times, and finally losing to Zack Ryder on Superstars of all shows.
It was horrible to watch. Cody Rhodes could’ve been the face of WWE. He had the creativity and the ability, but he became a joke – an afterthought to the likes of John Cena and Roman Reigns. We’ll never know why Cody was so mistreated on TV, but it was a joke. Enough was enough for Cody, and he finally cut his ties with World Wrestling Entertainment. In a statement on Twitter, Cody detailed in-depth just why he wanted out. I’ll let you read the below, but it’s a direct insight into Cody Garret Runnels’ mind after constant humilation. It shows you the passion and heart of someone who wants to make the most of his wrestling career despite being stalled at every turn. But most of all it marks the end of creative control in a company that never seems to know exactly how good they have it until it’s gone.
My one&only statement on the matter. No podcasts or tell-all nonsense.
Thank you friends. pic.twitter.com/c5MNKw6spH
— Hyrule Husky (@PrinceCGR) May 22, 2016
I don’t want to bash WWE here, but we’ve seen it before. We’ve seen superstars become jobbers and we’re seeing it now (*cough* Finn Balor). They’ve given us so many joyous memories, but they can destroy careers just as easily as they can make them. This realisation by Cody marked the start of his rise to superstar status, not held back by the boundaries of such a strict company. Since leaving he has thrived on every opportunity he has been given regardless of which promotion he has worked for.
He’s had relative success in TNA Impact and NJPW, but most of all he has become the face of Ring of Honor. He goes by the name Cody, and it seems like the most basic form of his character, his personality, and a distinct departure from anything he has ever done before. Cody has already been the ROH World Champion, defeating Christopher Daniels at Best in the World 2017, and even now, despite not owning a belt, he is easily one of the best wrestlers on the promotion. At the weekend he’ll be facing Kenny Omega in the G1 Specials, and it could quite easily be the biggest match of his career. It’s the personification of success – of self-growth and confidence outside the shackles of corporate control – and it’ll be a slobberknocker. Not only will it see the fate of the Bullet Club’s leadership, but it’ll be about two faces of two incredible wrestling brands going one on one in a potential match of the year.
Despite his actual in-ring performances since leaving the WWE, he’s become the face of All In, a wrestling show put on independently in response to David Meltzer’s claim that no indie wrestling organisation can sell 10,000 tickets. Cody took this as a challenge, and with the help of The Young Bucks they managed to sell out in 30 minutes. It’ll be a union of wrestlers from various promotions such as ROH, NJPW and more, and it’ll be awesome. Cody has become bigger than he could ever have imagined, and has done so on his own.
The American Nightmare is real. It is here to stay and it is exciting. Whatever happens next for Cody it is sure to be exciting, and it is his own path that he’ll be forging. Before joining ROH it was tough for Cody, losing his father Dusty Rhodes, and being jobbed to death by Vince and the WWE, but now he is an icon, a talented and respected individual, and the manifest destiny of professional wrestling.