Rhodes Less Traveled: Cody At WrestleMania

Welcome to Last Word on Mania month at Last Word on Sports! All month long we will be doing articles to build up for Wrestlemania 31 on March 29, 2015. Be sure to read everything this month by clicking this link. Enjoy!

On April 3, 2011 Cody Rhodes walked out of the Georgia Dome and out of WrestleMania XXVII with the fans chanting his name. That was no easy task given that his opponent for the night was perennial fan favourite Rey Mysterio. Rhodes did have a home state advantage being from Georgia himself, but the buzz after this match had Cody poised to be one of the next guys to break through the glass ceiling. That, however, has not come to pass.

After their WrestleMania XXVII match the feud continued with Mysterio winning the blow off at Extreme Rules. This freed Rhodes up to pursue other feuds and shortly after, led him to his first singles title within the company: the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Cody lobbied within the company to bring back the classic look of the title, and many believe he is responsible for bringing some importance and prestige back to the Intercontinental Championship.  However, his 233 day reign was cut short by the time WrestleMania rolled around again.

WrestleMania XXVIII originated from Miami on April 1, 2012 and it would be the place where Cody would fall to a giant. For weeks Rhodes had been belittling The Big Show, reminding him and the fans that Show has often had poor outings on the grandest stage of them all. The feud led to the match at WrestleMania which was pretty predictable as it was. I think very few fans were expecting Cody Rhodes to walk out with the gold still around his waist. Predictability isn’t always a bad thing if there is the proper talent to back it up, but sometimes there is only so much one can do against a 400 lb opponent.

The WrestleMania XXVIII match itself wasn’t terrible, but it was certainly not a show stealer either. That isn’t meant to be a slight on either man though as I feel Cody is one of the most underrated wrestlers on the WWE roster right now, and Big Show has proven in the past that he can have good matches, but they are often against an opponent who can match him, or at least come close, in strength. So the match itself was mediocre, with the payoff being that Big Show finally got his WrestleMania moment. A moment that has probably been forgotten by many since Rhodes regained the championship less than a month later.

Throughout the year Rhodes would continue various singles feuds, dropping the Intercontinental title to Christian and later vowing to unmask Sin Cara, not the hot feuds one would have expected coming out of his WrestleMania match with Rey Mysterio just over a year prior. That’s when Cody went back to what had been a comfortable fit for him, tag team wrestling.

Cody first came on the scene teaming with Hardcore Holly, and transitioning to Legacy with Ted Dibiase, and for a short time teamed with Drew McIntyre. In fact, he had achieved tag team gold with all three of those tag team partners so after the embarrassment of his loss to Big Show, maybe it was time to go back to the tag team well. Enter Damien Sandow.

The combination of Rhodes Scholars was an interesting one. Cody had chemistry with Damien and they proved to be a good team, although Damien is the only long term tag team partner that Cody has not won the Tag Team Championships with. That in itself might be disheartening, but it was through this tag team partnership that Cody was hit with his biggest WrestleMania disappointment.

WrestleMania 29 was set to have an 8 person mixed tag team match pitting Rhodes Scholars and The Bella Twins against Tons of Funk and the Funkadactyls. Certainly not the highest point on the card, but it was a WrestleMania match nonetheless. However, as can often happen with live television, some segments and matches went long, and due to time constraints the mixed tag match was cut from the card and moved to the following night on Monday Night Raw. That match wasn’t the first match cut from a WWE pay-per-view and by no means will it ever be the last, but at least for Cody Rhodes it was heartbreaking. He has even gone on record as saying that the match, “didn’t belong on WrestleMania, but I did.”

Cody would go on to prove that point over the following year, and just as the saying goes, “it’s always darkest before the dawn”. Rhodes briefly feuded with his former Rhodes Scholars tag partner after parting ways at Money In The Bank in July 2013. A couple months later the grandson of a plumber made the mistake of speaking out against The Authority and was placed into a match against Randy Orton with his job on the line. In this single match Cody Rhodes proved why he deserved to be on WrestleMania, and much like his match with Rey Mysterio at WrestleMania XXVII, the fans were chanting his name. He fought with heart and passion, and it wouldn’t be the last time people were talking about Cody Rhodes having the match of the night during 2013.

Cody’s brother, Dustin, better known to most as Goldust was brought in and it wasn’t long before these half-brothers were teaming up, beating the seemingly unstoppable Shield to get their jobs back, and then again to dethrone the Hounds of Justice of their tag team championships. For months this Brotherhood were having consistently fantastic matches night after night. Cody Rhodes, along with his brother Goldust, was having the run of his career and as WrestleMania XXX drew closer, speculation began over who the Rhodes brothers would face at the show of shows.

Many fans, myself included, were expecting to see the Rhodes brothers face off in a one on one match that never came to be. It was a match that both men expressed interest in on an episode of WWE’s 30 Years of WrestleMania podcast, but still it would not happen. Fans of the Brotherhood wouldn’t even get to see them in tag team action, something that they had proven throughout the year to excel at, being that they were one of the teams responsible for the 2013/2014 tag team renaissance. Instead, both Goldust and Cody Rhodes were involved in the inaugural Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal. It was a vast improvement from the previous year since Cody was actually on the WrestleMania card, he just had to share the match with 30 other wrestlers. Rhodes made it to the final 8 before getting ousted by Alberto Del Rio; which isn’t a bad performance, but still not up to the calibre of his match against Rey Mysterio.

The last year has seen much of the same, with Cody being heavily involved in the tag team ranks with his brother Goldust. However, after a bit of a rocky period for their team, Cody emerged with a new persona as Stardust and he and Goldust continued their winning ways, regaining the Tag Team Championship.

Heading toward WrestleMania 31, fans were once again looking forward to a confrontation between the Rhodes brothers on the WrestleMania stage, but for the second year in a row the fans, and Cody and Goldust themselves, have been disappointed. Although their participation has yet to be officially announced, it is strongly looking like Stardust and Goldust will be involved in another multi-person match, that of the Intercontinental Title Ladder Match. While it is a step up from the battle royal of WrestleMania XXX it may still be difficult for Cody to properly showcase what he can do, as WWE likes to load their WrestleMania ladder matches with upwards of 8 – 10 participants.

While I was one of many fans who cast Cody Rhodes off as the weak link of Legacy five years ago, it didn’t take long for him to win me over. Rhodes dedication and commitment to a gimmick is something that isn’t seen as often as you’d think. He took two odd, quirky gimmicks, that of the “Grotesque” Cody Rhodes, and more recently as Stardust, and made them work, made them compelling. He is a talent who can have a good match with just about anyone, or at least a decent one with Big Show, but that may be his downfall. Looking at Cody Rhodes WrestleMania past, is he seen as a great worker, or as a good hand? More importantly, is Cody Rhodes WrestleMania future written in the stars, or is it only smoke and mirrors?

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