Throwback Thursday: Cody Rhodes

Whether you know him as Cody Rhodes, Cody Runnels or Stardust there is something about him that makes people watch, even if you dislike his current gimmick or mid-card status.

Runnels in 2007 during his stay in OVW

 In 2006 Cody joined WWE’s developmental program OVW. He formed a tag team with Shawn Spears and feuded with The Untouchables (Deuce & Domino) for the tag titles. The feud consisted of a back and forth battle for the titles and eventually involved the manager of the Untouchables, Cherry. Cherry would be won by Runnels and Spears but soon Spears was falling for Cherry but Cherry would turn on Spears and Runnels and rejoin the Untouchables, screwing Runnels and Spears out of the titles. The tag team wouldn’t last long as Spears was jealous of Runnels’ success in singles competition.

Runnels would win the OVW Television Championship from Justin LaRouche but would lose it to Spears before joining the main roster.

On July 2, 2007 Cody joined the main roster under the name Cody Rhodes in a segment with his father, Dusty Rhodes. While backstage he met Randy Orton who would slap Dusty (this was during his “Legend Killer gimmick” and this would enrage Cody who would come out the following week and slap Orton across the face. Cody faced Randy in his debut match and lost but put on a great show and immediately getting fans behind him.

Cody would feud with Orton for some time before rivaling Daivari, Charlie Haas, and Shelton Benjamin. Rhodes would tag with Paul London and Brian Kendrick in a six-man tag match and Rhode’s team would win that bout, standing tall. Soon though Rhodes began a rivalry with Hardcore Holly.

Rhodes, determined to earn Holly’s respect, kept challenging him despite three consecutive losses. His persistence and skill did earn him Holly’s respect and soon the two would form a tag team.

Teaming with Hardcore Holly

Rhodes and Holly tagged together, going for the tag titles as well as rivaling each other in a few more matches when their tempers flared. Holly and Rhodes would win the World Tag Team Championships. However, Rhodes would turn heel when he revealed himself to be Ted DiBiase’s secret partner, turning on Holly and ending their title reign but starting a new one with DiBiase.

After partnering up with DiBiase these two talented wrestlers came face to face with Randy Orton, Sim Snuka and Manu, a group calling themselves “The Legacy.” DiBiase, having been attacked by Orton, was out of action and Rhodes joined the group. Orton would constantly criticize the other superstars in his group and would even begin “testing” the others in the group. Within weeks Manu and Sim Snuka were kicked out of the group.

Snuka and Manu approached Cody, offering him to join their team, along with the returning Ted DiBiase, to get some revenge on Orton. Rhodes refused and DiBiase turned on Manu and Snuka, attacking them. Thus, the three-man team of Orton, Rhodes and DiBiase (the group most people remember as “The Legacy” was born.

The Legacy soon began a rivalry with the McMahon family and this would culminate with Orton winning the WWE Championship after The Legacy defeated Triple H, Batista and Shane McMahon at Backlash. This challenge by the Legacy lead Triple H to reform DX with Shawn Michaels, leading to a more entertaining and interesting rivalry.

Legacy in 2009 (from left to right); Rhodes, Randy Orton, and Ted DiBiase

All was not well in the Legacy as, when Cody tried to help Orton in a match for the WWE Championship he was caught, thus causing a DQ win and ruining Orton’s chances that night for the title. Orton lashed out, attacking his proteges. Soon, the group would dissolve totally, ending when Orton defeated both Rhodes and DiBiase in a triple threat match at Wretlemania XXVI.

“Dashing” Cody Rhodes in December 2010

As part of the 2010 WWE Supplemental Draft, Rhodes was drafted to the SmackDown brand and made his debut on April 30th. In his debut match he defeated John Morrison and the following week competed in a tournament for the WWE Intercontinental title. Rhodes would go on to mentor Husky Harris (now known as Bray Wyatt) on NXT.

Rhodes began a new gimmick, claiming to be the best-looking wrestler in WWE and demanding to be called “Dashing” Cody Rhodes. As part of this he aired brief videos giving “grooming tips” and became overly protective of his face to the point he would freak out, mid-match, if hit in the face. Rhodes would team with Drew McIntyre to win the WWE Tag Team Championships at Night of Champions.

In January 2011, Rhodes faced Rey Mysterio in a match, during which Mysterio hit Rhodes in the face with his exposed knee brace and legitimately broke Rhodes’ nose which was spun into Rhodes declaring he was no longer “dashing” and would lead to a downward spiral of sorts in which, after his return, Rhodes wore a clear protective mask over his face then regularly used his protective mask as a weapon during matches by headbutting opponents and sometimes took off the mask to use it to hit his opponents. There was also a weird gimmick of covering up fans & opponents faces with paper bags because their ugliness was offensive.

None of this weirdness though detracted from Cody’s actual skill in the ring and he went on to reform his alliance with DiBiase. On the August 9th Smackdown tapings Rhodes won the WWE Intercontinental Championship from Ezekiel Jackson, his first singles title.

Rhodes as the Intercontinental Champion in January 2012

The reformed alliance was soon over after DiBiase lost a match to Orton and Rhodes attacked DiBiase. Rhodes would feud with Orton and successfully defend his IC title and he would eventually cost Orton the World Heavyweight Championship. The two would battle out their feud in a Street Fight, with Orton victorious after breaking Rhodes’ mask. The mask gimmick was over but Cody continued to have success. Rhodes was a member of Team Barrett for a traditional Survivor Series match at Survivor Series, in which he and Wade Barrett were the only two survivors and won the match. Rhodes feuded with Booker T, briefly and then with Big Show and would lose the title to Big Show at WrestleMania XXVIII.

He chased the IC title, unsuccessfully, for some time before moving on to a new gimmick and a new tag team partner.

Rhodes then aligned himself with Damien Sandow, attacking Tag Team Champions Team Hell No (Daniel Bryan and Kane) on the September 24 Raw. The team was entered in a Tag Team Championship tournament and defeated The Usos to advance and would finally win the titles on the October 22 Raw to win the tournament and become the number one contenders to the Tag Team Championship. Team Rhodes Scholars got their title opportunity against Team Hell No on October 28 at Hell in a Cell, where they won by disqualification, thus Team Hell No retained the title.Rhodes Scholars received another shot at the WWE Tag Team Championship on the November 14 of WWE Main Event, but were defeated by Team Hell No.During the match, Rhodes suffered a concussion and a strained shoulder, resulting in him being removed from his traditional five-on-five tag team match at Survivor Series.Rhodes returned from injury sporting a mustache, where he and Sandow defeated Primo & Epico, The Prime Time Players (Darren Young and Titus O’Neil), and The Usos in a fatal four-way tag team elimination match to earn the right to face Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara in a number one contender Tables match at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs. Six days later at the pay-per-view, Team Rhodes Scholars defeated Mysterio and Sin Cara to become the number one contenders to the WWE Tag Team Championship. Team Rhodes Scholars received their title shots on the next Main Event episode, but were again defeated by Team Hell No. Being unsuccessful lead to Rhodes and Sandow mutually deciding to dissolve Team Rhodes Scholars and remain “best friends”.

On July 14 at Money in the Bank pay-per-view, Rhodes competed in the World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank ladder match, but was unsuccessful as the match was won by his tag team partner Damien Sandow after Sandow turned on Rhodes and threw him off of the ladder just as Rhodes was about to win the match and, on the following night on the July 15 episode of Raw, Rhodes attacked Sandow, turning face in the process for the first time since 2008 and began his rivalry with Sandow.

On September 2, Rhodes was punished for speaking against Triple H, his job was put on the line in a non-title match against Randy Orton. Rhodes lost the match and was “fired” while, in real life, he was married and on his honeymoon. Over the next few weeks, his brother Goldust would return and also lost to Orton with Cody’s reinstatement on the line, while his father Dusty Rhodes was knocked out by Big Show while pleading for his sons to get their jobs back. After the attack on their father the Rhodes brothers gatecrashed Raw by attacking the Shield.

In 2013, Goldust returned to WWE, teaming with his half-brother Cody

On October 6 at Battleground, Rhodes and Goldust won their jobs back when they defeated the WWE Tag Team Champions, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins in a non-title match and would go on to win the titles a week later on Raw. On October 27 at Hell in a Cell, the Rhodes brothers’ first successful title defense came with winning a triple threat match against the Usos and Rollins and Reigns. The team would defend their titles successfully until February 3rd, 2014 when Rhodes was pinned following a moonsault off the top of the cage onto Road Dogg, who was not the legal man at the time, allowing Billy Gunn to use the Fame-Ass-er and win the match for The New Age Outlaws.

The brothers went on a losing streak and at Payback, after another loss with Cody pinned, he told Goldust he felt he was holding his brother back and storming away from the ring. Cody spent weeks trying to find Goldust a “worthy” partner but with no success.

On June 16th, 2014 Cody returned to his brother’s side as Stardust, wearing elaborate face paint, a jumpsuit much like Goldust’s and portraying odd mannerisms such as hissing and talking in odd sentences.

Rhode’s current gimmick as Stardust in January 2015

He teamed with his brother to defeat Rybaxel that night, and again at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, and again a day after on Raw. On the August 18 episode of Raw, Stardust and Goldust defeated the WWE Tag Team Champions – The Usos in a non-title match. This led to a rematch on the August 25 episode of Raw, where Stardust and Goldust defeated The Usos via count-out, however, didn’t win the titles. After the match, both Stardust and Goldust turned heel and attacked The Usos. The next week, Gold and Stardust explained their actions that the fans were holding them back and that attacking the Usos put them one step closer to reaching the “Cosmic Key in the Galactic Universe” and also saying that the fans will never see Cody Rhodes ever again. At Night of Champions, Stardust and Goldust defeated the Usos to become WWE Tag Team Champions for their second reign as a team.

In early February 2015, Goldust and Stardust were defeated by The Ascension and once again began tensions with Stardust showing his frustrations at Goldust. After the match, Goldust called Stardust “Cody” and Stardust responded by telling Goldust to never refer to him by that name again. The team would dissolve quickly. with Cody lashing out at his brother and anyone who called him “Cody” instead of Stardust. Eventually Stardust and Goldust battled each other at WWE Fastlane, which Goldust won via rollup. Afterwards, Stardust attacked Goldust backstage, while exclaiming to his father that he had killed Cody Rhodes. The feud between Stardust and Goldust ended when Stardust attacked Goldust after Goldust won a match against Adam Rose while pretending to be one of Rose’s Rosebuds in a costume suit. The feud officially concluded as Stardust then became involved in the Intercontinental Championship ladder match at WrestleMania 31, competing against the current champion, Bad News Barrett, R-Truth, Dean Ambrose, Luke Harper, Dolph Ziggler, and the winner of the match, Daniel Bryan.

On the April 6 episode of Raw, Stardust answered John Cena’s United States Championship open challenge, but failed to win the title and on the April 27 episode of Raw, Stardust competed in the 2015 King of the Ring, where he was defeated by R-Truth in the first round. Rhodes appeared in a few more matches before taking a brief hiatus.

During this hiatus, on June 11th, 2015 Rhode’s father, Dusty Rhodes passed away.

Rhodes returned, still in his Stardust character persona on July 13th and would defeat Neville who he is now currently in a feud with, claiming that Neville is like a superhero and he, Stardust, the misunderstood villain simply because he is “strange.”

With Twitter battles between Rhodes (as Stardust) and Green Arrow actor Stephen Amell have added to this “super villain” persona and it is expected that this feud between superstar and celebrity will be resolved at WWE Summerslam.

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