With Dusty Rhodes now having passed on, his legacy in the wrestling business lives on through all the young wrestlers he taught, who are now in NXT and the main roster. However his legacy may best be lived through his son who has been with the company a long time, yet has never quite been able to break through the glass ceiling, flirting with the main event scene but never reaching the summit.
Cody Rhodes made his WWE debut at the age of 22 and is now pushing 30. That's a long time to have been with the same company and not reach the top. He began his career by teaming with Hardcore Holly, but eventually turned heel by joining Randy Orton and forming Legacy along with Ted DiBiase (Jr.). Many overlooked Cody, pointing to DiBiase as the future star of the group. They were dead wrong, as following the group's split, Rhodes shined by first undergoing a gimmick change to "Dashing" Cody Rhodes. From there, he adopted the gimmick of a dark, sinister Rhodes after his face was "deformed" by Rey Mysterio.
Rhodes flourished under that gimmick as well, which led to him winning the Intercontinental title in August of 2011, his first singles title. He would hold that title for over nearly eight months, bringing back the old IC belt design in the process. He would go on to lose the title to Big Show at WrestleMania XXVIII. From there, Rhodes drifted into the lower midcard.
He got a resurgence of sorts as part of a tag team with Damien Sandow, forming Team Rhodes Scholars. At Money in the Bank 2013, a feud sparked between Sandow and Rhodes, after Sandow turned on his best friend by throwing him off the ladder when Rhodes was going to win it. Rhodes would come out as the face in that feud, defeating Sandow on multiple occasions, but they weren't meaningful wins, as the briefcase was never on the line.
Rhodes feuded with The Authority from there. After speaking out against Triple H, he was forced to put his job on the line in a match with Randy Orton, which he lost. After Goldust failed to win his brother's job back, the brothers teamed up to take on the undefeated team of The Shield at Hell in a Cell. The brothers won, getting their jobs back, and won the tag titles when they defeated The Shield again on Raw. After losing the titles to the New Age Outlaws. Again, Cody got a taste of a push, but it was quickly taken away.
After the brothers amicably disbanded for a while, Cody debuted his Stardust gimmick in June last year. (Fun fact, Stardust was one of Dusty Rhodes's old nicknames when he first started in the wrestling business)
The gimmick looked ridiculous and we all thought, "what are they doing with Cody?" but once again, Cody Rhodes made the gimmick work, continuing to show his versatility as a performer.
Stardust would wind up teaming with Goldust to once again reunite the brothers. The duo turned heel in a surprising move, and went on to hold the tag titles until late in 2014. After that loss, it seemed Cody would again get a singles push, by first going over his brother, as the group once again was splitting. Instead of a big payoff at WrestleMania, the match was thrown away at Fastlane, and Goldust won with a rollup, a half-assed ending. What was the way the feud ended? Stardust attacked Goldust pretending to be a Rodebud in a costume. From there, Stardust was thrown into the IC tile ladder match at WrestleMania and lost that match. In the King of the Ring tournament, he lost in the opening round to R-Truth. He lost to Truth again at Payback. At Elimination Chamber, he merely wrestled on the pre-show, getting a meaningless win over Zack Ryder. He was left off the Money in the Bank card.
How does such a talented performer like Cody constantly get jerked around, teasing a push at times, only for him to quickly be knocked down a few pegs? It's time for it to stop.
I don't want this to sound like Dusty Rhodes's death should be exploited to push Cody. We all remember how distasteful it was when Eddie Guerrero's death was brought into Rey Mysterio's road to WrestleMania in which he won the title. The idea doesn't have to go that way. This is simply an opportunity for Cody to go back to the names Rhodes and drop the Stardust gimmick. It's not in any way exploitative. It feels real that Cody would want to re-adopt his family name and continue his father's legacy.
What Cody would need is a hot feud and a chance to shine in both his promos and his matches. The transformation of Rhodes could easily start by him simply coming down to the ring as Cody Rhodes, addressing the crowd and saying he will continue the legacy of The American Dream.
It's not like pushing Rhodes would simply rely on building sympathy for a man that just lost his iconic father. Cody Rhodes is an easy guy to get behind. He's a guy that's worked hard his entire career, has always done more with less and a guy who has been held back from truly shining for far too long. Cody Rhodes has always been deserving of, at the very least an opportunity on the main event scene. It's time for the WWE to stop taking some of its top talents like Cody for granted.
His career is at a crossroad. You can either take him to the next level or you could let yet another young, (yet experienced) talent quietly fade away. This issue with Cody has been an underlying one for far too long. Dusty's passing may have just resurfaced what has always been right in front of our eyes.
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