Following in the footsteps of a legend is never easy, but professional wrestler Cody Rhodes is definitely marking his own path. The son of Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes, Cody spent years watching WWE recruiting and developing independent and international talent. Cody went the other way, leaving the company last year to forge his own path in American promotions like Ring of Honor and international groups including New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Cody returns to Buffalo Oct. 12 for a joint ROH and NJPW “Global Wars” show, where he will team with Marty Scurll to face the CHAOS team of Yoshi-Hashi and Toru Yano. During a recent phone interview, the ROH Champion talked about the legacy of his father and memories of his famous 2013 WWE Battleground match in Buffalo when the Rhodes family took on the Shield.
Q: With WWE recruiting so many indie and international wrestlers over the past few years, you’re one of the few guys to go the other way. How has this experience gone for you?
A: It’s definitely the road less traveled that I’m on, but there more people navigating it like I am. I could be totally wrong, but I feel a lot like I did in 1996 and '97 as a fan, when my family’s business was getting ready to be the coolest thing. The next thing I know, I went from being the only wrestling fan in my class to having Nitro parties and the Monday Night War. I feel like we’re on the cusp of entering a really, unbelievably good era for our industry fans and competitors alike. Financially of course, but for fans, there’s variety. You can go onto New Japan World and there’s English commentary primed and ready. The Fite app is primed and ready for Ring of Honor. The WWE Network is primed and ready. It’s whatever you choose.
Q: What are your memories of that Battleground match in Buffalo, which was the first time the Rhodes family teamed together?
A: Going into it, I felt completely different than when I was coming out of it. There was a lot of high stress at the time. It was almost uncomfortable, because I was working really hard to garner my own spotlight and getting away from the family. But then, obviously, it became a magical moment. It’s a great learning experience when you’re busting it for 20 minutes, and then my dad just does the elbow. That was the thing that got the people to stand up for the remainder of the match. Grab an apple, because you’re going to school. It was really special, and looking back on it, it’s a tremendous memory. Our family looks at it as Dusty’s last stand. He could barely get up the steps, but on that night, it didn’t matter. There are so many great things about Buffalo, but honestly, that one will always jump to number one.
Q: Fans still fondly remember your father, who passed in 2015. What is your own personal legacy of your father?
A: This is something I struggle with pretty regularly. Had he not been famous, I wouldn’t have shared him with anybody . Butbecause he was who he was, I have to share him with the world, in terms of what happens next, his legacy, and things like Starrcade and War Games. I have to be honest, people don’t always like my opinion. There’s no handbook for how I’m supposed to handle this. I don’t know what’s best all the time, but I know a lot of his estate, creations and likeness are owned by WWE. That doesn’t always mean I have to like it, but I try very hard to protect his legacy from a family standpoint, but also, I know he would like me to do as much stuff about “me” as I possibly could.
He was unlike a lot of older wrestlers in that he didn’t want to be in the spotlight. He wanted his body of work to exist for what it was, and that meant that we had we had to be our own people. Goldust had to be Goldust, and I had to trend upward, no matter what, and weather the storm. There’s a lot of different ways we try to carry his legacy forward, and we always try our best.
Ring of Honor/New Japan Pro Wrestling “Global Wars”
7 p.m. Oct. 12 at Buffalo Riverworks, 359 Ganson St. Tickets are $30-$70. Info: rohwrestling.com