Will Cody ever capture Holly's respect?
UNITED KINGDOM -- Having Hall of Famer the "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes as a father helped inspire a "never say die" spirit in Cody Rhodes. And that's why he keeps challenging Hardcore Holly, even after being on the receiving end of his Alabama Slam in three straight tough losses to the respected veteran.
Nevertheless, Cody is determined to prove that he's deserving of the ring veteran's respect. He continues to press the former Intercontinental Champion for match after match. But how much longer can the Raw upstart continue to absorb punishment week after week without having his fiery spirit broken?
Cody told WWE.com that he believes he's doing exactly what Holly told him to do: Earning his respect. And he won't stop until he gets a handshake from Holly.
"Hardcore's getting what he asked for," Cody said. "He told me in the center of the ring that he wanted me to earn his respect. ... Frankly, I think he's surprised that I'm doing my best to make that happen."
Cody Rhodes may be making progress. Holly nodded his head in approval Monday night on Raw after the son of the son of a plumber pushed him to the limit -- a stark contrast to their first meeting, when the Alabama native shook his head in disgust.
After Monday's match, the ornery Holly conceded to WWE.com he was impressed -- with young Rhodes' pain tolerance, that is.
"The kid sure can take an ass whippin'," he remarked. Holly said he admired Cody's tenacity, but said "the kid" has a long way to go to ultimately earn his esteem.
Cody Rhodes is not the first up-and-coming Superstar who has sought Holly's regard. As a no-nonsense trainer on Tough Enough years ago, he tried to build up the Superstars of tomorrow by breaking them down first, then rebuilding them mentally and physically. Could Holly be doing the same to Cody, forcing him to rise to the occasion with each grueling matchup?
Or maybe he just sees the son of the American Dream as a pest standing in his way as he climbs up the WWE Championship ranks. Either way, Holly says Cody will have to literally beat the respect out of him.
"It's not about taking it. It's about taking it and giving it back," he explained. "He needs to give it back to me tenfold. If he can do that, he'll earn my respect. If he doesn't, I won't respect him and never will."