Cody Rhodes: Gentleman, Throwback, Scholar
You’re a bit of a deceptive veteran in terms of the WWE roster, because you’re still so young, but you debuted all the way back in 2007. What would a mustachioed Cody tell that rookie, or even “Dashing” Cody, if given the chance?
The upshot would be: If you think you’re working hard, then you’re not working hard enough. One thing I’ve learned is that, literally every week, you realize that if you want to eclipse John Cena, or whoever is at the top, you have to work as hard as they do, even harder, in fact. That’s a tall task.
How would you describe the 21-year-old Cody Rhodes?
Ignorance is bliss. When you’re 21 years old, and you’re handed these big checks with “WWE” written on them, and you’re single, it’s really easy to get caught up in believing your ego. But that was cool. When I was in my teens, I never really had a high-school experience because I was so dedicated to amateur wrestling. I never really got into the party scene. So it was brief, the wild days of myself—even though I’m 27-going-on-40 now.
You’ve bounced in between tag team and singles competition, finding success in both. Do you feel that plenitude of experience sets you apart from the bulk of the roster?
Oh, for sure. I told Miz the other day that it feels like I’m 27 years old, and I’ve won the Tag Titles 33 times with 45 different partners. If I was lazy, if I could kick it into cruise control, I’d be in a much better mood and I’d be able to deliver in and out. That multitude of experience has provided me with the feeling that I can do this in my sleep, but the truth is that I still hunger for more experience. I don’t think I was bestowed with talent. I think Goldust got all of my dad’s talent, and I think I got my mom’s work ethic. So that’s kind of how I go about utilizing that wide experience.
What do you think the WWE roster is missing right now, and how can Cody Rhodes fill that void?
Consistency. As far as the year-round, everyday-in and everyday-out iron men in WWE—there are only a few of them—I wish we had more like myself, Antonio Cesaro and Kofi Kingston, who don’t ever take holidays and are consistently attempting to put on the best match of the night whenever they go out.
What has been the most trying experience you’ve faced in the last six years, and how have you overcome it?
The most trying experience I’ve faced was The Legacy, because it was designed to support Randy Orton. Ted DiBiase and I were the supporting cast. And I was the least important. I was the ugly duckling of the bunch. I don’t think anyone ever expected me to eclipse, A.) Being Dusty Rhodes’s son, or B.) Being Randy Orton’s lackey. I was able to do both. Say what you want, this is entertainment, but I was only able to do that because I busted my ass.
You’ve been competing in WWE since 2007, so where do you see yourself in 2019?
I’d be 34 years old in 2019. It’s funny, I was in Savannah, Georgia, at a live event last night—a five-o’clock show on a Sunday. I’m hoping six years from now, I’ll be at another arena just like Savannah’s for a five-o’clock show on a Sunday. I don’t want the scenery to change, but I’d certainly like who Cody Rhodes and WWE is to change. There’s never been a better time than now for me to try to climb that ladder. It’s a hell of a task, but I don’t want those people who said, “Rhodes to the future” to assume we aren’t in the future yet, because we are at this point.
In a recent interview about Superstars deteriorating with age, you mentioned Tito Santana’s ability to still work well during his later years. How do you plan to take care of yourself and do this into old age? Would you want to?
I would like to do this until I can’t do it anymore—and not because I need to. I never wanted to do this because I needed to. I don’t even look at my checks, to be totally honest. I do this because it’s my passion. I’m always really proud of how my dad handled his departure from the sports-entertainment world. He never wanted to be seen as less than he was. He never wanted to go out there with grey hair or bad arthritis, and he could barely get up off the mat. He wanted you to remember him for what he was, so when I feel like I no longer can provide members of the WWE Universe with everything I would tell somebody interviewing me about, then that’s time to walk away and never look back.
You’ve yet to look back since growing the mustache. Arenas love chanting “Co-dy’s must-ache!”—but how has it changed your life outside the ring?
It’s weird. The mustache has opened me up to a world of older women checking me out more, and older men respecting me far more. But as far as my generation—’90s kids, basically—I’m the least cool thing going. There are questions about me; I have a “questionable look.” So it’s opened me up to the older generation to some degree. Cody’s mustache has been polarizing: People love what it did to me and people hate what it did to me.
To read more from this exclusive interview, including how Cody has matured over the years, the details of his mustache maintenance routine, and how he and Damien Sandow score free eats at Waffle House, pick up the September issue of WWE Magazine or SUBSCRIBE HERE and save 70 percent off the newsstand sale price.