Professional wrestler Cody Rhodes, son of the legendary “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, revealed Saturday that he asked WWE to release him.
The 30-year-old Rhodes, whose real name is Cody Runnels, debuted in developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling in June 2006. “Graduating” to the main roster a year later, Rhodes quickly established himself as a core member of WWE, consistently given entertaining TV- and pay-per-view-level storylines.
Early in his career, Rhodes created the faction Legacy, along with Ted DiBiase, Jr., and Randy Orton: a trio of second-generation wrestlers who feuded with Triple H and the McMahons - then, as now, both the on-screen and real-life bosses of WWE. Following Legacy’s breakup, Rhodes embarked on a singles career that saw him win a pair of Intercontinental championships, often thought of as the mark of the best true wrestler in the company.
In 2013, after being storyline fired to take time off for his real-life wedding and honeymoon, Rhodes entered into an angle with his father and older brother Dustin (longtime WWE wrestler Goldust), with the three Rhodes men fighting the Triple H/McMahon authority to get their jobs back.
Dusty was, even in his twilight, one of the most captivating speakers on the planet, and it was so obvious and special how much all three Rhodes men loved and appreciated the opportunity to work together. Winning not only their jobs back, but also the tag team titles, Cody and Goldust continued to wrestle together as Cody developed and grew his “Stardust” character - a face-painting, bodysuit-wearing alter ego whose look and mannerisms resembled those of his older brother.
Through an eventual breakup with Goldust, Stardust became increasingly manic and paranoid, cutting exciting and passionate promos on top of his always-exemplary in-ring work.
Before following his father’s and brother’s footsteps into professional wrestling, Rhodes was an accomplished amateur — winning the Georgia state title at 189 pounds in both 2003 and 2004. Declining a wrestling scholarship to Penn State, Cody instead moved to LA to pursue acting when he felt called to the squared circle.
Assuming WWE grants him his release, Rhodes should have no shortage of options. His famous lineage, creativity, and ring presence would draw huge money on the Japanese wrestling scene. His on-screen charisma, good looks, and athleticism might make him a natural for Hollywood, too, following in the footsteps of The Rock and Batista (but hopefully not Hulk Hogan and The Miz).
Since yesterday’s announcement, Rhodes has gone radio silent, but is expected to give more detail surrounding the decision and his future soon.
Photo Credit: WWE
Update: WWE granted Rhodes his release, effective immediately. Rhodes followed with a powerful statement on Twitter, reprinted for clarity below.
Setting foot in the dingy ol’ Greensboro Coliseum this past Monday can only be described for me as just a whimsical moment of clarity. At this point, most folks know that I have indeed asked for my release from World Wrestling Entertainment, but it’s paramount in my mind for the fans of pro-wrestling to have some answers and not be left with questions. A many superlative can be used to describe my mentor in wrestling, but one I often forget about...is fearless. And it’s a trait I wish more of had been passed down my way.
So there I was, standing in the very same locker-room Ric Flair had dressed in before changing the wrestling/PPV(closed-circuit at the time) game forever and capturing the NWA Title at Starrcade 83', “a Flair for the gold”; it’s sad that after once again being benched off TV that my fate in said spot was instead to be relegated to watching a monitor advertising a returning star and kicking open my tumi gear bag to find an outfit I had long outgrown and a face-paint kit. Both HHH and Vince McMahon have given me many fun and challenging opportunities in my career, and I showed my gratitude by always pushing for the best segment I could create, the most interest I could generate. They gave me the chance to train on the job with some of the most brilliant minds in our world (gentlemen like Arn Anderson and Fit Finlay). I would do this job for free, but that didn’t stop WWE from always compensating me in a generous manner. My goal in pro-wrestling has always been to win the WWE Championship(the one accolade in the game my Father never obtained), and for a decade I tried to convince both Vince and HHH that I could be their star-player, their varsity quarterback if you will, but it seems we have reached the point where neither saw that in me. I sincerely appreciate HHH’s unflinching respect for my Father, and how he has acted as a custodian of history in honoring him since his passing. He did not owe me that same respect he gave Dream, but I thought I could earn it in time. One of the last discussions we had included him telling me that “wwe is a play, and everybody has their role and needs to act it their best”. All I can think of to say to that is, “the best actors don’t want the lesser roles”. In the past 6-months I had pleaded with WWE Creative and both of my bosses to let me roll-the-dice and once again be Cody Rhodes. I had pitched to every writer on staff like a door-to-door salesman on “how” & “why” & “when”...and believe me, there are many of those who sought to help me(Brian James, Nick, Fax, J Russo, Dave K, JBL&Cole for letting me go wild on their YouTube show and a few others I’m sure) but for all that, both “head writers” of RAW & SmackDown(one pretending to be Brian Gewirtz and the other too busy hitting on developmental divas) continued to not return my pitches or e-Mails, and in face-to-face encounters tried to big league me by pretending to be on their clearly powered-off laptops...barely willing to listen to an idea I considered beneficial to more than one talent. What’s that expression? Don’t take no for an answer...what do you do when you don’t get an answer at all? So there I was...having done everything I could possibly do for ten years to make the most out of both large opportunities and even the half-cocked ones like “paint-up like your Brother”. Chicken shit into chicken salad became my specialty; and with those worthy opportunities afforded me...I can only hope I fully executed. I’ve made the walk down the ramp at multiple WrestleManias, and I have had a WrestleMania match cancelled while I stood at the curtain moments before my music hit. I felt like a had a bag [sic] of those brass-rings and when it came time for me to cash them in, I find I can’t do so.
Like I said, Monday was whimsical...because I felt that fearlessness in my blood, even if just for a fleeting moment. I realized that I don’t need to sell myself to these two writers captaining a broken unrecognizable system, matter a fact with the time I had put in and the body of work I presented it should have been the other way around. I realized that blood is thicker than paint, that I know who I am and what I’m capable of...I’m not Dusty Rhodes, I’m Cody Rhodes. I’m a pro-wrestler. I am proud of that. It’s been said never to leave money on the table, but no money is worth being less than you are. Ask my wife, I don’t even read the check breakdowns...this was never about the money, this was always about the moments, and I’ll be dammed if my fathers legacy is “stardust” or a series of sizzle-reels for NXT. It’s not my job to pick up his sword. It’s my privilege. I will miss many of the soldiers in that locker-room, some who I have earned their friendship. Guys like Cesaro, Zack Ryder, Tyler Breeze, KO, Harper, Kofi, Tye, the wasteland and the NC...keep that locker-room clean and keep having a better match than you’re supposed to, I do believe the cream rises and hard work prevails. My work just needs to be elsewhere. I want to thank both fans and critics of mine alike. There is no greater responsibility than having a fan who expects a level of entertainment from you, and there’s nothing more motivating than those who buy a ticket yet find something lacking(considering the first few CAW years of my career, I always took the criticism as more of a request and I made what adjustments I could for the overall product). Again, from the BOTTOM OF MY HEART...thank you. Almost one year ago, the biggest light in my sky was ripped away from me when I lost my Father. It’s time for me to try to seek that illumination...that glow that’s still out there. This is not a goodbye. There’s a whole world of film and television and the stage that I might find I have a knack for(maybe I even already got an offer). As far as the future is concerned though, I’m a wrestler. So that’s what I’ll do...wrestle.