Cody Rhodes’ shocking exit from AEW leaves a path for his return to WWE, a place he hasn’t been since 2016. Rhodes’ departure seemed to be partly tied to being disgruntled with how he was handled in the brand, but that’s not to say the wrestler didn’t have his bright moments in the company.
As the son of the iconic Dusty Rhodes, Cody Rhodes was always meant to do big things in wrestling. While he might not have hit the levels of success he hoped to achieve in his initial run with the company, Rhodes had no shortage of things to hang his hat on. In chronological order, here are some of Cody Rhodes’ most iconic moments while in the WWE.
Cody Rhodes Debut Welcome By Randy Orton (Monday Night Raw/ 2007)
Cody Rhodes spent some time in WWE’s development but finally made his debut during a Monday Night Raw back in July of 2007. Rhodes got into a backstage confrontation with Randy Orton after Orton slapped Rhodes’ father Dusty across the face. The two had a match the following week, and despite a valiant effort, Rhodes took a loss to The Viper.
Randy Orton is about the most fitting person to bring Cody Rhodes into the company, especially given their similar backgrounds as the sons of prominent wrestlers. Of course, Orton had only been in the WWE about five years at that point, so he wasn’t quite the veteran he is now. Even so, the feud was iconic because it ultimately led to one of the most memorable factions of Rhodes’ career.
Cody Rhodes Wins His First Tag Team Title With Hardcore Holly (Monday Night Raw/ 2007)
The wrestling career of Cody Rhodes didn’t gain a ton of ground until, surprisingly, a losing feud with fellow superstar Hardcore Holly. Rhodes dropped three consecutive matches to Holly, but his willingness to keep coming back for more ultimately won the veteran over. The two formed a tag team. Rhodes would win his first tag-team title with Holly and his second after betraying Holly and teaming up with Ted DiBiase.
Perhaps the most notable feather in Cody’s cap in the WWE is his proficiency in the tag-team division. Rhodes found success with many other wrestlers throughout his career and held two variations of the titles a total of six times. You can’t really talk about Cody Rhodes without talking about tag-teams, which is what makes this moment iconic.
The Creation Of The Legacy (Monday Night Raw/ 2009)
Cody Rhodes had run-ins with Randy Orton and Ted DiBiase early in his career, but it wasn’t until down the road that he’d team with the two to create the iconic stable The Legacy. The name, of course, originated from the fact that all three men were the sons of wrestling legends, hoping to forge their own path in the business. The group had a decent run that even led to some main event opportunities during Orton’s various feuds.
The Legacy didn’t last, but their breakup led to a triple-threat match at WrestleMania 26. Randy Orton ultimately defeated Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, but that’s not surprising given that it’s Randy Orton. Unfortunately, Rhodes never got quite the same level of opportunities as other legacy wrestlers but iconic moments like this showed he was worthy.
Cody Rhodes Wins His First (And Second) Intercontinental Championship (SmackDown/ 2011)
Four years after his main roster debut in the WWE, Cody Rhodes captured his first singles title. Rhodes won the Intercontinental Championship after defeating Ezekiel Jackson. That reign lasted 8 months and included feuds against Randy Orton, Booker T, and a Royal Rumble match in which he lasted 40 minutes and eliminated a slew of opponents. He ultimately lost the title to Big Show at WrestleMania 28, ending his awesome run. Of course, he’d regain the title a month later, beating Big Show but would lose it shortly after to Christian.
As I mentioned earlier, a lot of what Cody Rhodes is remembered for in the WWE is his tag-team runs. With that said, this intercontinental run is certainly one of Rhodes’ best as a wrestler in my opinion, and certainly, one that fans should catch up on with a Peacock premium subscription.
The Creation Of The Rhodes Scholars (Monday Night Raw/ 2012)
Cody Rhodes had run through a lot of gimmicks and personas at this point, but still had a few more tricks up his sleeve when he teamed with Damien Sandow. The two defeated the popular tag-team Hell No (Daniel Bryan and Kane), Rhodes grew a mustache, and life was fantastic. As is the case with most of Rhodes’ partnerships, the whole thing ended in betrayal when Sandow robbed Rhodes of a Money in the Bank opportunity.
The betrayal served as an iconic moment as any in Cody Rhodes’ career, as it led to his return to playing a face role in WWE. Rhodes left his heel nature behind, as good as he was at it. It later paved the way for the ultimate team-up fans wanted to see for some time, and what became the beginning of the end of Rhodes’ time in WWE.
Cody Rhodes Joins His Brother Goldust (Monday Night Raw/ 2013)
Cody Rhodes took on his father Dusty’s performance last name when he entered the WWE, but many wrestling fans knew he wasn’t the first “Rhodes” to enter the Vince McMahon-owned company. Rhodes’ older half-brother Dustin competed in the WWE years before Cody in a name wrestling fans remember well, Goldust. The stars finally aligned in 2013, when both Rhodes brothers competed for a chance to win their way back into the company after being “fired” previously.
They were victorious, and the WWE got to see the iconic sons of Dusty Rhodes compete side-by-side. Of course, wrestling fans may remember what came next, which some consider the most polarizing chapter of Cody Rhodes’ career.
Cody Rhodes Becomes Stardust (Monday Night Raw/ 2014)
The WWE wanted to shake things up with Cody Rhodes, and apparently, the best way to do that was to give him a sidekick gimmick to his brother’s iconic Goldust role. Stardust was born and, in some ways, even weirder than Goldust. Reaction to the gimmick was mixed from wrestling fans, though it did lead to a few good things. For example, Stardust had a notable feud with Arrow star Stephen Amell, and one has to think that ultimately helped lead to Amell’s future work on the Starz series Heels.
For better or worse (it depends on who you ask), Stardust is an iconic piece of Cody Rhodes’ legacy. It was the final persona he had before he requested his release in 2016 and went on to do many things, including helping start AEW. Who knows if any of this will be addressed should he return to the brand, but it is certainly worth remembering.
Cody Rhodes isn’t back in the WWE just yet, but there’s certainly a chance of it happening. Be sure to tune into Monday Night Raw Mondays over at USA at 8:00 p.m. ET to see any clues of it happening, or catch SmackDown on Fridays over at Fox at the same time.
Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.
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