Cody Rhodes On If He Was Scared to Leave WWE, the Decline of the Stardust Character and More

Former WWE Superstar Cody Rhodes called into Busted Open this week with Doug Mortman and Larry Dallas to discuss his upcoming shows and life post-WWE, and below are some highlights:
Cody Rhodes on if he was scared to finally leave WWE:

“So, little-known fact, I had kind of planned for some time that I would be leaving. My father actually wanted me to ask for my release after WrestleMania 28 in Miami. I remember him telling me and it took me, gosh, five years to follow his advice. Yeah, I’d say it’s scary, but maybe it’s not scary at all now that I think about it. Just because I know what I’m capable of doing and I know what I’m capable of not. I didn’t want to be delusional about it. I was very familiar with my own skill-set and I wasn’t able to put it on display where I was at, so why stay? Why stay when there are these opportunities. I didn’t get the opportunity to wrestle Kurt Angle in WWE; I got to wrestle Kurt Angle in Northeast Wrestling and not only Kurt Angle, Mike Bennett – the shining star of TNA, the ‘Miracle’ Mike Bennett – the night before. And then Sunday, Sami Callihan, who is just building a massive brand for himself all without the machine. You mention Brian Anthony, who’s kind of the young guy on the totem pole – well, that’s the one you have to look out for – and Ricky Steamboat’s involved with those matches. Those matches weren’t happening for me in WWE, so why stay?”

On not just staying in WWE for the money:

“I’m rich already. I don’t need the money (laughing). I worked for them for ten years and they paid me really, really well. I absolutely appreciate what you’re saying because there are those who stay with the mentality… the ‘pin me, pay me’ mentality. That don’t work for me, bud. This was never about the money. It was about those moments – you know, I’m from a wrestling family so I grew up wanting to have moments like I saw my father have and if I can’t chase those, then I’m not doing the right job. That connection he had as a performer with the fan – the real, authentic connection – even when you only get that in fleeting situations, it’s the best feeling in the world for a performer. So it made it easy for me.”

On the idea behind the Stardust character and its gradual decline:

“Well, it wasn’t mine. That’s the best I can say. It wasn’t mine, but I can say once I knew we were moving forward with it, I did really try to – if you ever see some of the concept art, I should probably put it out on Twitter. The original designs for Stardust – they look like Cable from the X-Men. They just had paint on one eye and it was almost like a scar and it grew into, ‘Let’s have him cut his hair short like his brother and let’s paint him up like his brother.’ Then, even one of the last arguments was the suit was supposed to be a different color and they were like, ‘Oh, well they should match’ and I just – ugh. It got farther. It took me the whole time as Stardust to get it as close to the comic book element as I could. It took me the whole time I was Stardust until kind of the bitter end. I can say that it was one of the most offensive for the old man because I think he thinks I’m way more handsome than I am. He thinks I look like Errol Flynn. He couldn’t believe that they had covered my body and my face up and that was his shtick on it because he always said I had like these movie-star good looks. He would always say it in front of the wrong people and always I’d have to kind of like, ‘Hey, Dad, calm down here’. Whoever’s decision it was, I don’t think everything was thought out in the process. I think they just wanted that quick moment of ‘Oh, well, Goldust is his brother, so wouldn’t that be cool?’ And then, two years later, it wasn’t as cool.”

On wanting to return to being Cody Rhodes after Dusty’s passing:

“It worked…when the fans started chanting ‘Cody’ and I always thought, okay, so they’re chanting ‘Cody’, it gets under the skin of Stardust. Stardust is like this symbiote that got into the blood of the original Cody Rhodes and the fans remember, so someone’s going to knock the Stardust out of Cody, essentially. I always thought they went hand-in-hand so I thought, okay, it’s time for me to move on. The fans are ready, they’re the ones chanting it, and – especially after my Dad’s passing – it’s almost a little awkward for them to watch this character portrayal. This method acting, kind of – it’s awkward to them. They know who I am. They know what I’ve been through. I didn’t feel like I was saddled with it until my Dad’s passing and then it just seemed like just no one was hearing what I was hearing as far as the fans wanting me to come back as Cody. And it’s real easy for a talent to become kind of disillusioned like, ‘Oh, well, they want it. They want it. Hear ‘em?’ and sometimes it’s not the fans that people listen to the most and that’s when things don’t go well. In this case, though, it all led to where I am now so no harm, no foul.”

On keeping a promise to his father to never use his passing in storyline:

“Here’s the issue: I didn’t want to be anything after my Dad’s passing. I didn’t want to be Stardust, but I didn’t want to be Cody Rhodes either, because – it’s a very long story that I shared with my buddy the other night and some people know this. My Dad despised the angle between – I want to say it was Rey Mysterio and Randy Orton, where they mentioned Eddie Guerrero and they mentioned his passing and they used it as a vessel. A lot of people said, ‘Oh, well, Eddie would love this.’ He might have, but I never, ever, ever will forget – my Dad and I were watching Raw at the time. My Dad said, ‘Do not let anyone ever say I would’ve loved something.’ And he was just talking about, in general, for when the day comes that he’s not around and that stuck with me forever. I remember he went on a whole tirade that night. He was like, ‘How do they know for sure?’ and he was one of those who I had to beg him to come back for Battleground. I had to beg him to come back for anything. He really wanted his body of work to stand on its own and speak for itself. So when he passed, no one presented me with the kind of option of, hey, let me rally the flag and do it for the family.  But I personally wouldn’t have been comfortable doing it because I had built my previous nine, ten years there on trying to be anything, but Dusty’s son so it would be cheap, it would be hollow for me to have done it then. Would it have worked? Probably, but I didn’t want to do that because I love my Dad too much to bring his name up on TV and say I’m doing it for him when the last nine, ten years of my career, I had been doing it for me, you know?”

On the void left by Dusty’s passing and the personal nature of it fans don’t seem to grasp:

“It’s Dusty Rhodes, man. He’s one of the Mount Rushmore of professional wrestling and if you disagree, I would tell you to look into what he did for cable television. Without Dusty and without Vince going at each other in the 1980’s, the advent of cable and pay-per-view would not have happened the way it happened. So I always consider him from both a biased family member, but also from an objective wrestling fan standpoint, I consider him one of wrestling’s Mount Rushmore. It’s a void that – I don’t think wrestling fans have had to deal with a loss like this ever. There have been some terrible and tragic losses, but with Dusty, it’s been really unique in how it’s been handled. I don’t know how many times I meet folks and, for whatever reason they think I want to hear this, but they say, ‘I was so sad when your Dad passed away’ and I’m always thinking, you know, no kidding, so was I. It was my Dad. That’s like the number one thing fans say to me in the airport – ‘I’m sorry about your father’ – and I’m like, ‘Well, that’s nice. Thank you, thank you so much, but so am I.’ My mom noticed this because she went to the NWA Legends Fanfest. A lot of people like to tell us how awful losing Dusty was and, as much as we appreciate that, I think people forget I didn’t just lose the ‘American Dream’, the character you knew on television. That was my father. Dusty was semi-retired when I was growing up. He was there for everything I ever did. I caught Dusty taking a picture of me and Rey Mysterio at WrestleMania in Atlanta behind our backs, standing together before my match. He became a really big fan of mine and that’s a different loss than just losing someone you’re familiar with on television, but I do love all the love that surrounds the Dream.”

On if he finds himself asking ‘What would Dusty do?’:

“100 percent. 100 percent and I kind of drowned that voice out for a long time. Dusty wanted me to leave WWE after WrestleMania in Miami and I pushed that off and wanted to do it on my own and I always tried not to be a daddy’s boy and get advice from as many other people, more objective people than my own father. But that’s exactly where I’m tuned in now is the ‘What would Dusty do?’ because he had a great sense, not just as my father, but as a businessman. For the business, for the sizzle, but also for the substance and giving the fans both sizzle and substance. I say, ‘Hey, what would Dusty do?’ Dusty wouldn’t be at the WWE show on Saturday night. Dusty would be in Wappingers Falls and he would be in that Kurt Angle match. That’s obvious. That’s where he would be. He would be in control of his destiny and that’s important that you remain, in whatever job you’re in, in control of your destiny. It’s real easy to believe someone else is in control of what you do. It’s totally up to you, I think, especially in entertainment. That’s it, man – what would Dad do?”

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