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Cody Rhodes

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Cody Rhodes
Cody Rhodes April 2014.jpg
Rhodes in April 2014
Birth name Cody Garrett Runnels[1]
Born (1985-06-30) June 30, 1985 (age 31)[1]
Marietta, Georgia,
United States[2]
Residence Los Angeles, California
United States
Spouse(s) Brandi Rhodes (m. 2013)
Family Dusty Rhodes (father)
Goldust (half-brother)
Magnum T.A. (godfather)
Fred Ottman (uncle)
Jerry Sags (uncle)
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Cody Rhodes[3]
Cody Runnels[3]
Cody
Cody R[4]
Stardust
Billed height 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)[5]
Billed weight 220 lb (100 kg)[5]
Billed from Charlotte, North Carolina
Marietta, Georgia[6]
Stars of the Milky Way
The Fifth Dimension[5]
Trained by Al Snow[2]
Bruno Sassi[2]
Dusty Rhodes[2]
Glacier[2]
Debut 2006

Cody Garrett Runnels (born June 30, 1985) is an American professional wrestler currently performing for Ring of Honor (ROH), Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) and the international independent circuit where he performs under the ring name Cody. He previously worked in WWE under the ring names Cody Rhodes and later Stardust. He is the son of late WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes and the half-brother of WWE wrestler Goldust. After an amateur wrestling career that resulted in becoming a two-time Georgia state champion, he followed his father and older brother's footsteps into the professional ranks and joined WWE.

After becoming a Triple Crown Champion in Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), WWE's developmental territory at the time, he was elevated to the main roster, where he became a two-time Intercontinental Champion. A prolific tag team wrestler, Rhodes has won six tag team championships (three World Tag Team Championships and three WWE Tag Team Championships) with four separate tag team partners.[1][7] Along with Goldust, he also won the 2013 Tag Team of the Year Slammy Award. Runnels left WWE in May 2016.

Since leaving WWE, Runnels has found success in numerous independent wrestling promotions, including WhatCulture Pro Wrestling (WCPW), for which he is the current WCPW Internet Champion, and Global Force Wrestling (GFW), where he is also the current GFW NEX*GEN Champion.

Early life[edit]

Runnels was born in Marietta, Georgia. He had a successful high school wrestling career, attending Lassiter High School.[1] He placed sixth in the 171 lb (78 kg) division as a sophomore.[8] As a junior, he won the Georgia state tournament at 189 lb (86 kg) in 2003, and repeated as champion his senior year.[8] He had planned to wrestle collegiately at Pennsylvania State University, but decided to become a professional wrestler instead.[9] During his time in high school, Runnels also acted as a referee in his father's Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling promotion.[10] After graduating high school, Runnels attended an acting school.[11]

Professional wrestling career[edit]

World Wrestling Entertainment/WWE[edit]

Ohio Valley Wrestling (2006–2007)[edit]

A close-up of a young Caucasian male with black hair. He is wearing a light-colored tee-shirt with the yellow logo of the Ohio Valley Wrestling promotion upon it.
Runnels in 2007 during his stay in OVW

Using his real name, Runnels began wrestling in Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) in June 2006.[1] Runnels formed a tag team with Shawn Spears in mid-August 2006 and they quickly became embroiled in a feud with The Untouchables over the OVW Southern Tag Team Championship.[12][13] They first captured the championship from The Untouchables on October 18.[1] In November 2006, Runnels and Spears defeated The Untouchables in a tag team match, and won the services of Cherry, The Untouchables' manager.[14] Cherry accompanied Spears and Runnels to ringside, and soon Spears began to fall in love with her, which began interfering with their matches.[15][16] On November 29, the OVW Southern Tag Team Championship was vacated after a match between The Untouchables and Runnels and Spears ended in a draw.[17] The following week, a rematch between the two teams was held for the vacant championship.[17] During this match Cherry turned on Spears and Runnels, rejoining The Untouchables and helping them regain the OVW Southern Tag Team Championship.[17][18] Two weeks later, on December 20, Runnels and Spears defeated Deuce 'n Domino in a Street Fight to win the championship for the second time.[19] Shortly afterwards, Runnels and Spears became involved in a scripted rivalry with each other, after Spears became jealous of Runnels' success as a singles wrestler.[1] This rift started when Runnels won the OVW Heavyweight Championship from Paul Burchill at a house show on February 17, 2007, only to lose it to Burchill the next day.[1][20] Spears went on to win the OVW Television Championship in response.[1] On April 11, the duo lost the Southern Tag Team Championship to the team of Justin LaRouche and Charles Evans.[1] Runnels went on to defeat his now heated rival on July 6, to become the new OVW Television Champion.[1][21] Exactly one week later, however, Runnels lost the championship to Spears.[22]

Teaming with Hardcore Holly (2007–2008)[edit]

Rhodes with Hardcore Holly

On the July 2, 2007 edition of Raw, Runnels made his television debut, using the ring name Cody Rhodes, in a backstage segment with his father Dusty Rhodes and Randy Orton, where Orton introduced himself to Rhodes and then slapped Dusty as a sign of disrespect.[23] On July 9, Rhodes slapped Orton in return, and the following week, Rhodes faced Orton in his debut WWE match, but lost.[24][25] Rhodes appeared at The Great American Bash to prevent Orton from further attacking his father.[26] The next night on Raw, Rhodes challenged Orton to a rematch from the previous week, only to lose again. Orton followed this up by kicking Rhodes' father in the head, similar to how he had in storyline nearly ended the careers of both Shawn Michaels and Rob Van Dam.[27] Rhodes' next storyline was a rivalry with Daivari, after he pinned him on the July 30, 2007 edition of Raw, to keep his job.[28] In the midst of this rivalry, he also feuded with The World's Greatest Tag Team, defeating both members, Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin in singles matches.[29][30] The two feuds combined, when Rhodes, along with Paul London and Brian Kendrick, beat The World's Greatest Tag Team and Daivari in a six-man tag team match.[31] The following week, Rhodes teamed up with Mickie James to defeat Daivari and Jillian Hall, ending their scripted rivalry.[32] Three weeks later, he began a feud with Hardcore Holly and lost three consecutive matches to him.[33][34][35] Rhodes eventually earned Holly's respect, impressing Holly during their matches with his persistence and several near-falls, and the two formed a tag team.[36][37] They earned a shot at the World Tag Team Title by defeating Paul London and Brian Kendrick and The Highlanders in a WWE.com exclusive match after an Alabama Slam.[38] They fought against the Tag Team Champions Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch at Survivor Series, in what was Rhodes' first on-screen title shot and pay-per-view match, but were unsuccessful.[39] On the November 19 Raw, Rhodes faced Holly for a fourth time, and beat him for the first time, although they were both attacked by Randy Orton afterwards.[40] On the Raw 15th Anniversary special episode that aired on December 10, 2007, Rhodes, along with Hardcore Holly, defeated Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch for the World Tag Team Championship, marking Rhodes' first championship in WWE.[41][42] The following week, Rhodes and Holly retained their title, in their first title defense, against Cade and Murdoch.[43] They also successfully defended the championships against the teams of Santino Marella and Carlito and Paul London and Brian Kendrick.[44][45] In May 2008, Ted DiBiase began feuding with the duo, threatening to take their titles in his first match as part of the Raw brand.[46] At the pay-per-view event, Night of Champions on June 29, Rhodes turned on Holly by revealing himself as Ted DiBiase's partner to help DiBiase win the match, becoming a villain for the first time in his career and also a two-time World Tag Team Champion.[47][48]

The Legacy (2008–2010)[edit]

After holding the championship for just over a month, they dropped it to John Cena and Batista on the August 4, 2008 edition of Raw.[49] The following week, DiBiase and Rhodes used their rematch clause to regain the championship.[50][51] Rhodes and DiBiase were joined by Manu, the son of Afa, in September, forming a stable of multi-generational superstars.[52] On the October 27, 2008 edition of Raw, Rhodes and DiBiase lost the World Tag Team Championship once again, this time to Kofi Kingston and CM Punk.[53] On the November 3, 2008 edition of Raw, Rhodes, DiBiase and Manu entered a storyline with Orton where Orton constantly criticized and insulted them and attacked DiBiase.[54] At Survivor Series, Rhodes, along with Orton, was a sole survivor, for Orton's team, in the annual Elimination match.[55] Rhodes and Manu accepted Orton's offer for an alliance in the following weeks and the trio dubbed themselves the "Legacy"; debuting in a two-on-three handicap match against Batista and Triple H.[56][57] Orton began scheduling tests for the Legacy members, so they could prove themselves and over two weeks, both Manu and Sim Snuka were kicked out.[58][59]

Three dark-haired men stand side-by-side in a wrestling ring with red ropes. The man in the center has tattoos on both his arms which are being raised in the air by the two men on either side of him. All three are wearing black wrestling tights.
Legacy in 2009 (from left to right); Rhodes, Randy Orton and Ted DiBiase

On the January 12, 2009 edition of Raw, Snuka and Manu gave Rhodes the chance to align with them to attack Orton, along with the returning DiBiase, but Rhodes refused.[60] As they ambushed Orton, DiBiase instead joined with Orton and Rhodes to attack Snuka and Manu and became a member of the Legacy.[60] As part of the Legacy, Rhodes entered the Royal Rumble match in order to help Orton win, and lasted until the final three, before being eliminated by Triple H.[61] Rhodes and DiBiase became involved in Orton's scripted rivalry with the McMahon family, helping him to attack Shane and Stephanie McMahon, and Stephanie's real-life husband, Triple H.[62][63] Rhodes was also elevated to main event status as a result of joining the Legacy, competing in handicap and six-man tag team matches against Orton's opponents and rivals.[64][65] On April 26, at Backlash, Rhodes, DiBiase, and Orton defeated Triple H, Batista, and Shane McMahon in a six-man tag team match, which, per the pre-match stipulation, resulted in Orton winning the WWE Championship.[66] Rhodes suffered a minor neck injury in June, but did not need any time off to recover.[67] Throughout mid-2009, Rhodes and DiBiase continued to compete against and attack Orton's rivals, especially Triple H.[68] This led to Triple H reforming D-Generation X (DX) with Shawn Michaels, and DX defeated Rhodes and DiBiase at SummerSlam.[69] Rhodes and DiBiase defeated DX at the following pay-per-view, Breaking Point in a submissions count anywhere match, but were defeated in a Hell in a Cell match at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view in October, when Rhodes was pinned following a sledgehammer shot to the head.[70][71] Rhodes was afterwards taken from the arena on a stretcher following the match.[72]

Tension within the Legacy became apparent at the 2010 Royal Rumble, when Rhodes attempted to interfere in Orton's match for the WWE Championship. Rhodes was caught by the referee, resulting in a disqualification for Orton, who attacked Rhodes and DiBiase, who had tried to help Rhodes, after the match.[73] On the February 15 Raw, Orton took on Sheamus in a non-title rematch, but was again disqualified after Rhodes and DiBiase interfered.[74] During the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber match pay-per-view, Rhodes interfered, passing a lead pipe through the cage to DiBiase. DiBiase hit Orton with the pipe and eliminated him from the match.[75] The next night on Raw, Orton attacked Rhodes and DiBiase during a six-man tag team match, and they attacked Orton the following week in retaliation.[76][77] This led to a triple threat match at WrestleMania XXVI, in which Orton defeated Rhodes and DiBiase.[78]

"Dashing" Cody Rhodes (2010–2011)[edit]

"Dashing" Cody Rhodes in 2010

As part of the 2010 WWE Supplemental Draft, Rhodes was drafted to the SmackDown brand.[79] He made his debut for the brand on the April 30 SmackDown, by defeating John Morrison.[80] The following week on SmackDown, Rhodes participated in a tournament for the vacant WWE Intercontinental Championship, but lost to Christian in the semi-finals.[81] Rhodes mentored Husky Harris, a third-generation wrestler, in the second season of NXT.[82][83]

On the June 25 SmackDown, Rhodes began a new narcissistic gimmick, claiming to be the best-looking wrestler in WWE and demanding to be called "Dashing" Cody Rhodes.[84] As part of the gimmick, vignettes began airing in which Rhodes gave "grooming tips".[85][86] He was extremely protective of his face during matches; if he was hit in the face, he threw a fit and checked his mirror.[87][88] In September, he attacked Christian along with Drew McIntyre after a match, and the duo also attacked Matt Hardy, forming an alliance. At Night of Champions in September, Rhodes and McIntyre captured the WWE Tag Team Championship in a Tag Team Turmoil match, also including The Hart Dynasty, The Usos, Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov, and Evan Bourne and Mark Henry.[89] At Bragging Rights, Rhodes and McIntyre lost the championship to The Nexus (John Cena and David Otunga).[90] On the October 29 SmackDown, after losing a tag team match, Rhodes and McIntyre dissolved their partnership.[91] This gimmick would end in January 2011 in a match against Rey Mysterio on SmackDown resulting in a broken nose.

Intercontinental Champion (2011–2012)[edit]

On January 21, 2011, Rhodes faced Rey Mysterio in a match, during which Mysterio hit Rhodes in the face with his exposed knee brace and legitimately broke Rhodes' nose,[92][93] which led to Rhodes declaring he was no longer dashing and had required facial reconstructive surgery.[94] Rhodes was off television for several weeks, missing both the Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber pay-per-view events. Upon his return, he wore a clear protective mask over his face, and colluded with his father to attack Mysterio and remove Mysterio's mask on the February 25 SmackDown.[95] Rhodes then regularly used his protective mask as a weapon during matches by headbutting opponents and sometimes took off the mask to use it to hit his opponents.[96][97][98] Rhodes and Mysterio faced off in a match at WrestleMania XXVII on April 3, which Rhodes won.[99] The duo also faced off in a Falls Count Anywhere match at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view in May, which was won by Mysterio.[100]

A dark-haired Caucasian male stands in a wrestling ring with grey ring ropes. He is wearing short black wrestling tights with a black, hooded jacket, and his face is covered with a clear plastic mask. He is holding a microphone to his mouth with his right hand, and in his left hand he is holding brown paper bags.
Rhodes wearing his protective mask and holding paper bag masks in June 2011

On subsequent episodes of SmackDown following Wrestlemania XXVII, Rhodes, with the help of assistants, would hand out paper bags to the audience during his promos. Rhodes demanded the audience to put on the paper bags on their heads to cover their ugliness and imperfections, because they offended him.[101] Rhodes also put paper bags over several of his opponents' heads after matches with them.[102][103] Rhodes reformed his alliance with Ted DiBiase on the May 20 SmackDown, and the duo went on to feud with Sin Cara and Daniel Bryan.[104][105][106] At the second annual Money in the Bank pay-per-view, Rhodes participated in the Money in the Bank ladder match, but was unsuccessful as Bryan won the match.[107]

At the August 9 tapings of the August 12 SmackDown, Rhodes defeated Ezekiel Jackson to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship, his first singles title with the company.[108][109] He made his first title defense the following week on SmackDown, by defeating Jackson in a rematch.[110] That same night, Rhodes and DiBiase had a verbal confrontation with Orton. The following week, Rhodes attacked DiBiase after the latter lost a singles match to Orton, ending their alliance and resulting in an Intercontinental Championship match between the two at Night of Champions, which Rhodes won.[111][112] Simultaneously, Rhodes had begun a feud with Orton, with Orton defeating Rhodes on the September 9 SmackDown,[113] but Rhodes defeated Orton on the September 12 Raw with the help of Mark Henry's distraction of Orton.[114] On the September 23 SmackDown, Rhodes defeated Orton by disqualification when Orton took Rhodes' mask off and hit him with it.[115] Post-match, Orton attacked Rhodes with the timekeeper's bell, legitimately cutting Rhodes and causing bleeding.[116] The footage was highly edited for some broadcasts.[117] The following week on SmackDown, Rhodes claimed he needed nine staples to close the wound.[118] At the same time as his feud with Orton, Rhodes was successfully defending his Intercontinental Championship, including in a 10-man battle royal and against Sheamus in a singles match.[119][120]

Rhodes as the Intercontinental Champion in January 2012.

At the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view on October 2, Rhodes debuted a new design for the Intercontinental Championship, which included a white strap and plates identical to the title's classic 1980s design, before successfully defending it against John Morrison.[121] Throughout October, Rhodes continued feuding with Orton, costing him the World Heavyweight Championship and attacking him.[122][123] At Vengeance, Rhodes was defeated by Orton in a non-title match.[124] On the November 4 SmackDown, Orton defeated Rhodes in a Street Fight to end the feud; in the process, Orton broke Rhodes' mask.[125] On the November 14 Raw, Rhodes reappeared without his mask, claiming that Orton had set him free, signalling the end of his masked gimmick.[126] Rhodes was a member of Team Barrett for a traditional Survivor Series match at Survivor Series, in which he and Wade Barrett were the only two survivors and won the match against a team led by Orton.[127]

Rhodes then feuded with SmackDown commentator Booker T, attacking him from behind on several occasions, and successfully retaining the Intercontinental Championship against him at Tables, Ladders & Chairs and on the January 6, 2012 SmackDown.[128][129] In the 2012 Royal Rumble match, Rhodes lasted over 40 minutes, and eliminated more wrestlers than other any other competitor with six, before he was eliminated by The Big Show.[130][131] At Elimination Chamber Rhodes pinned Show in the World Heavyweight Championship Elimination Chamber match, before being eliminated by Santino Marella.[132][133] Rhodes spent the following weeks highlighting Show's embarrassing moments in previous WrestleManias, often costing Show to lose matches in the process.[134] At WrestleMania XXVIII, Rhodes lost the Intercontinental Championship to Big Show, ending his near eight-month reign of 236 days.[135]

Following the loss at WrestleMania, Rhodes went on a brief losing streak, due to Show distracting him during matches.[136] Four weeks after losing the title, Rhodes regained it at Extreme Rules in a Tables match.[137] On the May 7 episode of Raw SuperShow, Rhodes retained his title against Show in a rematch after getting himself counted out.[138] Two weeks later at Over the Limit, Rhodes lost the Intercontinental Championship to the returning Christian.[139] At No Way Out, Rhodes failed to regain the Intercontinental Championship from Christian in a rematch.[140] On the June 29 SmackDown, Rhodes and David Otunga were defeated by Christian and United States Champion Santino Marella in a Money in the Bank qualification match for the World Heavyweight Championship, due to Otunga being pinned.[141] Afterwards, Rhodes claimed that he hadn't lost and demanded another chance.[141] Four days later on Super SmackDown Live, the WWE Board of Directors granted Rhodes another shot and he defeated Christian to earn a spot in the match.[142] However, at Money in the Bank, he was unsuccessful as the match was won by Dolph Ziggler.[143] In August, Cody Rhodes restarted a feud with Sin Cara where he was obsessed with unmasking Sin Cara, whom he claimed was ugly. However, Sin Cara got the better of Rhodes twice in singles and tag team matches.[144][145] On September 16 at Night of Champions, Rhodes failed to capture the Intercontinental Championship from The Miz in a fatal-four-way match, also involving Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara.[146]

Team Rhodes Scholars (2012–2013)[edit]

Rhodes then aligned himself with Damien Sandow, attacking Tag Team Champions Team Hell No (Daniel Bryan and Kane) on the September 24 Raw and vowing to become the next champions.[147] The team, now known as Rhodes Scholars, were entered in a Tag Team Championship tournament and defeated The Usos to advance.[148] On the October 8 Raw, Team Rhodes Scholars defeated Santino Marella and Zack Ryder to advance to the finals in the tournament.[149] Ultimately, Team Rhodes Scholars defeated Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara on the October 22 Raw to win the tournament and become the number one contenders to the Tag Team Championship.[150] Team Rhodes Scholars got their title opportunity against Team Hell No on October 28 at Hell in a Cell, where they won by disqualification, thus Team Hell No retained the title.[151] Rhodes Scholars received another shot at the WWE Tag Team Championship on the November 14 of WWE Main Event, but were defeated by Team Hell No.[152] During the match, Rhodes suffered a concussion and a strained shoulder, resulting in him being removed from his traditional five-on-five tag team match at Survivor Series.[153]

Rhodes sporting a moustache following his return from injury

Rhodes returned from injury on the December 10 Raw, sporting a mustache, where he and Sandow defeated Primo & Epico, The Prime Time Players (Darren Young and Titus O'Neil), and The Usos in a fatal four-way tag team elimination match to earn the right to face Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara in a number one contender Tables match at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs.[154] Six days later at the pay-per-view, Team Rhodes Scholars defeated Mysterio and Sin Cara to become the number one contenders to the WWE Tag Team Championship.[155] Team Rhodes Scholars received their title shots on the next Main Event episode, but were once again defeated by Team Hell No.[156] On the January 7, 2013, Raw, Team Rhodes Scholars defeated Team Hell No in a non-title match to earn another shot at the WWE Tag Team Championship.[157] The title rematch took place on January 27 at the Royal Rumble, where Team Rhodes Scholars once again failed to capture the tag team titles. Later that night, Rhodes participated in the Rumble match and lasted for twenty seven minutes (the fourth longest of the match), eliminating four men including his half-brother Goldust, before being eliminated by the eventual winner John Cena.[158] On the next SmackDown, Rhodes and Sandow mutually decided to dissolve Team Rhodes Scholars and remain "best friends".[159] However, they reunited during the pre-show of Elimination Chamber on February 17, but were defeated by the team of Brodus Clay and Tensai.[160] Rhodes and Sandow then aligned themselves with The Bella Twins as they began feuding with Tons of Funk (Brodus Clay and Tensai) and The Funkadactyls (Cameron and Naomi).[161][162][163] The two teams were originally booked to face each other in an eight-person mixed tag team match on April 7 at WrestleMania 29,[164] but their match was cut due to time constraints.[165] The match instead took place the following night on Raw, where Tons of Funk and The Funkadactyls emerged victorious.[166] On May 19, during the Extreme Rules pre-show, Rhodes was defeated by The Miz in a singles match.[167]

On July 14 at Money in the Bank pay-per-view, Rhodes competed in the World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank ladder match, but was unsuccessful as the match was won by his tag team partner Damien Sandow after Sandow turned on Rhodes and threw him off of the ladder just as Rhodes was about to win the match.[168] The following night on the July 15 episode of Raw, Rhodes attacked Sandow and effectively dissolving Team Rhodes Scholars, turning face in the process for the first time since 2008.[169] On the July 26 SmackDown, Rhodes stole the briefcase from Sandow and threw it into the Gulf of Mexico; Sandow was unable to save it as he could not swim.[170] On the August 5 Raw, Rhodes gave Sandow the briefcase that he retrieved from the Gulf of Mexico but kept the contract itself.[171] Rhodes continued his feud with Sandow on that same week's SmackDown, by preventing Sandow from cashing in his new Money in the Bank contract on a vulnerable Alberto Del Rio.[citation needed] On August 18 at SummerSlam, now no longer sporting a mustache, Rhodes defeated Sandow in a singles match,[172] and did so again the following night on Raw.[173] The following week on Raw, Rhodes teamed with The Miz to defeat Sandow and Fandango to end the feud.[174]

Teaming and feuding with Goldust (2013–2015)[edit]

On the September 2 Raw, as punishment for speaking out against Chief Operating Officer Triple H's authoritarian rule, Rhodes was forced to put his job on the line when he faced WWE Champion Randy Orton in a non-title match; (it was also mentioned that Rhodes was soon to be married) Rhodes lost and was duly "fired".[175] This storyline was put in place to give Runnels time off for his marriage and honeymoon to Brandi Reed, more well known as Eden. It was also put in place to put in the impending return of his half-brother Dustin Runnels, who is more well known as Goldust. Over the next few weeks, his brother Goldust also lost to Orton with Cody's reinstatement on the line, while his father Dusty Rhodes was knocked out by Big Show while pleading for his sons to get their jobs back.[176][177] In return, the vengeful Rhodes brothers gatecrashed Raw by attacking the Shield.[178]

In 2013, Goldust returned to WWE, teaming with his half-brother Cody

On October 6 at Battleground, Rhodes and Goldust won their jobs back when they defeated the WWE Tag Team Champions, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins in a non-title match.[179] The Rhodes brothers then defeated Reigns and Rollins with the help of Big Show in a no disqualification match on the October 14 Raw, to capture the tag title.[180] On October 27 at Hell in a Cell, the Rhodes brothers' first successful title defense came with winning a triple threat match against the Usos and Rollins and Reigns.[181] On the December 13 episode of SmackDown, it was announced that Cody Rhodes and Goldust would defend the WWE Tag Team Championship against The Real Americans (Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro), RybAxel (Ryback and Curtis Axel), and Big Show and Rey Mysterio in a Fatal Four Way tag team match at the TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs (2013). At the Royal Rumble, Rhodes and Goldust dropped the tag title to The New Age Outlaws. He and Goldust also entered the Rumble match itself. Goldust accidentally eliminated Rhodes right before Roman Reigns eliminated him. Goldust and Rhodes faced the Outlaws in a rematch on Raw after the Royal Rumble, which ended in a no contest after Brock Lesnar attacked them both. The titles rematch was then rescheduled for the February 3 Raw in a steel cage. Rhodes was pinned following a moonsault off the top of the cage onto Road Dogg, who was not the legal man at the time, allowing Billy Gunn to use the Fame-Ass-er and win the match for The New Age Outlaws.[182]

They lost momentum and went through a losing streak. After losing to Curtis Axel and Ryback, Cody, told Goldust to find a better tag team partner and left his brother. Following Payback, Rhodes tried to find a new partner for his brother, getting Sin Cara, R-Truth, and Kofi Kingston to replace him in the team, both times losing to Axel and Ryback.

Stardust in January 2015

On the June 16 episode of Raw, Rhodes debuted a new character called Stardust (a ring name also previously used by his father during his time in AWA), with face paint, a bodysuit, and mannerisms similar to those of Goldust. He teamed with his brother to defeat RybAxel that night, and again at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, and again on Raw.[183] On the August 18 episode of Raw, Stardust and Goldust defeated the WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos in a non-title match.[184] This led to a rematch on the August 25 episode of Raw, where Stardust and Goldust defeated The Usos via count-out, however, didn't win the titles. After the match, both Stardust and Goldust turned heel and attacked the Usos. The next week, Gold and Stardust explained their actions that the fans were holding them back and that attacking the Usos put them one step closer to reaching the Cosmic Key in the Galactic Universe. At Night of Champions, Stardust and Goldust defeated the Usos to become WWE Tag Team Champions for their second reign as a team.[185] At Hell in a Cell, they successfully retained against The Usos. They lost the title to Damien Mizdow & The Miz in a Fatal Four Way tag team match, also involving The Usos and Los Matadores the next month at Survivor Series, and lost a rematch the next night on Raw.

In early February 2015, Goldust and Stardust were defeated by The Ascension and once again began tensions with Stardust showing his frustrations at Goldust. After the match, Goldust called Stardust "Cody" and Stardust responded by telling Goldust to never refer to him by that name again. On the February 16 episode of Raw, Stardust executed Cross Rhodes on Goldust after a tag match, dissolving the team. He then explained to his father that Cody Rhodes was dead and Dusty may as well be, too.[186] This led to a match between Goldust and Stardust at Fastlane, which Goldust won via rollup. Afterwards, Stardust attacked Goldust backstage, while exclaiming to his father that he had killed Cody Rhodes. The feud between Stardust and Goldust ended when Stardust attacked Goldust after Goldust won a match against Adam Rose while pretending to be one of Rose's Rosebuds in a costume suit. The feud officially concluded as Stardust then became involved in the Intercontinental Championship ladder match at WrestleMania 31, competing against the current champion, Bad News Barrett, R-Truth, Dean Ambrose, Luke Harper, Dolph Ziggler, and the winner of the match, Daniel Bryan.

Final storylines (2015–2016)[edit]

On the April 6 episode of Raw, Stardust answered John Cena's United States Championship open challenge, but failed to win the title.[187] Stardust was defeated by R-Truth in the 2015 King of the Ring and at the Payback pre-show.[188]

Rhodes as Stardust in March 2015

The Stardust character eventually evolved to resemble a comic book supervillain, which led to him entering a storyline rivalry with actor Stephen Amell.[189] After confronting Amell on the May 25 Raw,[190] Stardust renamed his finishing maneuver The Queen's Crossbow, after Oliver Queen, Amell's character from Arrow.[189] After taking a brief hiatus following the death of his father, Stardust returned on the July 13 episode of Raw, defeating Neville,[191] starting a new rivalry between the two.[189] Stardust then went on a winning streak, defeating the likes of R-Truth, Zack Ryder and Fandango. He attacked Neville following his match with King Barrett, and also attacked guest star Stephen Amell, leading to Amell attacking Stardust. At SummerSlam, Stardust and Barrett were defeated in a tag team match by Amell and Neville.[192]

On the September 3 episode of SmackDown, The Ascension aligned themselves with Stardust by attacking Neville before their match, forming the faction "The Cosmic Wasteland". At Night of Champions, they defeated Neville and The Lucha Dragons in a six-man tag team match in the pre-show. After this, they were defeated in every match they participated in.[193] During the 2015 Slammy Awards, Stardust stole Stephen Amell's trophy for celebrity moment of the year. He then suffered back-to-back losses during his feud with Titus O'Neil, who attempted to convince Stardust to go back to being Cody Rhodes.

On the February 15 episode of Raw, Stardust participated in a five-way match for the Intercontinental Championship, but did not win the match.[194] At WrestleMania 32, Stardust competed in a seven-man ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship, which was won by Zack Ryder.[195][196] Post-WrestleMania, Stardust lost to Apollo Crews four times on television,[193] which was followed by a loss to Zack Ryder on the May 20 episode of Superstars.[197]

On May 21, Runnels revealed on Twitter that he had requested his release from WWE,[198] which was officially granted the following day.[199] Runnels cited frustrations with WWE's creative department and his position within the company as the reasons for requesting his release, noting that he had "pleaded" with writers to end the Stardust gimmick for over 6 months and pitched numerous storyline ideas which had been ignored.[200][201][202][203]

Reflecting on Runnels' WWE career, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer wrote that following his run with Legacy, Runnels was "used as more of a lower and mid-card wrestler in a number of changing roles", adding that "his career had gone nowhere and he hadn't been used well."[204] James Caldwell of Pro Wrestling Torch wrote that Runnels "had been floundering as the Stardust character over the past year or so, mostly landing on Superstars or Main Event".[202][205] Jason Powell of Pro Wrestling Dot Net commented that Runnels choosing to leave was "surprising in the sense that Cody and his family have worked for WWE for so long".[206] Meanwhile, Dave Scherer of Pro Wrestling Insider wrote, "I can't say I blame him a bit. Not even a little bit. WWE never gave him a real chance, and that's just sad to me."[207]

Independent circuit (2016–present)[edit]

Following his release from WWE, Runnels continued working under the ring name Cody Rhodes on the independent circuit, however, he did not have the right to use the name on television.[208] On June 3, it was announced Rhodes' first post-WWE match would be for Evolve in Joppa, Maryland on August 19, where he would face Zack Sabre Jr. at EVOLVE 66.[209][210] A follow-up announcement was made that Rhodes signed to participate in more unspecified dates for the company.[211] On August 19, Rhodes defeated Sabre by submission. After the match, Rhodes called out another WWE alumni Drew Galloway. The following day, he would lose to Chris Hero.

During August, Rhodes would wrestle for the Northeast Wrestling promotion, with the matches take place from August 25 to 28. On August 25, he would beat Brian Anthony in a match with Ricky Steamboat as the guest referee, in Pomona, New York. On August 25, Rhodes beat Mike Bennett in Pittsfield, Massachusetts (the match had been announced on June 3, and each other's wives were in their corner).[212] On August 27, he beat Kurt Angle in Wappingers Falls, New York.[213] On August 28, Rhodes appeared at a Northeast Wrestling show in Bethany, Connecticut, where he beat Sami Callihan.[214]

On June 6, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) announced that Rhodes would be wrestling in their annual Battle of Los Angeles tournament.[215] On September 3, Rhodes, billed as "Cody R",[4] defeated Sami Callihan in his first round match in the tournament.[216] The following day, Rhodes was eliminated from the tournament in the quarterfinals by eventual BOLA winner Marty Scurll.[217] On September 18 Cody debuted at Xtreme Wrestling Alliance at the promotions show CrossRhodes. He faced NXT star Tommaso Ciampa in his final independent show before joining WWE's main roster. He defeated Ciampa and helped join in the post match festivities.

In September 2016, Rhodes appeared for Big Time Wrestling in Morganton, North Carolina, Raleigh, North Carolina, and Spartanburg, South Carolina. He teamed up with The Rock & Roll Express on the Spartanburg event in a six-man tag team match.

On November 26 at WrestleCade’s "Showcase of Champions", Rhodes won his first championship since leaving WWE, defeating Sonjay Dutt for the GFW NEX*GEN Championship.[218] He quickly followed that by winning WhatCulture Pro Wrestling's Internet Championship on November 30, 2016 when he defeated El Ligero on the iPPV event "Delete: WCPW", with Rhodes' GFW NEX*GEN Championship also on the line.[219]

Ring of Honor (2016–present)[edit]

On July 19, 2016, Rhodes announced that he would appear at Ring of Honor's Final Battle pay-per-view on December 2. ROH made the official announcement the following day.[220] At the event, Rhodes, who was simply billed as Cody and debuted as babyface, defeated Jay Lethal following a low blow, then proceed to attack Lethal, senior referee Todd Sinclair, taunted ROH fans, and shoved ROH commentator Steve Corino, thus turning him heel in the process.[221]

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2016–present)[edit]

Rhodes is expected to work events for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) while simultaneously working in Ring of Honor. Both deals are non-exclusive.[208] On September 22, TNA confirmed Rhodes, billed as Cody, would be debuting for the promotion on October 2 at Bound for Glory.[3] At Bound for Glory, Cody alongside his wife Brandi Rhodes, made his TNA debut as a face, attacking Mike Bennett and his wife Maria to begin a feud between the two couples. On the October 6 episode of Impact Wrestling, Cody cut a promo where he put over TNA and said he has a shot at the World Heavyweight Title, Bennett and Maria interrupted and the segment ended with a brawl. On the 13 October episode of Impact Wrestling, Cody made his in-ring debut by defeating Mike Bennett. On the 20 October episode of Impact Wrestling, Cody challenged Eddie Edwards for his TNA World Heavyweight Championship, but lost the match. After the match, Brandi was attacked by Maria. On the October 27 episode of Impact Wrestling, Cody and Brandi Rhodes defeated Mike Bennett and Maria. However, after the match, Cody was attacked in backstage by Lashley.

Other media[edit]

In July 2009, Rhodes became one of the faces of the Gillette "Be a Superstar" advertising campaign, along with Chris Jericho and John Cena.[222][223] "Be a Superstar" was a four-month-long interactive campaign, which featured the wrestlers in numerous videos promoting Gillette Fusion products.[222] In August 2009, Rhodes appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien.[224] Rhodes guest-starred on Arrow in the fifth-season episode "A Matter of Trust" playing Derek Sampson, a drug dealer who gains superhuman strength and the inability to feel pain; Sampson's drug of choice was named "Stardust" in homage to Rhodes' WWE persona.[225]

Rhodes has appeared in nine video games. He made his video game debut in WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009 and appears in WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2010, WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2011, WWE '12, WWE '13, WWE 2K14 and WWE 2K15 as Cody Rhodes, and in WWE 2K16 and WWE 2K17 under his Stardust gimmick.[226]

Personal life[edit]

Rhodes with his wife Brandi Reed in April 2014

Runnels is of partial Cuban descent through his maternal grandfather.[227] His father was WWE Hall of Famer, "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, and his half-brother is WWE superstar Dustin Runnels, who is better known by his ring name Goldust. On March 31, 2007, Cody and Dustin inducted their father into the WWE Hall of Fame.[228] He also has two sisters, Teil Gergel and Kristin Ditto, who is a former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader.[229] He is the nephew of former professional wrestlers Jerry Sags and Fred Ottman, and the godson of Magnum T.A.

In September 2013, Runnels married Brandi Reed, who worked for WWE as a ring announcer under the name Eden Stiles.[230]

Runnels is a fan of The Legend of Zelda video game series and incorporates its style in his wrestling gear; he has stated he replays A Link to the Past yearly.[11][231] Runnels is also a comic book fan and has worn wrestling gear inspired by Archangel and Mister Sinister, characters from X-Men.[232] He cites Omega Red and Cyclops as his favorite fictional characters, along with the Inhumans. He personally owns a game cabinet of the 1992 X-Men arcade game.[232]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2016 Scooby-Doo! and WWE: Curse of the Speed Demon Stardust

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2009 The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien Himself Episode: "Mike Tyson and Keith Berry"
2010 Warehouse 13 Kurt Smoller Season 2, Episode 8: "Merge with Caution"[233]
2011 Food Network Challenge Himself Season 12, Episode 11: "WWE Wrestling Cakes"
2014 Surprise Surprise Himself Episode: Mothers Day Edition
2016 Arrow[234] Derek Sampson[235] Episode: A Matter of Trust; credited as Cody Runnels

Web series[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2013–2015 The JBL and Cole/Renee Show Himself, Stardust series regular
2015–2016 Swerved Himself, Stardust 2 episodes

In wrestling[edit]

Two Caucasian males in a wrestling ring. A black-haired male wearing white wrestling tights and a black and white jacket is standing, with an inverted headlock on the other who is bent over backwards.
Rhodes setting up the Cross Rhodes on Tyson Kidd
Two men in mid-air inside a wrestling ring.
Rhodes performing the Cross Rhodes on Justin Gabriel
Rhodes performing a muscle buster on Seth Rollins

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Rhodes is a three-time WWE Tag Team Champion

Amateur wrestling[edit]

  • Georgia State Tournament
    • Champion at 189 pounds (86 kg) weight class (2003, 2004)[1]

Professional wrestling[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]