July 13, 2012
Cody Rhodes aims to use Money In The Bank to climb to the top
By GREG OLIVER - Producer, SLAM! Wrestling
Cody Rhodes admitted he made a mistake the other day -- he watched a previous Money in the Bank ladder match. It made him and his friend watching with him wince. In short, Rhodes said there is simply no way to prepare for the brutality of a ladder match, especially one with eight competitors all fighting for the briefcase to earn a shot at the World heavyweight title.
"I think when you prepare for these things, the best thing to do is to not watch ladder matches, because you're then privy to, 'Oh, gosh, that's what I'm going to do?'" Rhodes told SLAM! Wrestling. "JBL had a great quote once and I would have stole it, since he's a jerk and I should have just stolen it, but I'll give him credit for it -- 'You've got to drive your body like it's stolen, like it's a stolen car, like it's somebody else's, in these type of matches, and just have no regrets.'"
The Smackdown Money In The Bank ladder match on Sunday from Phoenix has Dolph Ziggler, Intercontinental champion Christian, Damien Sandow, Tyson Kidd, United States champion Santino Marella, Tensai, Cody Rhodes, and Sin Cara. Compared to the other MITB match for the WWE Championship contract, with former champions The Big Show, Kane, Chris Jericho and John Cena, Rhodes anticipated that his bout has a real chance to be memorable.
"It's not something that's personally been discussed. I've heard it from the likes of Dolph Ziggler, and even Tyson Kidd, speaking of agile. ... I have no doubt in my mind that it will steal the show. The WWE championship Money in the Bank match, you might as well call it the Millionaires Club. These guys have all been to the top of the mountain, and as much as the WWE championship is the most prestigious title in WWE, there's a little less on the line when you've been there before. The match that I'm in, the stakes are incredibly high."
Rhodes has been in two previous Money in the Bank matches.
"It's no hyperbole if I tell you it's the biggest night of a superstar's career if they win, if they end up holding the briefcase. I'm hoping a third time's the charm. It's been able to springboard people who've been on the end of losing streaks, it's been able to springboard people who have never cracked the glass ceiling, but have always been just underneath it. For me, it's been an extremely important week."
Many have said that the 27-year-old Rhodes is long overdue for a run after a World title, regardless of the brand.
"For me, if somebody asked me six months ago, 'Are you ready to be World heavyweight champion?' I have a massive ego and all that, but the truth of the matter is I probably would have said no. I don't know why, it was just a feeling," said Rhodes. "But if you asked me today, the answer is different. I've become a young veteran of the locker room, if that makes any sense -- and I don't know how I got in that position. I've just been on television there since I was 21, so like I was talking about, those who have been looking up to the glass ceiling, winning Money in the Bank certainly cracks it. It's the brass ring that our boss talks about. Literally, it's just in the form of a big, green briefcase."
In part, Rhodes can be viewed as a "young veteran" because he grew up in the business. His father, "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes is one of the most iconic wrestlers of all time, and his half-brother, Dustin Runnells, was a star in his own right, as Dustin Rhodes and as Goldust.
Cody Rhodes started refereeing for his father when he was 16 years old, but his wrestling education started well before that.
"Since I was four years old, that's all we've ever talked about in the car, at dinner, when it's just him and I," said Rhodes. But the flipside was that his father was still old-school, and didn't smarten his son up to the innerworkings of the professional wrestling business until Cody was a young teen.
"I was 14, way too old, way too old to not be brought into, 'Okay, some elements of what we do, son, is entertainment.' I was still very much booing the bad guys and hating their guts, and wanting to spit on them when I saw them walk by in the locker room," he recalled. "I think that kind of tension at 13, 14 years old is why my Dad kinda came around. But way too old for me not to know."
"I was provided with this unbelievable college-like education, but no fundamentals, no basics. It took all that time on Raw, the time with Bob Holly, the time with Ted DiBiase under Randy Orton's supervision, it took all that time to develop a truly great fundamental set. But prior to that, I was just having all this knowledge but not able to do it," said Rhodes, who was "undersized" and "underwhelming" when he first arrived under WWE's wing.
Talking from Florida, where he was scheduled to work on Thursday night against Kane -- for the first time in singles competition -- at Full Sail University, in Winter Park, Rhodes reflected a little about his early days in WWE developmental.
"I loved my time in developmental. Randy Orton actually told me, he said, 'This is the most fun you're going to have. You're going to look back at this and these memories are going to blow you away, because it gets to be pretty hard work pretty soon.' I see that when I come to a Full Sail taping," Rhodes said, talking about a benefit that few others get. "Ultimately, I get to wrestle in front of my Dad, and he's not my boss. He has no control over my career. He doesn't have a single hand in the kitchen. So it's great for him to see me as me."
Dusty Rhodes helps those in developmental with interview skills and is involved in the creative aspect as well. Dusty loves teaching, said his son. "In terms of somebody, 'Hey, here's a microphone, cut a promo on John Cena,' in terms in learning the art of the promo, in terms of talking people into the building, that was something he was really good at, if not, arguably, the best at it. That's what he's trying to pass along. He's got this director's bone in him now where he thinks he's Francis Ford Coppola, and he's creating these characters in NXT that are really just out of this world, and they really are entertaining."
Naturally, Cody Rhodes sees it as a chance to see who is chomping at the bit to get onto the main roster.
"It is great to see guys that are hungry. It's great to see my competition a little bit. It's great to see a guy like Seth Rollins [formerly Tyler Black] and what he's doing," said Rhodes.
Unless you are working in developmental, though, Rhodes said the WWE stars have little to do with the next potential stars, and don't even talk about new signings much.
"There's a big disconnect, because once you are on the road full-time and on the roster, you're moving. The only type of buzz, I guess, is that they come from a similar background as someone like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan have come from, and CM Punk and Daniel Bryan have been extremely successful. They've earned everything that they have now. So if you hear, 'Oh, I used to wrestle with such-and-such,' that's the only thing that creates a little bit of a buzz," said Rhodes, continuing. "I've seen so many guys that my Dad has told me, my Old Man has told me, 'Oh such-and-such is so good. He's great.' And then they come up, and before the cameras roll, they do the opening contest and they're horrible. So, working in front of the WWE audience, in front of our camera, is so much different than working in some of the smaller venues -- and this is not a knock on some of the places where these superstars come from, but it's very different, and it's not for everybody."
"It's not for everybody" could also describe ladder matches.
However, despite the painful memories of the Money in the Bank bout from last year, Rhodes did have a laugh. "That's another thing I noticed about Money in the Bank last year, I forgot so much, the mask and the bags. It was great."
EDITOR'S NOTE: Next week, Cody Rhodes shares his thoughts on everything from Twitter to his kneepads to what comic books he is current reading.
Greg Oliver is the Producer of SLAM! Wrestling and has now finished his "Rhodes trifecta," having interviewed Dusty Rhodes, Dustin Rhodes and Cody Rhodes. "I'm the least entertaining. Sorry," quipped Cody when told of Greg's moment. Greg can be emailed at email@example.com.