RAY IS WAR
I’ve been a fan of Cody Rhodes for a long time. I enjoyed him with Legacy; I enjoyed him as “Dashing” Cody Rhodes. When he had his face smashed by Mysterio and took a much darker tone with his character. To be quite frank, it was that change that gave/gives me the most hope for Cody. Rhodes successfully played himself off as mutilated and deranged because of his injuries. It changed the dynamic of what I came to expect from him. Prior to that Rhodes was an entertaining, but in some ways mundane grappler. I liked what I saw out of him, but it felt like there was a missing ingredient. Rhodes found it with that transition.
He went on to become an interesting star as part of Team Rhodes Scholars, and then had a great face turn that looked like it was about to rocket him to the moon. As a thorn in the side of The Authority he made huge strides towards becoming a fan favorite. When he and his brother captured the tag titles from The Shield and “won their jobs” the roof nearly blew off of the building. From the breakup of Team Rhodes Scholars through his issue with The Authority he had really seemed to be on a massive face trajectory.
Cody seemed like he was well on his way.
Somewhere along the way what was expected to be a short-lived tag reign likely ending with Goldust turning on him to propel Cody into the babyface stratosphere went awry. Cody seemed to be the one on the verge of turning on his brother, something that belied the face behaviors he’d shown recently, and seemed to waste the excitement fans were beginning to feel for him as a good guy. It seemed like The Rhodes Brothers were about to break up and Cody would play the role of the heel. Then suddenly WWE took us for another twist, giving life back to a tag team that had been on the road to dissolution.
In the form of Stardust Cody took on a different tone, he seemed crazy, and suddenly Goldust was the sane one. Many people saw this as a step down for him, and playing off of his brother’s legacy. I saw something different. When I saw it, that’s when I knew…THIS was the character that was going to propel him to the top of the card. While his earlier face pop went wasted by WWE as they tried to balance Bryan, Cena, and others at the top of the card; a new opportunity was emerging. Cody has shown a ton of range with this character. He’s taken the deranged element of the damaged “Dashing” Cody and flipped it in a way that fans many fans came to love the new twist on this character. But it was always building to the moment to come.
Cody Rhodes is going to be the heel in this breakup, and given the current structure of WWE he’s needed as a heel. WWE is currently short on top level heel stars. He’s in the midst of the sinister turn on his own flesh and blood, and that’s when he’s going to truly shine. His insanity is going to shine, and he’s going to break the mold for what WWE has seen from its heels lately. We’ve seen Wyatt try to pry his way into the minds of his opponents. He’s always felt like he was on the controlled side of the razor’s edge between brilliance and madness. Cody on the other hand seems to be falling further and further into the depths of madness.
He is a villain, demented, and looking to create chaos.
“CODY IS DEAD!” ~ STARDUST
Dean Ambrose is one of my favorite stars in the modern day WWE. He is a character that is completely off of his rocker, yet beloved.
It wasn’t always that way.
Ambrose has scratched and clawed and made people believe in him in a way many thought he was incapable of doing. As a member of The Shield he was initially loathed for his underhanded tactics. He and his mates routinely beat down the outnumbered and outclassed opposition. Ambrose seemed at home dominating his foes alongside one of the best groups in recent memory. The vigilantes, the hired guns that were The Shield would eventually become the henchmen for The Authority. They helped Hunter and Stephanie stay in power; run roughshod over the roster. Eventually the Hounds of Justice decided to live up to their namesake. They decided to go against those they had defended.
Suddenly the term justice in their nickname actually meant something.
They stood up for what was right.
Dean had already captured The United States Championship. He held the title for 351 days. He and the other Hounds of Justice held onto that title, until The Authority took it away. When that happened Dean and his brethren did what they do best.
At WrestleMania they destroyed the New Age Outlaws and Kane, they showed The Authority that they were better than anyone realized, completely obliterating and demoralizing three sure fire WWE Hall of Famers. His brothers fought Evolution in some of the best matches of the last few years in WWE. Each man shined in different ways, but the one that always stood out for me was Dean Ambrose. He was the man that was never expected to be the guy in the white hat. He was never meant to be the good guy. Their battles were remarkable, and Dean kept growing and growing in the face role that once felt so unnatural for him. He was the member of The Shield that most expected would be the catalyst for their eventual destruction. We all know how that worked out.
In an unexpected plot twist Seth Rollins did the deed. Ambrose watched in horror as his “brother” struck his other “brother” with a chair. It was like everything he thought he knew changed in an instant. The only family he’d ever known was suddenly ripped from him. Ambrose had no idea how to react. He became a man possessed. He vowed to make Seth Rollins’ life a living hell and spent months living up to that promise.
He swore retribution.
He did his best to exact revenge on the man who destroyed his family. We felt his pain. We lived and died with his actions and inner agony. We cheered him as he fought the good fight against seemingly insurmountable odds. He impressed week after week. Redefining himself, his character, and becoming one of the most beloved characters in WWE. Dean took all of the things that we never expected him to do and did them. In the end though his is a character that is still a victim of tragedy he was neither prepared for nor equipped to deal with.
He is the damaged hero.
“I never thought I was a bad person. I just thought I was the one good person living in a world of bad people.” ~ Dean Ambrose
The characters of both Cody and Dean had the option of giving into the madness and bad hands they’d been dealt; one seemingly is about to choose to go down a dark and lonely path, the other a path of shades of grey but with good and light at heart. Both men had their lives turned upside down by The Authority. They are tied together by that bond. They are victims. Oddly they’ve taken paths that seem to be the inverse of one another. The Shield played the role of heel as The Rhodes Brothers tried to overcome The Authority.
Over time they have walked a path that led each to where they are now. Cody, Stardust, is on the precipice of a new adventure. First a collision course with his brother, and then what next?
Ambrose is headed on towards Bad News Barrett and the Intercontinental Championship. The IC Title seems the right destination for Dean. A feud with Barrett does not. Wade is a brilliant grappler and entertainer in his own right, but he is not a good foil for a character like Ambrose.
Give Dean the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania. Let Cody conquer his brother. Then the time comes for them to cross paths. Let’s not forget that Cody is the one who brought the classic Intercontinental Championship design back. That belt is HIS. Let him come for his prize…and let the fireworks begin.
If the aforementioned Wyatt represents an amalgamation of Batman villains The Riddler, and The Scarecrow, constantly puzzling while preying on the inner fears of his opposition; I truly believe that Stardust is able to take on the role of the most famous of all villains in the Batman universe, The Joker. I’ve watched many of his mannerisms, many of his actions, and in my mind I always harken back to the performance of Heath Ledger as The Joker. It was a spectacular performance. It was far more nuanced and true to the deep insanity, violence and desire for anarchy of The Joker than Jack Nicholson’s take on the character. Cody is a big comic book fan, and I wonder if his take on his own character is intentionally modeled after The Joker. In Stardust Cody has created a man bordering on villain that seems to have teetered over the edge and is quickly falling into the depths of madness. His rants about stars, constellations etc. were cute and quirky at first. Lately however the character has taken on a more sinister and brooding tone.
The Clown Prince of Crime is the most diabolical and deadly of all of Batman’s foes. He is the yin to The Dark Knight’s yang. The Joker is what Batman might have been had he given in more completely to his rage.
They are polar opposites, yet couldn’t be any more similar. They complement one another.
Each is beautifully and fatally flawed, shattered, and irreparably damaged.
There have been no more perfect foes in all of comic history than The Joker and Batman.
Cody Rhodes is a broken man. The results are that is about to lay waste to his family. Lunacy and chaos are seemingly his sole motivations. He is The Joker. He is Stardust.
Dean Ambrose is a broken man. He watched his family be destroyed. Revenge is his defining characteristic, but he is so much more layered and intriguing than that lone factor. He has taken matters into his own hands, unable to trust that things can be rectified any other way. He is The Batman. He is the Lunatic Fringe.
I see so much potential in both. Dean Ambrose has shown that he is capable of playing any role put in front of him, currently he plays the hero, and does so with a natural aplomb that makes the fans adore him. Cody Rhodes has shown that same versatility and chameleon-like nature in his career. No matter what he’s been fed he’s found a way to make it work. In my mind Stardust is to be his masterpiece.
No great villain can thrive without a hero.
No great hero can prosper without a villain.
If WWE plays their cards right they’ll find that they have both...one just waiting for the other.