Matthew Roberts takes a look at the latest WWE Home Video release, which takes a look back at the WWE part of Cody Rhodes’ career.
If nothing else, WWE American Nightmare – The Best of Cody Rhodes sure shows how fortunes can change in professional wrestling. However much of a fan of his you may have been in 2016 it would have been difficult to imagine back then sitting in front of your TV screen in 2023 with Rhodes being one of the biggest stars on the roster and about to headline WrestleMania.
The set largely covers those years between 2007 and 2015 before finishing with two of his clashes with Seth Rollins upon his return to the WWE in 2022.
Disc one opens with his WWE debut opposite Randy Orton from July 2007. It would have been remiss not to include that here. There have been more spectacular debuts, for sure, but it does enough to mark Cody out as one to watch. By Night of Champions 2008, Cody is being mentored by Bob Holly and the pair are tag team champions. Their match against Ted DiBiase and a mystery partner is as clear a set us you can imagine. It’s only here really to segue into his partnership with Ted (and Randy Orton as part of “Legacy”) and to see the heel turn.
At Hell in a Cell 2009 Rhodes and DiBiase have the honour of facing the DX duo of Triple H and Shawn Michaels in the Cell main event. The youngsters had picked up a win on PPV the month before and getting another one here might actually achieved something. Alas, that wasn’t to be but the match itself is still a very good effort. That it wasn’t designed (as such) to get them over is highlighted by the WrestleMania 26 Triple Threat match which see Orton added to the mix. It’s as pointless now as it was then to get overly animated about WWE keeping the status quo in terms of the true stars beating the youngsters.
“Dashing” Cody Rhodes has become Un-dashing by the time of WrestleMania 27 and his match with Rey Mysterio. They get a decent amount of time and use it well but it never really threatens to be anything more than solid. Disc One rounds off with three TV matches against familiar opponents. There’s two matches with Orton, including a Streetfight, and one with Rey.
Disc two kicks off with Cody teaming with his brother Dustin “Goldust” Rhodes to take on the Shield duo of Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins (Dusty Rhodes and Dean Ambrose are lurking at ringside) in a match where the Rhodes brothers have to win in order to get their WWE jobs back. This is WWE storytelling at it’s best, with “The Authority” getting some rare comeuppance here with the Rhodes doing all they must to prevail. More than ever before on this set Cody really looks like a star here. Next there’s a follow up from Raw where the two teams do battle again, and this time the Rhodes duo win to lift the Tag Team titles. It’s a decent match but hardly an all-time Raw Classic.
Within 6 months Cody has switched gears again and is now Stardust as he and Goldust take on Rybaxel. The train of thought is (rightly) that portraying an homage to/knock off of the Goldust character was a big downwards step for Cody. That said, you can’t deny that he put everything into the character (much like his brother had done two decades before). The two brothers had been petitioning for a WWE feud for years and it finally came to fruition at Fastlane 2015. Sadly the Goldust/Stardust match is merely ok and plays out to mild disinterest from the fans. There’s more heat at Summerslam 2015 but that’s due to the involvement of Stephen Amell, who teams with Neville to take on Stardust and Wade Barrett. It’s a fine entry into the celebrity cannon.
From there Cody makes his name and fortune elsewhere before triumphantly returning to the WWE as Seth Rollins’ mystery opponent at WrestleMania 38. It’s a grand match, worthy of the stage. That Cody enters the feud ending Hell in a Cell match with that very visible injury is almost more of a spectacle. It’s a herculean effort and will be remembered for a long, long time.
With, obviously, none of his RoH or AEW matches being on this set this can hardly be called a definitive set of the best of Cody’s career. And nothing in his “early” years matches the two comeback matches at the end of the collection. Yet for all that it’s a fascinating look at Cody’s career in the WWE. There are more down’s than up’s in his first run-around considering the promise he undoubtedly had. In that sense it offers an interesting critique of what many had to go through within the WWE system. Not even family ties could save him from that. But whatever the role/character, Rhodes always gave it his best. And that combined with his escapades away from WWE certainly lead to the impression that he deserves all the success gets in 2023 and beyond.
7 out of 10
Photographs courtesy of Fetch and WWE. Thank you to WWE Home Video for our review copy of American Nightmare: The Best of Cody Rhodes which is out Monday 20 February on DVD. You can buy your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk by clicking here.