LaBar: Cody Rhodes talks about the passing of father Dusty Rhodes
One of the most famous and significant men ever to wrestle professionally, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, passed away in June. I recently spoke with WWE Superstar Stardust, played by Dusty’s son, Cody Rhodes. Stardust and I talked, as only Stardust can, about his new tag partners, NXT and jokes played on the road.
The conversation changed tones when I brought up Dusty Rhodes. Stardust said he wasn’t the best person to talk about that, but Cody Rhodes was. After a moment of silence on the phone, I was no longer speaking to the charismatic, wacky character of Stardust. It was the sincere tone of Cody Rhodes’ voice, and he opened up about the passing of his father.
Q: Cody, can you say whatever you would like to say about the passing of your father Dusty Rhodes?
A: What a bad summer for sports entertainment. When you lose The Dream and you lose “Hot Rod” (Roddy Piper). These are not arguably, just genuinely, in anybody’s top five or top ten. The word used now is they are icons, and there’s very few true icons of the industry. I was and I feel like I still am, very close to my dad. I haven’t really let him go. It’s hard when you see a ring, and I think about all the times you saw him in it. It’s great though that you ask, because the Dusty Rhodes tag tournament taking place in NXT is something he would really be proud of because of all the platforms it gives to talent, including independent talent that came in for a shot to win the Dusty Rhodes tag tournament. I will actually be there myself, (as) me — for the first time a while on WWE programming — Cody Rhodes and my brother will be there to present the trophy, which I’m looking forward to seeing. I had some help in preparing it for whomever is victorious in said tag team tournament. It’s a great way to honor him, and I think we continue to honor him. WWE just put it all out there. A lot of families lose a loved one and they don’t get the chance to see video packages and tributes. They have to do all that themselves and put it together. It was done for me, and I’m forever in their debt for that.
Q: A lot of fans wanted, speculated and were curious that we would see Cody Rhodes return to WWE programming after the passing of Dusty Rhodes. I didn’t think we should, in the context of what they wanted, but that’s just my own personal opinion. What’s your reaction to that?
A: It would have been tacky — would have been tacky, and it wouldn’t have been genuine. Many years ago, I used to watch RAW with my dad, and we watched Nitro, and we watched the pay-per-views. Many years ago, there was a wrestler who passed away, and his name was used pretty regularly after that on programming. People were using it to try draw the adulation of fans. Everyone was saying, “Oh, well such and such who passed away would have loved this.” And (my father) told me, and this is something very few people know, “When I go don’t ever let anybody say that about me. I left my body of work on the table already and it doesn’t need to be expanded.” And I never forgot that. So there was never any question on who was coming back.
Q: NXT was here in Pittsburgh the day the news of his passing became public. Then that Sunday, I was at the pay-per-view where they did the 10-bell salute, and the entire roster came out on stage. That was, not just in wrestling but in life, one of the most emotional moments for me. I know it was a crazy time, but did you get to see the tribute live?
A: Not at first. I went back and covered a lot of ground to see all the cool things people did. It was very helpful. I made pretty much all the members of my family who hadn’t seen it, I let them see it at their own discretion when they like to. That one in particular, you have to remember, Hunter (Triple H) is my boss and someone I look up to and strive to be as good as he was, but my dad treated him like he was his own son. They had a very unique bond. The way he handled it was with a lot of dignity and immense amount of professionalism.
Q: Do you have a favorite Dusty Rhodes promo?
A: I do, but I don’t share or talk about it only because it’s kinda mine. There’s one in particular, though. I always get a kick out of it —when you think of making something out of nothing — if you look up the cold-blooded sausage maker, but that’s more for a laugh.
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Justin LaBar is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7949 or [email protected]