If the end is near for Dustin Rhodes, is Cody Rhodes the one to end his career?
On Wednesday, April 22, 2020, Dustin Rhodes, eldest son of the legendary Dusty Rhodes, took on Kip Sabian in the quarter-finals of AEW’s TNT Championship tournament. The stakes were high as Dustin had vowed in a voicemail that if he couldn’t beat Kip Sabian, he would retire. Dustin got past Sabian thanks to a little assist from Brandi Rhodes, who kept Sabian’s girlfriend, Penelope Ford from costing Dustin the match. The victory not only kept Rhodes’ career alive, but set up a potential hoss fight classic with the monstrous Lance Archer. However, the bigger story is the potentially bigger storyline that could be waiting in the wings: Another showdown with younger brother, Cody.
For those who don’t know, though I’m not sure how, Dustin Rhodes and Cody being brothers isn’t just for television, they are half brothers and they are half brothers with a somewhat complicated relationship and history that needs to be unpacked to understand what might be brewing.
The Rhodes Family Saga, Condensed… A Lot
Fathers and Sons
First of all, Cody and Dustin have the same father, Hall of Famer and Legend, Dusty Rhodes, however Dusty fathered Dustin and Cody and raised them at two very different points in his life. When Dustin was growing up, Dusty was a journeyman wrestler who traveled the world to entertain fans and support his family and raised plenty of hell in the process. It was a 300+ day a year job that kept him far from home, and away from his family much of the time, which resulted in a divorce and end to his first marriage. When Cody was growing up, Dusty had transitioned to a more backstage role and was semi-retired, which meant he had the time to actually be the dad to Cody that he hadn’t really been able to be for Dustin. Add in personal issues surrounding Dustin’s marriage to Terri Runnels, his struggle to get out of his father’s shadow, and the hugely controversial character of Goldust, and you have a pretty complicated family story.
Brothers and Rivals
It’s no secret that Dustin and Cody love each other, they inducted their father into the WWE Hall of Fame together, but it doesn’t take a psychologist, or a woman who slept through her high school psychology class (that would be me, BTW), to see that Dustin could be forgiven if he resented Cody. However, it could be said that Cody had his own reasons to resent Dustin. Dustin got the chance to establish himself as a star away from their dad, while Cody was never really allowed to be a star without the Rhodes name following him and the unspoken assumption that all his title runs were more because of Dusty pulling strings for him than because of his own talent. Every time Cody went to the ring, we were reminded that he was the son of Dusty Rhodes, something Dustin was largely able to avoid in his Goldust years. Though Cody has embraced his name and family legacy in recent years, that wasn’t always the case during his WWE run.
Over the years, the Rhodes brothers have spent a lot of time as enemies, with Cody going out of his way to embarrass his brother and father, and as allies, but the relationship seemed broken beyond repair after Cody went down the rabbit hole of his Stardust gimmick before leaving WWE in 2016.
However, in 2019, the brothers seemed back on the same page after Dustin’s departure from WWE and after a legendary, blood soaked, battle at the first Double or Nothing. Cody won, but admitted that he needed his big brother back, and since then, Dustin has been the bedrock of the Nightmare Family, as well as respected coach backstage to the AEW roster.
What Does This Have to Do With Anything?
Let’s go back to where we started: the April 22 edition of Dynamite. On this week’s ‘Road to’ episode, Dustin dropped the bombshell that he would retire if he couldn’t beat Kip Sabian, much to Cody’s clear distress. It was shocking, but also a very random thing to announce while wrestling is almost at a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially since Dustin is experiencing a career resurgence. Of course, Dustin got past Sabian, but retirement was in the air and it begs the question: What is going on here? Here’s what I think.
Dustin Rhodes is as good in the ring as he’s ever been, but it’s becoming clear that he’s slowing down. It certainly looked clear against the younger, and much quicker, Sabian. So, it might be that that Dustin is aware of his limits and doesn’t want to end up like so many legends, barely able to move but still getting booked because of nostalgia of what he used to be able to do. Dustin doesn’t NEED to wrestle anymore, as long as AEW exists, he’ll have a job. There are many members of the AEW roster, particularly the women, who praise him as an outstanding coach. Which is where Cody comes in.
Tiffany Tries To Get To The Point
As of Wednesday, April 22, 2020, Cody and Dustin are in the semi-finals, facing Darby Allin and Lance Archer, respectively. IF they are both successful, and that is certainly NOT a foregone conclusion, we could be facing a new chapter in the saga of the Rhodes family: Brother against brother for the TNT title. If that happens, I can see Dustin deciding to make victory against Cody the make or break of his career. If he can’t beat Cody, he will retire.
Moreover, IF Dustin is serious about wanting to retire and focus on working behind the scenes of AEW, or needs time to recover from injury, the person who should end Dustin’s storied, controversial, and amazing career is Cody. It would open another chapter in the Rhodes Family Saga, and complete the heel turn Cody seems to be on right now.
However, if they go down that path, that doesn’t mean the TNT Championship will be involved. They could easily have Allin and Archer face off for the title and leave the Rhodes Brothers to work out their issues on their own, but since I think it’s long past time for Cody to be a champion of SOME kind in AEW, I hope the title will be in the mix in some way.
However this is decided, it seems clear that Cody and Dustin are headed for another collision, and one with even more at stake. If Cody is the one to end Dustin’s career, it would be a fitting end and certainly more interesting than a tournament match in front of no crowd.