There was a time when it seemed like the WWE truly believed in Cody Rhodes. More importantly, they thought very highly of Rhodes’ charisma and in-ring ability. Unfortunately for Rhodes, they banked on his charisma just a little bit too much.
Say what you will about the Stardust character, but Rhodes has played it about as well as you can ask anyone to do in 2015. When the WWE completely abandoned pretending wrestling was real — to avoid gaming commission issues, mind you — they were essentially telling the world that whatever non-human-ish character they were introducing was simply a gimmick. Because of that, much of the allure of those types of characters simply no longer work. Save for a Bray Wyatt — imagine trying to introduce The Undertaker character today. Oh, a dead guy who wrestles? Neat…
To be fair to the WWE, when they first created the Stardust gimmick it was certainly not a wretched idea. It seemed as if they had a long-term plan in place — one which would have a rather large payoff for those invested in the tradition and history of wrestling.
The presumed plan being: Stardust would team with real life brother, and fellow wacky character, Goldust. After doing swell as a tag team, the duo would break up, Goldust would push for Stardust to return as Cody — culminating in a match between the two. A possible scenario being that Goldust would wrestling as Dustin Runnels, breaking his character to get his brother back or whatever.
Without that ever actually happening due to Goldust’s injury, though, the Stardust character has been wallowing around in the world of No Plans, Creativeville. The only thing he has essentially done since taking on the character, and after the brother vs brother angle was thrown in a dumpster, was lose to Neville… and everyone else.
It is worth pointing out that Rhodes has done a tremendous job playing this character, though. Like, humorously well. It is part of the reason as to why it is so infuriating to see him not used better as a talent. Surely there must be a better fit for him within the company.
My personal opinion on the matter, despite there being no momentum to currently do so, is find a way to reignite the brother vs brother feud. Since their father was such an important part of NXT, it wouldn’t be a horrible idea for most of this to play out down in Full Sail, either.
The entire point of the angle would be to get Rhodes out of the Stardust gimmick. That’s it. Break kayfabe a little (or a lot) if you must, but have his brother face Cody as Dustin, while Stardust snaps and wrestles as half Stardust and half Cody, and make it a loser drops their gimmick thing. Heck, Goldust is still great in the ring, beloved by crowds, and is actually one of the better overall performers in the company today — if booked right it could be the sneaky good angle of the year.
If — obviously, that’s a big if — WWE ever went back to letting Cody Rhodes be Cody Rhodes, the issues moving forward would be about what to do with him next. That’s not exactly an answer we can tackle until we see how things unfold. Still, it is probably safe to say that he is one of the better overall performers in the ring, and young enough to make a push back to the top of the company. Worst case scenario calls for him to maybe hold the fort down at NXT.
Regardless, it is 2015 now. Wacky gimmicks are mostly history. Or, at least, they should be. Very few guys can take an other-worldly gimmick, one not based on any reality, and make it work today. Even the previously mentioned Bray Wyatt isn’t supernatural. Simply a weird, cult leader dude. His stuff against the Undertaker and Kane withstanding, his shtick has mostly been closer to that of being a wrestling version of James Jones than it has been some attempt at getting him over as an undead monster.
Bring back Cody Rhodes, WWE. You have to. If for no other reason than already wasting too much of his career in bad-gimmick-hell as is. Unless you plan on making Stardust a darker character or Rhodes acknowledging that the character is an extension of himself, you’re insulting the crowds and him as a performer. There’s suspension of disbelief needed to be had if you’re a wrestling fan, but not when it as at the expense of a talented performer.