For nearly a decade, audiences could see Cody Rhodes on World Wrestling Entertainment television whether it be as the son of late WWE Hall of Famer 'The American Dream' Dusty Rhodes or his alter-ego Stardust.
But since his departure from the company in May 2016, wrestling fans have been able to see him almost everywhere else as he has traveled the independent circuit including stops with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), TNA, and Ring of Honor (ROH).
Rhodes, now known simply by the ring name 'Cody', visited with GuideLive about his post-WWE career, a new nickname, and hopes of once against stretching his acting muscles ahead of his appearance at ROH's Honor Reigns Supreme in Dallas on February 4...
Since you left the WWE, you've put in time with a handful of different organizations, what has the experience been like outside of the WWE bubble?
Cody: The first word that comes to mind is rewarding. It's been rewarding on many levels. A lot of these smaller independent shows that I've been able to do, they're rewarding because I get to meet fans, talk to fans, gauge fans on what they like, what they don't. And then in the bigger spotlights, like in NJPW's Wrestle Kingdom that we just did recently for 40,000 people in the Tokyo Dome, those are moments that are rewarding because I wanted to set out and prove myself right, and it's in moments like that I feel like we're on the right track.
What about ROH? How has the experience been there thus far?
Cody: I think if you could really pinpoint a "first night" in my new career, it was Ring of Honor's Final Battle in the Hammerstein Ballroom.
I've been blown away by the efficiency and professionalism of Ring of Honor, and the opportunities afforded to me to be in there with people that I'm genuinely fans of. I'm a genuine fan of The Young Bucks. I'm a genuine fan of Adam Cole. And it's a nice, friendly competition between somebody like me and Cole when we're in there together to see who's better - in between tags. It's a bit narcissistic, a bit Horsemen-like, I guess, in a way, but gosh it feels good ... I dig what Ring of Honor is doing very, very much. I plan to make them my home for some time.
On the development of his new nickname, 'The American Nightmare' ...
Cody: As far as NJPW, they really took to the concept of 'The American Nightmare' and the name itself. Those American Nightmare shirts, we thought a couple people would buy them at the Tokyo Dome, we didn't realize we would sell upwards of 10,000 in one night ... I'm all on board with The American Nightmare. It's funny to me because Dusty being 'The American Dream', the name never really percolated with me, I suppose, and then [NJPW] gave it to me and I very much like it.
For such a simple little twist in the name, how was nobody able to see that idea before?
Cody: Yeah, right? I think people know about me, I try to stay clear of doing a lot of what my dad did because we're very different. And nobody could do what he did, and I'd just be a cheap imitation if I did that. He wanted me to be my own thing. But like you said, it's so simple. How come it never hit anybody prior? So, that's why I'm glad that it's taken off. It's a great moniker and it means something to wrestling fans.
You had a match with Stephen Amell in WWE, and returned the favor by guest starring on CW's Arrow earlier this season, are there any future propositions for Cody Rhodes the actor?
Cody: I think that's one of the main reasons we set up shop in Los Angeles was to give it a real, full 100 percent try. There's some cool stuff we're going to announce in the next few months, there's definitely a couple new parts we've garnered. Wrestling, I'm not trying to jump ship and I'm always going to be wrestling whether it's in tiny little Knights of Columbus or it's in a big arena, wrestling is just part of me and I couldn't live without it. But, there's definitely some more acting on the horizon, and hopefully a little bit more with the CW and the Arrow family.
Your wife, Brandi, has also started carving her own path since both of your WWE departures - how has it been to see her growth?
Cody: I enjoy seeing her by herself, kind of branch out, because she has such charisma and she is such a hard worker and such a genuinely just glowing individual. I'm so lucky to have her. It's fun though to watch, and I try to keep my distance when it comes to TNA. I love when we do stuff together, and when we're side by side - we've had some fun with that already and there's definitely some fun in the future with her and I in some mixed tag situations - but when I get to watch her on her own, it's nice. She can hold her own. And I get my little progress reports from my friends at the TNA studios at Universal, and they tell me how good she did and how much she owned it, and that's just - it's cool and it makes me proud.
Still watch WWE or keep an eye out for anyone in particular?
Cody: I mean, unless somebody asks me specific to watch - a lot of my buddies, we're in one massive group text so there's a lot of griping and chatting about gossip, feels like I'm still in the locker room half the time and I miss that - but right now it's not really for me.
It wasn't really for me the last few years I was there. Not that I don't love WWE, I had such fun there. I met my wife there. Just the product being PG and being so watered down with such super talented guys on it, it almost makes me mad to watch it. So, I avoid.
Reaction to Kurt Angle being the first member of the year's WWE Hall of Fame class...
Cody: He's just a tremendous headliner. He's the greatest pure wrestler - no one with an amateur acumen can ever compare unless they also have an Olympic gold medal ... I just can't wait to see him. I let him know that day that I can't wait to see him and tell him congratulations. One of the things my dad told me was the only real thing when it comes to the world of wrestling, the only real thing is the Hall of Fame. Maybe that's because he was a Hall of Famer, but I'll never forget that.
On his Honor Reigns Supreme opponents Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian who he will be competing with in a tag-team match alongside ROH world champion Adam Cole in Dallas...
Cody: I watched the little interview the two of them did. They're the gatekeepers to Ring of Honor. So much respect for what they've done in Ring of Honor, and just in general. They've made such a name for themselves really all on their own. But you can't stop the train when it's moving so fast. This whole thing has taken off in such a way. When you have a person like Adam Cole who is a three-time ROH champion, the history maker, just kind of a no-brainer as far as what will happen in a match like that ... if WWE has been your only game, fear not, Ring of Honor will take care of you. It's a killer company with absolutely some of the best professional wrestlers in the world.