Donald Wood of Bleacher Report and Ring Rust Radio had ROH Champion Cody Rhodes on the show recently to talk about recently winning the ROH Championship and to promote his title shot against Kazuchika Okada at the NJPW G1 Special in Long Beach this weekend. You can listen to the audio in the video at the bottom of the page, and read these submitted highlights.
Ring Rust Radio: You first came to ROH as a babyface and that fanbase really embraced you, as I think it always had even dating back to your time in WWE. With that said, why has your transition to the heel role seemingly been so smooth and seamless over the past several months?
Cody Rhodes: Well I mean in full disclosure, you all watch modern wrestling and shows about wrestling; I don’t think babyfaces and heels exist anymore. There are good guys, there are bad guys and then there are stars and that’s what you want to be. One of the last conversations I actually had with my dad about the industry was about the shape, the change and the only constant in pro wrestling is that there is no constant. I think I have fallen into more of a villainous position in Ring of Honor because of the emphasis on the brand. The code of Honor and that horse sh-t and the concept of the sports style and sports entertainment and the concept of it all. I didn’t take any of that up when I was with WWE. I am the antithesis of the brand and also the fact that I refuse to sign a contract with them, and they aren’t alone in that. I really do like Ring of Honor. What a wonderful company as a whole in terms of the shows that they put on and you think about what the Young Bucks are doing and Ring of Honor being the platform that they’re doing it on. Ring of Honor for a pro wrestling fan, which I still am, is absolutely gangbusters. I just don’t want to sign a contract with anybody. I think that along with a little bit of my real attitude might get under the skin of a good amount of the Ring of Honor fans, but that makes it fun. It’s so great because Christopher Daniels is the brand. He’s honor defined man. That’s somebody who works and is as pure it gets, you know?
Ring Rust Radio: In addition to your success with Ring of Honor, you are also making serious waves in New Japan. On July 1, you challenge Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Do you believe you will be able to succeed where your Bullet Club brother Kenny Omega failed and actually dethrone Okada?
Cody Rhodes: I don’t think Kenny failed in that second outing. If you asked me point blank did he win the title, the answer is no. To go 60 minutes and the champion’s advantage being what it is, they went the distance and Okada remains champion. I just think his luck has kind of run dry. Gosh he’s big match Okada for sure, an absolute stud and he is guaranteed his legacy in New Japan Pro Wrestling, but man that’s the thing about pro wrestling, any given night, you know? The added incentive is you have a lot of people excited about what I am doing with Christopher Daniels. People are like, ‘Whoa, finally Cody is wrestling singles for the big one.’ Then you have a lot of people who are absolutely furious about Long Beach and as much as I like pleasing the fans I have acquired, nothing would make me happier than upsetting the critics I have acquired. It’s two glorious matches, eight days of summer that I get to watch wrestling twitter just sh-t itself and shut down and essentially have a heart attack. The amount of speculation like how I’m not in the G1 and just the amount of speculation going on, when you start a sentence with that, that pretty much guarantees you are trying to convince yourself and I love it. I love the type of crowd we are walking into at Long Beach and both title matches have such a great and unique lineage behind them about them.
Ring Rust Radio: As one of the biggest names to have ever joined the Bullet Club, what do you think you've been able to do for the notoriety of the stable thus far, and in turn, how has being part of the Bullet Club helped advance you and your career?
Cody Rhodes: At the time that I joined the Bullet Club, I am the biggest name that’s ever joined it. However, with that said, there are those who have rose up from the Bullet Club like Finn Balor, AJ Styles and Anderson and Gallows, all those guys who because of WWE programming is so worldwide now, that maybe I’m no longer the biggest name. I feel I was excited at the thought that I could do something for the Bullet Club and perhaps provide them a different demographic, but the truth is the Bullet Club has done more for me. I don’t know why, that’s the power of the Young Bucks, if that makes any sense. Being the Elite is such a great show and it’s such a good opportunity to show folks a different side of yourself and perhaps the real side of yourself. Me being able to piggyback off their watershed deal with Hot Topic and being able to be in stores, I honestly don’t do it, but I should call them every morning and say thank you very much for making it so I’m making more money on my own schedule than I was with the biggest wrestling company in the world. Being part of the Bullet Club has done more for me than I have done for the Bullet Club. So hopefully Friday and hopefully the following week, I’ll be able to have something to offer more than just my legacy and heritage and me saying ‘F--k the Revival,’ hopefully have more to offer to the Bullet Club. I look forward to it.
Ring Rust Radio: Your American Nightmare moniker has become one of the most popular in all of wrestling, finding success in the U.S. and internationally. How did you come up with the idea and what has the response been like from fans?
Cody Rhodes: I can’t tell you who came up with it; it’s a secret that I will have to take to the grave. Although it really is kind of, I don’t know if it’s a term people use anymore, but an oxymoron. My pops is the American Dream and I have been a career villain, so it makes sense. It is absolutely flattering beyond belief the international reception for the idea of the American Nightmare. The shirt that broke the Tokyo Dome merchandise sales records has two AK-47s on it and the red white and blue of the American flag and it happened in Tokyo, Japan. Just walking into that hotel right after it and seeing all these fans run up to me in that shirt, I almost broke down. I almost shed a tear. When I was in WWE all I wanted was to drive Cena around before he got the bus. I drove him around for a full year and learned from him. He was cool and nice to me and taught me as much stuff as he could. We always had these conversations about merchandise and he really is just above me. College-level discussions about the algorithm behind box office and sales and I wanted that. So, for the first time in my career I’ve been able to look at myself. I was just a wrestler and all of a sudden things took off and I became a brand. I don’t know what that means, but I know it’s real because I have a team full of people who surround this: a social media team, a management team and a publicist. All this crazy stuff I never knew a wrestler would ever need. I’m just real lucky that I caught on in the international markets. I hope when they get the opportunity to see me as I am not in Japan as frequent as I would like to be, that they understand and they get their money’s worth.
Ring Rust Radio: You've made a couple of appearances on Arrow that I really enjoyed, and I'm sure there's going to be more acting opportunities for you in the future. If you were able to land a full-time role on a show like Arrow or something else of interest to you, is that something you'd pursue in favor of continuing your wrestling career?
Cody Rhodes: I got offered a full-time role in the CBS show, I won’t say which one, but it goes to the CBS streaming All-Access stream and I turned it down because of that very issue. If I’m unable to be a pro wrestler then I’m not anything. That’s what great about Arrow, they get it. They get that pro wrestling is a huge thing to me. That’s why if I had the time off I would do it, but right I’m not taking any time off. I just looked at my datebook and it goes all the way up to May of next year and so much international work. The good thing for roles in the acting world that I will pursue is that most of them are during the week. So hopefully there’s more part-time work for me and hopefully get to work with the Arrow crew. I really would love to continue working with them. They didn’t kill Derek Sampson; they can’t kill Derek Sampson so I would love to continue in that world. That Arrow team is so awesome and they took such great care of me. They gave me a chance to try things and create Derek Sampson and I would love to return as Derek Sampson.
Ring Rust Radio: What are your thoughts on Bullet Club continuing to have different variations and evolving each year compared to outright disbanding?
Cody Rhodes: That is a really good question. I think there will be a time probably, with all good things must come to an end and I think there will be a time when okay, this is no longer hot. That’s what blows my mind about the Bullet Club is when you kind of look at its history. I know someone for example, who didn’t know the NWO and DX parallels. We were watching some old wrestling and they saw somebody too sweet and they were blown away, I said ‘yea, it’s a whole thing.’ I think the fact that they have lasted so long, they created the Bullet Club and it’s this skull and crossbones type fraternity and it’s a really special unit to be part of and be proud of. I think wrestling fans will know when enough’s enough, but when they are making additions like Marty Scurll, who has a completely different demographic and a completely different style, they’re doing all the right things. Everybody plays their part and there is not a lazy guy in the Club. It’s nuts. Just looking around the locker room and looking at people and the idea that I’m going to have a better match than you and the Bucks are going to steal the show, but then you better steal it back and who’s going to sell the most? That’s a really fun group to be part of and it’s motivating.